This week, we'll be featuring tips from experts in the know on all kinds of topics from nutrition to fitness to fashion. Today, Celeste Goodson from MomBod Fitness talks about ways to keep your muscles strong during pregnancy.
Ever wonder what is happening to your muscles, ligaments and alignment as you go through pregnancy? The good news is that as your center of gravity shifts, you can prevent a lot of the imbalance issues by doing SMART pre-natal exercise.
Here is a rundown of the muscles most affected during pregnancy:
Muscles that Tighten during Pregnancy
• The hip flexors
• The thighs
• Deep muscles of the lower back
• The pecs (chest muscles)
• The internal rotators and elevators of the shoulders
Muscles that Weaken during Pregnancy
• Glutes (butt muscles)
• Abdominal muscles (abdominal separation or Diastasis Recti usually occurs)
• External rotators of the shoulder
• Neck muscles
• Pelvic floor muscles
This doesn't mean that these muscles HAVE to respond like this during pregnancy. You don’t have to have that waddle! If you stretch the muscles that generally tighten and strengthen the muscles that tend to get weak you can offset many of these issues and avoid Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation, prolapse, stress incontinence, low back pain, sciatic pain and leg cramps).
Ideally you want all your muscles to be at optimal length (not too long, not too short) so the muscles can be in balance. Then the spine can be held in proper alignment and the body will be less achy and more able to handle the demands of carrying a baby (or two or three, etc…).
How do you prepare the muscles for the demands of pregnancy, labor and delivery?
1. Do your core work -think core stability exercises, not crunches, this is very important to help prepare for delivery and recovery.
2. Do some cardio. Walking is great, aquatic exercise has amazing benefits, and running is fine if your body is used to it and it feels comfortable.
3. Stretch the muscles that tend to tighten and strengthen the muscles that weaken to avoid and minimize body alignment and core function issues after pregnancy. You will be less likely to have back pain, sciatica pain and cramps.
4. Don’t be afraid to wear a belly support. This isn’t just for pregnant moms with back pain—it's for women who want to support the weight of the growing belly, reduce the stress on the back, ligaments, muscles and bladder and want to be able to exercise more comfortably.