Why you need to support your body when exercising during and after pregnancy
By SRC Health
There are many guidelines that dictate what type and intensity of exercise is appropriate during and after pregnancy.
The most recent guidelines from the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) state that pregnant women can exercise as they have done while not pregnant. It’s important to note that they recommend medical guidance for high risk pregnancies, multiple pregnancies and in the incidence of bleeding or contractions that occur around exercise.
The number one thing that needs to be included in any post-natal exercise regime is pelvic floor muscle re-training. Even for those women who did not have a vaginal delivery it is critical to re-train the muscles of the pelvic floor. When in doubt about working out while pregnant, always seek the advice of your doctor.
Exercise during pregnancy should be low impact, graded appropriately for your level of fitness, include a component of pelvic floor muscle training. It should not involve straining, any form of curl-ups or overstretching of ligaments. Ideally it would be delivered by a health and exercise professional with specialised training in pre and postnatal exercise. Walking, yoga, swimming, pilates, some group fitness classes and light resistance training are all ideal forms of exercise.
During pregnancy, relaxin, the hormone that softens your ligaments (the support structures for your joints) peaks in second trimester. This means that it’s important to avoid overstretching as ligaments don’t “snap” back into their previous state. Often women pursuing yoga as their form of pregnancy activity present with unstable joints from overstretching, so if yoga’s your thing make sure that you are taking part in a pregnancy specific yoga practice to keep things safe.
In the third trimester there is a big shift in your centre of gravity which means things that require balance and co-ordination are risky for some expectant mums. There’s also more pressure on the abdominals with a greater risk of splitting them down the middle with strenuous activity involving the abdominal wall. There’s also more weight and load on the pelvic floor so high impact activities should be minimised to avoid more stress on this area.
SRC Pregnancy Shorts and leggings are ideal for exercise during pregnancy. The gentle compression promotes supporting pressure to the pelvis and stimulates the underlying muscles to remain active to assist in making the pelvic joints more stable. The reinforced patented gusset design allows maximum support to the thighs and lower leg area.
After birth, even for those women who did not have a vaginal delivery it is critical to re-train the muscles of the pelvic floor. A good analogy is to leave an elephant sitting on a trampoline for a few months and then see how bouncy the trampoline is after that!
The other really important reason is that the pelvic floor muscles work with the muscles of the abdominal wall helping to reduce any degree of muscle separation that may be present and restoring the function of muscles that have undergone a caesarian section.
As for cardiovascular exercise you can’t beat walking for low impact, cheap and plentiful exercise that can be undertaken early in your postnatal period - more vigorous forms of exercise can be straining on the pelvic floor early on until it regains function which can take up to 6 months or longer - this is where you need guidance from an appropriately trained professional.
Many mothers choose to exercise in SRC Recovery Shorts. The gentle compression promotes supporting pressure to the pelvis, back and abdominal muscles improving your mobility and will actually help you regain your pre-baby body shape. Mobility is the key. By activating the core muscles with gentle compression this provides support and stimulates strengthening of the abdominal muscles facilitating muscle recovery.
Unique SRC garment technology enables muscular activity and promotes muscle stimulation. This is not possible if you choose a corset, girdle, or rigid support garment. From day 1 you can be confident in the knowledge that your SRC Recovery Shorts are doing their job even when you’re not active.
Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.