It can be puzzling to know what the best approach is for a pregnant woman in terms of sport and exercise.
To help you out, we asked Annelies Valvekens, founder of Fit Mom Club to take this confusion away. By analysing every client individually and pointing out what the body needs to be fit and strong, she ensures a better and faster recovery after birth and a pregnancy that will be as relaxing as possible.
Annelies talks us through some important do's and don'ts to avoid physical discomforts during pregnancy.
DO: Keep on moving
Staying active is one of the most important aspects during pregnancy (note: also when you're not pregnant ;-)). Many women nowadays have sedentary jobs and sit still for the majority of the day. Less active muscles can later cause physical complaints or difficulties during childbirth.
80% of women who experience pelvic complaints during pregnancy have a sedentary occupation. A pregnancy demands a lot from your body and pelvic floor, so regular exercise is advisable. Sports like walking, cycling or swimming are recommended throughout pregnancy.
DON’T: Do high impact workouts
High impact sports are to be avoided. Running, contact sports or sports with risk of falling demand a lot of your body. Vigorous physical exertion can make the pelvic floor become to tense, which increases the risk of pelvic complaints such as loss of urine or pelvic pain. Your pelvic floor should be able to relax during childbirth.
If you don't have an optimal connection with your pelvic floor (try active tension and relaxation) I advise against running from the 2nd trimester onwards, even if you don't experience any physical complaints and if you already ran fanatical Marathons before, it is wise to listen to your body.
Training your deep breathing is extremely important. Breathing through your diaphragm is a natural way to strengthen your pelvic floor. It teaches you to regulate the intra abdominal pressure and when breathing out correctly you activate your pelvic floor and transverse abdominal muscles plus the rest of your core. I always tell my clients "to breathe in 360°" and not only via chest or abdominal breathing.
DON’T: Put stress on the straight abdominal muscles
From halfway through the second trimester avoid exercises that directly or indirectly stress the straight abdominal muscles, such as sit ups, planks, but also pull ups and incorrect breathing (see above) to avoid too much pressure on your abdomen. You cannot prevent diastasis during pregnancy but you can try to avoid dysfunctional or permanent diastasis and/or pelvic floor complaints such as loss of urine afterwards.
DO: Focus on the oblique abdominal muscles
Your oblique abdominal muscles or transverse abdominis are part of the deep core system. It's a group of four muscles that together protect your spine and organs during movement and thus stabilise your torso. The exercises on the oblique abdominal muscles will return as anti-movements of the back such as anti-rotation and anti-extension. Like a side plank, a pallof press or cable chops. Because you can no longer put tension on the straight abdominal muscles during pregnancy, we focus on our glutes, multifidus and pelvic floor. But, as always, all the muscles in your body are important.
Want to train your oblique muscles? We made you a workout!
DO: Mobilize the upper back
Mobilising your upper back during pregnancy can do a lot of good. When you are limited in certain movements, you tend to compensate elsewhere and you prefer to move as little as possible from the lower back. A better mobility of your upper back ensures that you can also tighten the deep core muscles during certain exercises.
DO: Ignore pelvic complaints
Pelvic complaints in uni-lateral exercises? It's better to avoid those kind of exercises and adjust your strength schedule to squats, deadlits & hip bridges. Visit a physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic complaints and get personal guidance.
More info: https://anneliesvalvekens.com