Saturday, July 15, 2017

Why you should practice Pilates during pregnancy

Two of us have recently had babies, and I feel Pilates has helped me have easy pregnancies, both during the pregnancy and after.  Having a baby definitely changes the body, but Pilates can help combat the discomforts and issues.  Here are a few reasons why to continue a Pilates routine:

- Decrease pain in lower back - Pilates exercises target the strength and stability of the pelvis and low back.  The baby grows... the belly grows.  This creates increased pressure on the lower back and possible posture changes.  If the stabilizing muscles around these areas are weak, pain is a result.  Pilates aims to prevent this from happening.

- Pelvic floor strength - As the uterus gets bigger it puts pressure on the pelvic floor.  Your muscles are asked to support this increasing pressure, but Pilates helps to strengthen these muscles.  It also strengthens the push during labor.

- Improve core strength - Pilates targets the deepest abdominal muscles, the transverse abdominis.  During pregnancy the fascia of the rectus abdominis, a more superficial muscle, will stretch and thin. If the fascia separates too much, problems can arise.  Strengthening the transverse abdominis will support the rectus to prevent increased separation of the fascia.

- Stress relief - Being pregnant can create a lot of anxiety for some women.  Pilates and other exercises decrease this feeling.

- Improve breathing - There's a lot of breathing in Pilates.  As the uterus expands, it puts pressure on the diaphragm and makes it hard to breath.  Pilates helps to combat this by tapping into the intercostal  muscles lining the ribcage so women still feel like they can take deep breathes.  Also with the breathing connection that occurs during Pilates, the breathing can make labor a little easier.

- Quicker recovery - The stronger the body is before delivery, the stronger the body will be after.   If moms have the connection to their abdominals before pregnancy they will regain that connection quicker than if they didn't have that connection in the first place.  And don't forgot about all the lifting and bending over to take care of the baby... and maybe any older children.  Strong arms and back will prevent injury, tension, and imbalances due to these activities.

Of course my body is different after my third pregnancy, but I felt strong after delivery.  I didn't have much of a down time afterwards.  I truly believe that practicing Pilates all these years has made my body strong enough to have pregnancies with little discomfort and to bounce back quickly after delivery.

- Mandy Harris

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