The Pilates method of body conditioning trains your body and mind to be strong, flexible and balanced. It consists of a series of fluid movements that enhance your awareness of your body’s strength and coordination. Every Pilates movement coordinates with a specific breathing pattern, designed to trigger activation of your deeper core muscles.
These breath-coordinated movement patterns emphasize engagement of your abdominal, pelvic floor muscles and back muscles in every exercise, no matter which muscle group it targets. These muscles are essential to optimal postural alignment, balance and strength.
Pilates During Pregnancy
Pilates benefits the pregnant woman in a number of ways. The method adheres eight basic principles, all of which apply to to pregnancy and the labor process. These include:
5. Flowing movement
Strength With Length
As your baby grows bigger, your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles undergo increasing strain. Meanwhile, your body increases circulation of a hormone called relaxin, which is designed to make your pelvic area more flexible for the birth process. Unfortunately, your body has a systemic reaction to relaxin. It increases flexibility to dangerous levels, which in turn decreases joint stability. Joint instability impairs balance.
When combined with changes in your center of gravity due to a constantly expanding belly, joint instability makes you more susceptible to falls. Unlike yoga, which emphasizes unlimited flexibility, Pilates exercise focuses on strength with length. In other words, you will stretch just enough to alleviate muscular tension, but you will also build enough strength to maintain the integrity of your joints.
Strengthening the Pelvic Floor
Your growing baby might also lengthen, and therefore weaken, the muscles of your pelvic floor. Weakened pelvic floor muscles offer less support to your bowel, bladder and uterus, as they descend t under your baby’s weight. As a result, it becomes more challenging to contract and hold these muscles. Because of this, you might leak small amounts of urine when you cough or sneeze, or feel a sensation of heaviness and bloat down below. Prenatal Pilates instructors incorporate specific pelvic floor exercises, known as kegels, into your Pilates routine.
Improves Postural Alignment
Pregnancy definitely alters your postural alignment. The weight of the baby in your mid-section causes a sway back, which many women maintain long after their baby is born. This poor posture eventually causes lower back pain. Your prenatal Pilates instructor will teach you how to modify your posture to accommodate your baby, whilst maintaining optimal alignment.
Modifying Pilates for Pregnancy
At some point, your doctor or midwife will tell you not to lie in the supine or prone position. A specialized prenatal Pilates class employs different types of props that modify the exercises, allowing you to tone and strengthen your body in a manner appropriate for your pregnancy. As a result, you will experience less discomfort throughout the nine months. Increased awareness of pelvic floor usage might shorten labor time, as well as the postpartum recovery period.
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