To strengthen the pelvic floor and prevent incontinence issues, Kegel exercises are a critical part a pregnant woman's exercise routine. These can be done anywhere, and in any position. Do sets of 10, with a 5-10 count hold, 8-10 times a day.
Keeping your core strong throughout pregnancy will help prevent backaches and provide extra pushing power during delivery. As pregnancy progresses, you will need to make modifications to prevent injury; For example, lying on your back is not recommended after the 1st trimester. It is important to always connect your breathing to your exercises, especially with abs and pelvic floor work. Exhalation and exertion work together. So, breathe out as you pull your abs in and inhale as you relax.
Be sure to check if diastasis recti (a separation of the midline of the abdominal muscles, and underlying cause of back pain during and after pregnancy) is present. To check, lie on your back and place your fingers horizontally 1-2 inches below your belly button. Lift your head and shoulders up, and feel the separation below your fingers. If you can fit three or more fingers in the gap, then it is present, and modifications should be made to your workout. Adjust your ab work by crossing your hands across your stomach during crunches, and exhale as you pull your hands together and tighten your abs. This will discourage further separation. To avoid increasing the diastasis do not perform exercises such as double leg lowering, jackknifes, or sitting straight up from a lying position.
Pregnancy is an incredibly exciting time, but should not be a time that is looked upon as a hindrance to an active life. Exercise should be viewed as a way to enhance energy and strength and help prevent the nagging aches and pains that are associated with being pregnant. Be sure to follow the recommendations of your doctors and the above-listed suggestions to stay safe and reap all the wonderful benefits that exercise can provide.
*(During pregnancy, you should not rely on heart rate to judge how hard you're working. You should be using the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale, also called the Modified Borg Scale.)
Injury Prevention in Pregnancy - Part 2
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