As you may know, I am following an online pregnancy pilates programme to keep exercising through pregnancy. You can read little more about it here. I have had some fantastic support and encouragement from Dr. Joanna Helcke, a top pregnancy and post-natal health expert. She has collaborated with me on this post to share some great information on exercising safely during pregnancy, with some handy do’s and don’ts. I hope this information will be helpful and dispel any myths around keeping active when pregnant. I have spoken to some women before who stopped exercising all together when they became pregnant, which is not necessary. Here is some more information from Dr. Joanna Helcke:
- First of all, nothing is ever lost. One of the annoying things about fitness is, of course, that when you stop exercising your fitness levels start to drop. Frustrating. But having said this, the moment you start up again, lo and behold, your fitness levels build up again like magic. So scaling things down if and when it is necessary to do so, should never be seen as some sort of an irredeemable curse but simply as a phase.
- So this takes me neatly to the second point which is that you do need to actually listen to your body as it is usually rather good at telling you when to give it a break. Work through the tell tail signs and you risk injury, and these signs are things like when the exercise is simply too tough for you to do with perfect technique. Take a long, hard, honest look at what you are doing and how it feels. Are you performing the exercise with effortless grace (!) or is it all so tough that muscles are shaking uncontrollably, you’ve lost that perfect posture when performing the exercise and you can feel yourself using all the wrong muscles – an example of this is when you are doing an abdominal exercise and all you can really feel is your back twinging.
- And what about after exercising? Even when pregnant, there’s nothing wrong with having a few aching muscles where you’ve done a good workout but do you feel utterly drained? Do you feel as though you are running on empty? Have you developed aches in joints or weird pulling sensations in all the wrong places? These are all indications that you weren’t doing the right exercise for you.
- Now let’s take a look at the exercise class format. Years ago I used to attend classes. Nowadays I train on my own but I also have a coach – yes, the trainer needs a trainer there to correct technique, push and stretch in all the right ways! Anyway, I used to attend classes and what always stood out to me was the difference between those teachers who took the time to care for every individual in the class by modifying, adapting or even progressing exercises and also by correcting, as opposed to those instructors who delivered a one-size-fits-all class. Or even worse, there were those teachers who clearly thought that the class was their own workout a the day, so they’d be busy giving it 100% whilst oblivious to the sea of poor technique facing them. There was one teacher who really stood out for me – Helen, a wonderful specialist in Pilates – and the reason she stood head and shoulders above everyone else was because she individualised her teaching. Each participant was an individual bringing to class his or her set of restrictions, limitations and goals, and Helen knew them all and tailored her classes accordingly. So ask yourself this: do the classes you attend have instructors who simply go through the motions? If so, I’d be thinking again about whether these are safe options for you in pregnancy and postnatally.
I am really enjoying following the pregnancy pilates programme and really feel the benefit after I have completed the weekly workout. My lower back and hips ache far less when I have been mobile. How do you keep active during pregnancy? I’d love to hear in the comments below!