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Exercising during pregnancy has many benefits.
Women who exercise during pregnancy have easier deliveries, more energy and recover postpartum faster. Most women are able to continue their normal exercise routine with some modifications. Many exercises on the Pilates reformer are safe and effective for expectant mothers during the first trimester, but modifications need to be made for the second and third due to physiological changes in the body as well as the needs of the growing fetus. After obtaining clearance from your doctor, consult a certified Pilates instructor to design a reformer routine that is comfortable for you during all stages of your pregnancy.
Many pregnant women experience nausea, headaches and fatigue, so the mind-body aspect of Pilates can be a welcome respite and distraction during the first trimester. To stretch sore feet and calves, begin with footwork on the balls of the feet on the footbar spaced hip-width apart while you are lying down on the carriage face up. Slowly push back until the legs are straight without being locked out. Drop the heels under the footbar, feeling a stretch in the calves and feet. Lift up to the balls of the feet, bend the knees and return to the starting position. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions with two medium springs.
Bridging the Gap
A pregnant woman's growing stomach puts increased strain on the lower back. Bridging during the first trimester helps strengthen the hamstrings and core muscles to better support the extra weight. Lying face up on the carriage, place the heels of the feet on the footbar hip-width apart, taking care to keep the feet straight and evenly spaced. Contract the glute muscles as you lift the hips up off the carriage. Hold the bridge position, push the carriage back until the legs are almost straight and then bring the carriage back to the starting position. Perform two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Lifting for Two
Strengthening the upper body helps the mother to have better posture, and she can also build strength to carry a heavy car seat. Add one light or medium spring to the reformer. Kneel on the carriage, facing the front with your feet in line with the shoulder blocks. Hold the short loop in each hand. Brace with the abdominals as you bring the arms straight up to shoulder-height. Circle out to the side, and then return the arms to starting position. Complete 10 to 15 repetitions. Next, flex at the elbow, bringing the palms towards the shoulders to work the biceps. Do 10 to 12 repetitions.
Stand for the Hip
Some standing exercises on the reformer work well during all three trimesters. Standing hip abduction strengthens the outer hip muscles, which can help prevent knee problems from pregnancy weight gain. Add one light and one medium spring. Stand on the reformer with one foot on the spring cover and the other on the carriage, spaced about six inches apart. Stand up tall, bracing with the abs and contracting the glutes as you push the carriage out a few inches. Pause and then slowly return to the start. Complete 10 to 15 abductions on each side.