23 June, 2008

Prenatal Fitness

A pregnant woman is not fragile. The differences experienced are not only in her shape and weight but she also undergoes subtle changes in her hormone and cardiac output. Regular exercise (at least 3 times per week) is preferable to intermittent activity. Jerky, bouncy movements are to be avoided. Exercise should be done on wooden floor or tightly carpeted surface to reduce shock and provide sure footing. The body needs to adapt to make the delivery possible. The pelvic region must widen for birth. Bones cannot stretch, therefore a pregnant hormone, namely relaxin, loosens the joints. It is advisable to do some stretching exercises for the inner thigh muscles.

You must avoid the following:

• All ballistic stretching
• Cross body movements
• Forward bending movements
• Deep squats.
• Hyperextending any flex joints

Following exercises are recommended:

Neck exercises

In order to mobilize and strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles, do these neck exercises. Rotate your neck to side, back & front. To further increase the stretch in your neck muscles, open your mouth & tilt the head backwards. Now close your mouth. You will feel a great stretch in your neck muscles. This will help to relieve any stiffness in your neck muscles and get rid of extra flesh in the form of double chin.

Shoulder rotation.

Sit cross-legged & raise your shoulders towards your ears. Pull the shoulders back so that the chest is expanded. This will help you to strengthen your upper back muscle called trapezius. This will also help you to relieve pain in the upper back and the neck region. This will help to prevent rounded shoulders and humped back. Also rotate your shoulders in circular motions. The exercise also provides support and uplift to the breasts, maintaining their form in the long run.

Cows pose or gomukh asana-

This yoga posture helps a lot to get rid of the cervical pain, which becomes a common complaint during pregnancy. Take your one hand back with elbow bent overhead. With the other hand, press the bent elbow further down. This not only stretches the arms but also works on stiff cervical muscles. Hold this position for a minute and repeat it on the other hand.

Adductors stretch.

Sit cross-legged and bring the soles of your feet together in front of you. Hold them with your hands and pull them closer to yourself. You will be feeling the stretch in your adductors or inner thigh muscles. This will help you to relax and stabilize the pelvis. Hold this stretch for a minute.

Pelvic raise

Lie down flat on your back on the mat. Bend your knees and place the feet flat on the floor. Now slowly exhaling, raise your pelvis off from the floor. Stay in this position for 20 seconds and slowly lower the pelvis down to floor. You can repeat it 2-3 times. This will strengthen the back muscles and relieve lower backache or feeling of congestion in the groin.

Bend forward in box position.

Your spine stays upright all day against gravity and takes the whole load of your body. In pregnancy, due to lumbar lardodic curvature, women have lower back pain.

Come on all fours in a box position. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and your knees should be directly under your hips. Have a neutral back. It should neither arch up nor scoop inside. Lower the elbows down, shifting a lot of your weight forward on your hands. When you do this exercise, the weight of the pregnant uterus is shifted away from the pelvic floor and spine. This will help you to take care of the backache, pain in hips and legs.

Side lying leg abduction

In pregnancy there is tendency towards varicose veins in the legs. Varicose veins are dark and protruding veins that appear as a result of pressure of the head on the pelvis. This exercise helps to relief legs by assisting the blood to flow backwards towards the heart and gives soothing effect to the legs.
Lie on your side with your head placed on one stretched out arm. Raise the upper leg as high as possible for 10 times and the hold it their for 10 seconds. Repeat it on the other side.

Meditation, breathing exercises.

Meditation is relaxing both for the mother and the baby. Sit cross-legged and bring the arms in front of you. Join the thumb and the index finger together. This is called chin mudra. Close your eyes and slowly inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Let your mind and body relax. Focus your attention within you. This will reenergize you. You will feel the mind relaxing just as calm waters of the lake. Once the water is not moving, only then is it possible to see your reflection in it. In turbulent waves it is not possible. Hence ask your mind to relax and you will be able to introspect within.

Ankle rotation-

This exercise is for the ankles. Many pregnant women complain of swelling in the feet. There is strain of extra weight of pregnancy. Hence doing this feels good.
Sit with one leg outstretched in front. Place your other foot on the thigh of this leg. Hold the ankle with your hands and start rotating them clockwise and then anti clockwise. Do it 10 times in each direction and repeat on the other leg.

This article written by Kiran Sawhney is also published on the following web site:


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