Safe Strength Training When Pregnant
Pregnancy is no reason to stop training - quite the opposite. Moderate strength training while pregnant keeps you fit and mobile and helps prevent back pain and developing diabetes during pregnancy.
Strength training during pregnancy keeps you mobile and gives you enough strength for two.
Pregnancy causes major changes in your posture. This is because your weight increases and centre of gravity moves forward. The instinctive response is to arch your back, which creates extra work for skeletal muscles and often causes tension and back pain that radiates into the legs.
Pregnancy also causes hormonal changes. The levels of relaxin and oestrogen increase, which relaxes connective tissue, tendons and ligaments. This in turn increases the load on the joints, particularly the hips, knees and ankles. In addition, the entire pelvic ring stretches in preparation for childbirth.
Fit and free of pain
Studies have shown that moderate strength training at low to medium intensity and adapted to the course of the pregnancy is a safe and effective way to remain fit and free from pain. For example, training on the Lumbar Extension machine increases the strength of the back extensor muscles, which provides highly effective protection against lumbar tension and pain. Training the latissimus dorsi and trapezius muscles on the C3 reduces the strain on the spine as a whole. This exercise is also beneficial in that it provides a pleasant stretch of the spine.
Mobile and independent
Training also has other benefits; strong muscles increase the stability of joints, e.g. training the small and middle gluteal muscles on the A3 increases the stability of the pelvic ring. At the same time, regular training increases the strength and resilience of ligaments and tendons that have become lax as a result of hormonal releases during pregnancy.
It's also important to train the legs while pregnant. As your weight increases, you need more energy to sit down, stand up, walk or climb stairs. In other words, you need enough strength for two. In order to stay mobile and agile, we highly recommend the B1 and B7 exercises.
Other good reasons why you should train
Strength training and regular exercise help prevent excessive weight gain, provided of course that you eat sensibly. This can mean a couple of kilograms less bodyweight to carry around.
In addition, the body mass index prior to the pregnancy is a prime factor in determining the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes during pregnancy. Both are much less common in women who did both endurance and strength training before their pregnancy than in women who only did endurance training or no exercise at all.
Last but not least, pregnancy and childbirth increase the load on the pelvic floor muscles. Intensive pelvic floor training on the A5 helps keep these muscles strong and elastic. It can prevent incontinence during and after pregnancy and improves the support available to your growing baby. In addition, well trained pelvic floor muscles relax more easily during the birth and so the birth itself is easier.
Providing your pregnancy is normal and without complications, training can continue up to the time of the birth. In the event of complications, the decision must rest with your obstetrician. In summary, it's important to maintain your fitness and physical independence during pregnancy. If you have any questions, feel free to ask your local Kieser physiotherapist or instructor for advise on safe and healthy training while pregnant.