With smooth movements, a focus on breathing and gentle strengthening, Pilates is a safe and effective way for women to exercise during pregnancy. In fact, Pilates is often incorporated into pregnancy physiotherapyclasses, providing pre and postnatal mothers with a variety of benefits. Some women even claim that incorporating Pilates into their routine prior to giving birth resulted in a more successful pregnancy, delivery and recovery.
At Spinal & Sports Care, our highly qualified physiotherapists in Castle Hill, Wetherill Park and Parramatta are experienced in pregnancy physiotherapy, providing women with a safe and beneficial way to strengthen their muscles to support their changing body and optimise their recovery. From reducing back pain to strengthening pelvic floor muscles, the benefits of pregnancy physiotherapy and Pilates for expecting and new mothers are far and wide.
Reduction in Back Pain
Back pain, particularly lower back pain, is a highly prevalent condition for pregnant women, with studies showing that between 50 and 70 per cent of individuals suffer from the discomfort. While back pain is generally expected to a certain extent during pregnancy, chronic pain and discomfort can be debilitating, disruptive and extremely unpleasant. Back pain is usually induced by a range of factors including the increase of hormones, additional weight, posture issues and stress, however, Pilates and pregnancy physiotherapy classes can alleviate the problem and potentially prevent it altogether.
Often, people who suffer chronic back pain do so as a result of weaker abdominal muscles. Pilates, particularly during pregnancy, aims to strengthen these deep abdominal muscles in order to support the back, thus alleviating pain. Furthermore, the added weight can also contribute to poor posture, therefore contributing to back pain. Again, poor posture is attributed to weak core muscles, and therefore strengthening them in a safe and gentle manner, reduces the stress placed on the back and eases the pain associated with it.
Furthermore, during the second trimester of pregnancy, some women may experience ‘diastasis recti’ in which the abdominal muscles have separated. This separation reduces back support, making it more susceptible to pain and injury. Low impact exercise as seen in Prenatal Pilates and pregnancy physiotherapy focuses on alignment and core strength to prevent abdominal separation and therefore reduce strain on the back.
In relation to back pain, improper balance can also be to blame. As a woman’s body grows during pregnancy, it is not uncommon to experience instability or clumsiness as the body tries to support the additional load. However, as Pilates is centred around the aim to strengthen deep core muscles, which helps to not only support the back but provide adequate stability, balance can be improved. Our physiotherapists at Parramatta, Castle Hill and Wetherill Park are qualified in providing safe and effective Pilates exercise to pregnant women in order to strengthen their abdominal muscles to relieve back pain and improve overall stability.
Strengthens pelvic floor muscles
Pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that help support pelvic organs in the body. During pregnancy and childbirth, these muscles often experience great strain and become weakened as a result. Although this is common, weakened pelvic floor muscles can lead to incontinence which can potentially have a negative impact on daily activities.
However, pregnancy physiotherapy treatments such as Pilates exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy in a gentle and safe manner. By strengthening the pelvic floor muscles to cope with stretching during pregnancy, incontinence can be prevented.
Helps control breathing
Pilates exercises also place a great emphasis on optimal breathing techniques which can be extremely beneficial for pregnant women to master. Deep or diaphragmatic breathing as used in Pilates can first and foremost promote relaxation, during what can sometimes be an emotional and stressful time.
However, diaphragmatic breathing can also be beneficial to both the mother and baby, as the diaphragm muscle encourages the flow of oxygen, blood, lymph’s and nutrients while also assisting with waste removal in all the organs and tissues of the body, including in the womb. Fast developing cells such as a growing baby also demand the most nutrient supply. Deep breathing as encouraged in prenatal Pilates can help enhance this process.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon for some women to experience shortness of breath, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. Pilates breathing helps strengthen the diaphragm which can often become weakened as the uterus grows. A growing baby can restrict the ability to take deep breaths, therefore, effectively strengthening the diaphragm to remain strong enough to continue to gently expand is ideal. Pilates breathing exercises can also prepare women for effective breathing during labour.
It is important to remember that not all exercises, including some Pilates positions, are suitable for pregnant women. It is always advised to speak with your Doctor before initiating in any form of exercise during pregnancy. Our highly qualified physiotherapists at Castle Hill, Parramatta and Wetherill Park are experienced in safe movements during pregnancy. As a guideline, it is recommended that women do not lie in a supine position (lying horizontally with the face and torso pointing up) after week sixteen. It is also important to reduce the load on the rectus abdominus after week twelve while lying in the supine position of 30 degrees or less in late gestation is also not recommended.
Pregnancy physiotherapy and Pilates is a safe and gentle way for women to exercise during pregnancy, under the supervision of a qualified physiotherapist or advice from a medical practitioner. The exercises included do not put strain on other joints, while aim to strengthen the muscles that support the womb. These strengthening exercises can also be effective in optimising recovery post pregnancy.
At Spinal and Sports Care, our passionate physiotherapy team located at Castle Hill, Wetherill Park and Parramatta are dedicated to providing effective treatments to manage a variety of conditions and injuries. Pilates is an ideal pregnancy physiotherapy treatment that provides immense benefits during and after pregnancy. For more information on pregnancy physiotherapy treatments available at our Castle Hill, Parramatta and Wetherill Park clinics, or to learn more about Pilates, please do not hesitate to call our team (02) 9683 1110. Alternatively, you can book an appointment to visit your local clinic by using the online booking form.