Which core exercises are safe during pregnancy and which should I avoid?"
I get this question quite often. Unfortunately, the answer isn't so simple. I'm not a fan of putting clients in a box. Each person, even each pregnant person, differs so much. The beauty of Balance Holistic Health is that each client's strength and weakness are taken into account and addressed accordingly.
Most soon-to-be mommas are googling "prenatal exercise." Upon clicking "SEARCH," they will be met with a big list of things to avoid. The most common advice: avoid core exercises, especially crunches, planks, and twisting.
Often times though, these guidelines are not realistic for most people.
Personally, I can't imagine backing out of the driveway without twisting (I don't have a backup camera on my 2003 Toyota), or avoiding a crunch-like motion to get off of my grandmother's sofa. That's just two examples of when these guidelines would fail me. So what's a new momma to do?
Get to know your body.
The best way to know if an exercise is right for you (at this time) or not is to check out what your core and floor are doing in the exercise. Is your pelvic floor tight? Do you feel pressure in your core? Is your breath coming easy, or getting stuck?
These are all indications of what's going on with your intra-abdominal pressure - or the pressure within the abdominal cavity. This pressure can either go out and down, or in and up. Because of this, I say, you can crunch, plank, or twist, so long as you do so properly and control your pressure.
But how do we control this pressure? With our breath.
Inhale into the ribcage and belly. Notice the pelvic floor relaxes down. As you draw air in, the belly will move outward gently - this is not forcefully pressing the belly out, but a natural inhale. As you exhale, imagine hugging your baby with your abdominals, and start the exhale at the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor lifts, lower abdominals contract, mid-abdominals, and ribcage hugs down.
The force of the "hug" should match the difficulty of the exercise.
If you are going to bend over to pick up a laundry basket, you will need less "hug" than if you were to bend over and lift a sofa. Get it? The idea here is to avoid over tightening the pelvic floor. Instead, move with intention by slowing the movement down, and matching the tension of the core with the amount of tension required to perform the exercise on the exhale.
Enjoy the process of getting to know your body, and embracing the changes that occur with pregnancy. Approach exercise with an open mind and a curiosity to learn what works best for you. No fear!