The benefits of maintaining strength during pregnancy are numerous, including maternal well-being, decreased musculoskeletal pain, and decreased risk for gestational diabetes and other lifestyle related pregnancy risks. The following pregnancy Pilates exercises provide gentle stretch and strengthening exercise during pregnancy.
Spine Stretch Warm-Up - Begin seated with legs crossed. Slowly roll your spine forward one vertebrae at a time, and take a deep breath in and as you exhale roll your spine back up, and open your shoulders bringing your hands behind you, extending at the mid back. Repeat 10 times.
Saw - Sit up tall with legs staggered. Pulling your belly button in towards your spine, lean forward over the extended leg, reaching long. Slowly roll back up to tall seated position again. Repeat 5x on each leg.
Leg Extension - Begin propped up on your elbows, pelvis facing the ceiling. Keep your abdominals engaged, pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Gently lift one leg up into a 90 degree table top position, extend the leg long, then return to the 90 table top position. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
Lower and Lift - Still propped up on elbows, raise one leg towards the ceiling with the knee straight. If your hamstrings are tight and this position is uncomfortable, allow the knee to bend slightly. Keep abdominals engaged, and lower the leg down to a 30 degree angle without allowing your pelvis to move or your back to slouch. Return the leg back up and repeat 10 times on each leg.
Bridge - Plant your feet shoulder width apart with knees bend, and place hands slightly behind your hips, fingers facing forward. Keep your abdominals engaged and lift your hips (and baby!) up towards the ceiling. Gently set hips back down and repeat 10 times.
Bridge with March - Begin as above, lifting pelvis toward the ceiling. Stabilize your pelvis and do not allow it to move as you lift one leg up with control, then set it back down, then repeat on the other leg. Set the pelvis down, and then repeat 10x.
As with all exercise during pregnancy, if you experience discomfort, discontinue activity and consult your health care provider.
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