Monday, June 13, 2011

Pre and Post-natal Pilates exercises

Did you know our instructors are trained to work with pre and post-natal clients?  We are!  We just had an amazing weekend of workshops teaching us some GREAT exercises for our pre and post-natal clients.  You must have a doctor's clearance to do exercise (especially if it's new exercise) during pregnancy, but staying active (especially in the appropriate way) will help you feel your best throughout your entire pregnancy.  Thanks to the incredible Mary Jo Ketterhagen for sharing all the info and exercises with us! I'm passing a little information on to all of you.

Post-natal refers to the time period between birth and the end of breast-feeding.  During this time women experience a great deal of physical and horomonal changes in their body, and it's important to make appropriate adjustments to their workout routine to help them bounce back in a healthy way.

One important condition that can happen during pregnancy is called Diastasis Recti, where the abdominal wall can actually split apart.  It's important to do exercises that will promote the abdominal wall to mend itself.  Many women may not even know that their abdominal wall has split apart, and will continue doing exercises that will prevent the abdominals from mending.  You can check by lying on your back with your knees bent, put two fingers above your navel, and do a very small sit up.  Your fingers will literally sink into your abdomen if the muscles have split apart.

Any kind of flexion exercises (sit-ups), rotation exercises, extension exercises,  or even exercises with your arms above your head, will actually continue to pull the abdominals apart and prevent them from healing.  But
don't be dismayed!  There are still plenty of exercises you can do to strengthen the abdominals and promote their reconstruction.  Most importantly is to find the connection with your deepest abdominal muscle, the Transversus Abdominus, which acts like a built-in corset around our waist.  When activated, this muscle compresses the entire abdomen, and shrinks the waistline slightly.  A great way to feel this action is to get on your hands and knees, keep your back in a straight line, and start to breathe in.  While you exhale, you should feel the belly button lifting into the spine, without rounding through your back.  You can also feel this muscle while lying on your back with your knees bent.  Place your hands on your tummy or ribcage, and while you exhale, feel the abdominals gently sink away from your hands without pressing your back into the floor.  The engagement of the pelvic floor will also promote the firing of the Transversus Abdominus.

Keep this muscle engaged gently during ALL exercises, and avoid flexion, extension, rotation, and raised arms until the abdominals heal, which can happen fairly quickly if you stick to the right exercises.  There are tons of options for you, and our teachers can show you exercises you can do at home!  You can also order DVDs from STOTT Pilates that have great exercises for Pre and Post-natal clients.  Here's to a healthy and happy pregnancy, birth, and post-natal experience!

1 comment:

  1. Nice article I would say I am impressed with the article. Pilates is unique in that it changes your body shape without necessarily affecting your weight significantly. Pilates also increases flexibility. The exercises can gently promote more flexible muscles and joint motion to increase mobility and decrease pain.
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