Modern Pregnancy Exercise – Functional Integrated Core Strength Throughout the Trimesters
Today’s guest post is by Jenny Burrell and first appeared on her blog, Burrell Education, where you can visit and learn more about her work.
When my wonderful colleague Ginger Garner asked me to share my thoughts on Pregnancy Exercise, I did a little Google search and found it pretty challenging to find a picture that didn’t involve a birthing ball….and indeed the picture above intimates that ‘Pregnancy Exercise’ = sitting on a birthing ball. PS, I don’t have anything against them per se but in my role as both an Ante/Post Natal Fitness Educator, Remedial Therapist and Fitness Trainer birthing balls feature hardly ever in my work for this client population who have presented for ‘functional exercise training’, because quite simply, unless that mom is planning on sitting down for most of her day during Pregnancy, during labour and post birth….sitting on an inflated ball in preparation for her activities of daily life with me isn’t really fulfilling the brief…..
But don’t worry, I’m not all sergeant major-ish, with an intolerance for sitting Pregnant women :-), indeed, quite the opposite…..my practise of ‘functional Pregnancy exercise programming’ means that I map my client’s activity to the goals of the day in terms of getting through her daily activities well with a strong emphasis on honouring the integrated nature of body as a whole via the muscular slings, the myofascial system and the breath. This means that I’m mostly going to work with this lovely lady in the standing position, make the movements easy paced, rhythmical and client-led, we’ll what feels wonderful for her and always coach the meaning of every movement prescribed on an intrinsic and extrinsic level….and for a little icing on the cake I’ll do all of this to some super chilled music to help calm the adrenals and pamper the parasympathetic nerve system. All moms need ‘me time’…..and being a facilitator of this precious commodity is a powerful thing……
So, I’d like to share with you some of what I do….simple, functional integrated core strength work, perfect during Pregnancy. For many professional and expectant moms this is sometimes a grey area and one that generates a lot of fear…..’what kind of ab work is ok and for how long’ is the main question that many have. For many it’s a case of carrying on with what one did before until it’s too uncomfortable which is such a shame because there are just soooo many wonderful ways to keep the Pregnant ‘core’ integrated that could be explored. Ultimately, Pregnant moms need to keep connected to their core least of all for the work of labour but do it in a way that respects the changes of each Trimester and altered priorities.
Below the video, there are some quick explanations of WHY these movements work to keep all the muscular systems and myofascial lines and consequently the Pelvic Floor all communicating throughout all the Trimesters. The moves will also improve alignment by strenthening up the rear kinetic chain and when the concentric phase of the exercises are timed with the outbreath….with also activate the quadrilateral elements of the ‘core’ and drive the unconscious activation of the Pelvic Floor…..I hope you enjoy them
1. Contra-Frontal Push Out & Return With Foot Drag – the movement in opposite directions energizes the oblique slings and the foot-drag unconsciously activates the Pelvic Floor via the adductors……time the return to the centre with the outbreath and activate the natural synergy of the core – diaphragm lifts, PF is activated etc.. There’s also a little single-leg squat that will keep the glutes strong and help offset the anterior tilt that so many Pregnant clients slip into.
2. Wall Angels – key move to keep the thoracic back strong to offset Upper Crossed Syndrome and keep the mom in great alignment with the ability to breathe beautifully.
3. Resisted Wall Push-Aways – the humble press-up made vertical with a twist, add a little more resistance by working against a rubber band….time the push away with the outbreath and visualize a total ‘lift’ of the Pelvic Floor to ‘supersize’ the sense of connection.
4. Multi-planar, Multi-height Rows – we take the row out of the saggital plane and away from just chest height for something that looks more like the unexpected activity of real life and stimulates the entire abominal wall and the mid/low and upper back. The rowing action is great again for those rear thoracic postural muscles when the pull is timed with the outbreath and a visualization to ‘lift’ the entire Pelvic Floor added…..the ‘integrative magic’ happens…….
About the Author
Jenny Burrell is the head of Burrell Education, the UK’s only Licensed Education Provider specializing solely in Fitness/Wellness/Therapy education for professionals serving women during Pregnancy, Post Baby and the 3rd Age.