Are you sure that it will be helpful to do ab exercises during pregnancy, but not certain which moves are safe? Read these great tips from Kimberly about ab exercises during pregnancy.
The hands on the lower back, the belly pressed forward, the grimace on the face. The pregnancy pose would be cliché if it weren’t so true.
The additional weight, change in posture, hormones and muscle separation can cause lower back pain – sometimes severe – in moms-to-be. While it could be easy to chalk it up as just another pregnancy symptom (like going to the bathroom umpteen times at night), the pain can be eased – if not prevented.
Regular exercise, especially moves to strengthen the trunk of the body. Beginning while trying to conceive and continuing as pregnancy allows, core-specific work can improve strength and support the lower back. The bonus? The focus on the core can help make labor easier and help the body bounce back after birth.
Here are five exercises to try during any state of pre-pregnancy and pregnancy:
Bird dog. This exercise activates the transverse abdominis, the inner muscle of the core, and helps stabilize the low back. It’s performed on all fours, with wrists underneath shoulders and knees underneath hips. Extend one arm out and lift the opposite leg. Hold for seven to eight seconds and return to starting. Switch sides. Be sure to tighten the core to keep the hips stable. Try to do two sets of 12 to 15 reps (per side).
Side plank. A side plank works the obliques, which are on the side of the trunk. Lie on your side with your forearm on the ground and elbow underneath the shoulder. Lift the hips to create a straight line. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times on each side. Plank. Once in the second trimester, pregnant women cannot lie in the supine position, which is the starting point for many ab exercises. The plank allows women to continue building muscular endurance for as long as they are comfortable. With forearms on the ground, palms flat on the ground and elbows underneath shoulders, lift the hips and create a neutral spine. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
Supported leg extension. With the spine supported on a Bosu trainer or similar equipment, pregnant women can modify more traditional exercises. The single leg extension helps engage the muscles of the lower trunk that we often forget about. In a v-position, start with feet flat on the ground. Lift one leg up and extend toward the wall. Return to starting and repeat on the other side. Try to do two sets of 12 to 15 reps (per side).
Kneeling woodchop. The woodchop is a standard ab exercise but by kneeling, one can feel a bit more stable. Kneel down. Hold a medicine ball at the starting point above the left shoulder, high and behind you, keeping the torso facing forward. Slowly, bring the medicine ball down and across your body to the right, to your right hip. Do not rotate your torso and keep your chest, hips and head facing forward. Keep the medicine ball relatively close to your body. Hold this end position briefly before returning to your starting position. Try to do two sets of 12 to 15 reps (per side).
Kimberly Truesdell is an ACE certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Please consult a medical doctor before beginning any exercise program. If you choose to do any of the workouts featured in this post, you do so at your own risk.
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