5 Strengthening Exercises to Reduce the Effects of Pregnancy Related Postural Changes
Many women experience aches and pains during pregnancy, these exercises can help to reduce these symptoms.
1. Pelvic Tilts for Neutral Spine- Neutral spine is when your spine is neither arched nor sagging and your core is tightened. To find neutral spine start on your hands and knees and gently rock your pelvis so that the top of your pelvis is tilting back slightly without arching your back. When you have found neutral spine pull your belly button towards your spine without sucking in your tummy. You should feel relaxed in this position and be able to breathe normally.
2. Cat/Camel Stretch- This is a stretch exercise with an emphasis on motion. It can be done several times a day for pain control or as part of your normal exercise routine. You should not feel pain while you are performing this stretch, if you feel pain reduce the amount of movement you are putting through the spine. Start on your hands and knees in the neutral spine position, gently push your lower back up and tuck your chin down, and then lower your back until it is slightly sagging and raise your chin up. Repeat this 10 times.
3. Quadruped Leg Raises- This exercise will help to strengthen the muscles of the lower back and core. Start on your hands and knees in neutral spine position. Extend one leg behind you trying to become parallel with the floor without tilting or twisting your spine. Lower your leg until you are back on both knees and alternate to the other leg. Repeat this for 2 sets of 15 reps per leg with a 30 second rest in between sets. To increase the intensity of this exercise you can raise the opposite arm and leg simultaneously to target the upper and lower back muscles.
4. Fire Hydrant- This exercise helps to strengthen the gluteal (buttock) muscles. Start in neutral spine on your hands and knees and slowly raise one leg out to the side while contracting your gluteal muscles. Repeat on the other side. Do not try lift your leg too high as this can cause increased stress in your sacroiliac joints due to their increased laxity during pregnancy. Repeat this for 2 sets of 10 reps per leg with a 30 second rest in between sets.
5. Wall Push Ups- This exercise will allow you to get the benefits of a push up for upper body strength without putting as much strain on you as you grow in pregnancy. Stand facing a wall and step back from the wall about 2 feet, lean forward and place your hands shoulder width apart on the wall. Keeping your shoulder blades close to your spine, lower yourself towards the wall and then push yourself back away from the wall. Repeat this for 2 sets of 10 with a 30 second rest in between sets. To increase the intensity you can perform this with a ball between you and the wall, challenging your core to maintain the stability needed.
Dr. Nicole Fournier