Staying Fit While Pregnant – Key Areas to Keep Strong!

Earlier in my pregnancy I was physically able to still do all the exercises I taught, and it was only my cardio endurance that suffered (why? See previous blog!). However, recently I’ve noticed new limitations when it comes to certain movements in relation to my ever growing stomach. Obviously I can no longer lie on my stomach, but I also can not bring my knees to my chest in a v-sit crunch, and I now must raise the handlebars on my spin bike so my knees don’t knock my belly.

Overall these are minor issues, with modifications available, and a big belly is not going to keep me from moving and sweating! Over the next 4 months I will face new challenges as my body changes shape and gains weight, plus I’ve been told the delivery day can be quite the ordeal, both emotionally and physically (total understatement!!!). So along with general cardio and strength training, there are specific muscle groups I want to keep strong so I can not only continue to do the job I love, but also prepare me for a safe and issue free labor, and set myself up for a fast postpartum recovery.

These areas to target are the core, shoulders & upper back, thigh muscles & glutes, and the pelvic floor muscles, and they work together to maintain good posture, body alignment, and balance. That actually covers most of the body haha, but I guess that just shows the affect pregnancy has on the body. There are not many muscles and joints that are left unaffected!

Sarah Shoulder Rows (2)

Posture is important for everyone, not just when you are pregnant. But when pregnant, as the weight increases and shifts forward, the body has a tendency to compensate for this imbalance by arching the lower back (known as lordosis) and the shoulders slump forward. The change in posture places added pressure on the lower back, causing significant pain. To keep good posture hold shoulders back with your chest open, and tilt the pelvis until you have a neutral spine.

Proper body alignment of the spine is also very important to overall health for everyone. Misalignment can lead to headaches, back and/or neck pain, impact breathing, and affect brain function. There are many muscles that work to maintain a healthy alignment and that includes the pelvic floor muscles. Both men and women have these muscles, but for women the pelvic floor goes through immense changes during pregnancy that can affect its role in aligning the spine, as well as supporting the pelvic organs. By strengthening these muscles during and after pregnancy you can prevent chronic problems down the road. I’ll be the first to say that pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegels) are pretty damn boring, but if I stick with it, I know my future self will thank me!

Just like good posture and body alignment, a strong sense of balance is essential for all populations. But balance is especially important for those pregnant, because we are now carrying such precious cargo, our baby! But finding your balance when pregnant becomes extra challenging, because as the stomach grows the body must adjust and adapted to its changing centre of gravity. To overcome this challenge, you will need to maintain a strong back, glutes, and thighs, aka squats and lunges!! And keep up with balance exercises throughout your pregnancy so are continually adapting to the shift in weight.

Sarah BOSU Lunge (2)

Hitting all these muscles groups (the core, shoulders & upper back, thigh muscles & glutes, and the pelvic floor muscles) over the next 4 months should keep me feeling strong, happy, and healthy up to the delivery day. And I am optimistic that my efforts will lead to a strong, happy, and healthy body after our baby has arrived. As for the delivery day, it is going to come up fast. Unfortunately there will be many things you will not be able to control on that day, so there is no point stressing about those things now. All you can do is take action on the things you can control. For me, that is maintaining a fit and healthy body now, and hopefully that is enough!

 

Want to take action and stay fit while pregnant?

Join me for a 8 weeks Prenatal Fitness class to build strength, improve cardio, and get to know other soon-to-be moms! All exercises are designed and modified specifically for you, so as your belly grows you can feel comfortable and safe while breaking a sweat!

The Blitz Prenatal Fitness Class will run Sundays at 10am, starting February 21 so sign up here: 

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