During pregnancy it’s really important to understand all the changes happening to your body and how you can work with those changes through exercise to ensure an easier birth and recovery in the post natal period.
One of the key areas is the core. The Diaphragm, Abdominals, Pelvic Floor and Thoracic and Lumbar muscles in the back are all part of your core. Did you know that in pre-pregnancy these muscles are connected and activated through breathing?
However, during pregnancy, the growth of the foetus causes the Diaphragm to displace, the abdominals to stretch, the Pelvic Floor has added pressure and the back muscles weaken creating postural changes and they are no longer in synergy. This contributes to poor posture where the pelvis usually tilts forward (anterior tilt) the lower and upper back have exaggerated curvature (Lordosis and Kyphosis) and the abdominals eventually separate with the stretching needed to make room for the foetus (Diastasis Recti). The pelvic floor is trying to cope with excess weight and is put under severe stress trying to do its job. Pain, particularly in the back and pelvic region, can become significant and if we do nothing, or if we do the wrong thing these muscles can weaken further magnifying these symptoms. This is certainly what happened to me in my first pregnancy.
So how can we address this imbalance?
We need to keep these muscles activated and, through all the changes happening, connected and this can be done through breathing. Exhaling in particular creates a synergy of the core muscles so that they all work together to protect the core. So during exercise and/or functional movement we must be sure to exhale on the exertion. This is the point where the effort is the greatest during the exercise or movement. So in the example of the bicep curl the hardest part, where there is the greatest effort, is when we lift the hand toward the shoulder. Therefore when we lift the hand toward the shoulder we must exhale to protect the core and keep it strong throughout the movement. If we apply this approach to all exercises and functional movement it is a great first step in correcting and maintaining the core function before, during and after pregnancy.
I hope you have found this helpful. Next time we will look at how the pelvic floor is affected and what we can do to protect and repair these vital and often forgotten muscles.
Make sure you are seeking guidance from a qualified fitness professional when taking on exercise during pregnancy. If you’re interested in finding out more please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website at www.zafirepersonaltraining.co.uk.
See you next week, have a good one!