Prenatal is a great time to pay attention to the strength and stability around the pelvis. The connective tissue around the joints loosen up in response to pregnancy hormones making the joints more laxed then they would be otherwise. Strengthening and stabilizing the surrounding muscles (low back, gluteals, pelvic floor) early on is important to establish good postural awareness. This comes in handy towards the end of pregnancy when there is significantly more weight in front of the body. It helps in preventing or diminishing low back pain, pelvic pain and increasing endurance. In this video I demonstrate a few exercises that will heighten your awareness of the pelvic floor muscles, loosen tight lower back muscles and strengthen your gluteals. The core is strengthened through stabilizing exercises. Keep in mind not to put to much strain on the abdominal muscles while pregnant, this may lead to a separation of the abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) and weaken them in the post natal phase (honestly, by being pregnant this is already happening, just don’t exacerbate it). Always consult your physician before beginning a new exercise routine. Constantly monitor your intensity and don’t push beyond your comfort zone.
The video begins with a cat cow pose but with a very different intention, pelvic mobilization as oppose to spinal mobilization. The routine involves the inner thigh (adductors) and pelvic floor muscles utilizing a pilates ball. You may substitute a rolled up towel or yoga block.
- While using a pilates ball placed between the knees, focus on tilting the pelvis forward (tuck in your tailbone) and backwards (tailbone placed out and up) keep firm tension on the pilates ball between your knees. The movements are gentle and slow.
- From here stop at a neutral spine position (pelvis is not tilting forward or back and spine is elongated) tuck your toes over the mat and as you exhale, hug your baby, push onto the balls of your feet and slowly extend your knees bringing you into a downward dog. Extend as far as your flexibility will allow. Take a breath and as you exhale, hug your baby, bend your knees and come back to all fours. Repeat this sequence while coordinating your breath to your movements.
- Next a side plank, great for core stabilization without straining the abdominals to much. Again, using the pilates ball, place it between the knees and hold with firm tension. Exhale and hug the baby while moving the hips away from the mat (imagine a lit candle on the mat underneath your waist) hold 2 seconds, slowly return and guide your top arm down towards your down arm – this exercises torso mobility.
- Now into a modified dead lift with a back row. Utilizing the pilates ball as before, and using light dumbells (5lbs). This exercises a pattern that is functional (picking up baby, for example) and you most likely will be doing routinely. The big emphases on this exercise is the movement of the hip and pelvis. Beginning in a tall grounded position, flex at the hips, keeping the spine elongated and torso tall, the knees slightly bend, weights hang down below the shoulder, as you come out of the flexed hip hinge position, bring the arms up in a rowing position, tighten the glutes and sink your heels into the mat.
- I end the routine with gentle stretches of the back, lower legs and upper chest/arms.
Stand tall, Breathe deep!