History of pilates
Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates in the 1900s and has traditionally been used by professional dancers to maintain the strength, flexibility and suppleness necessary to prevent injuries.
The movements were designed to improve posture, strengthen muscles and firm up the abdominals and back, without using weights, although there are many machines that can be used.
Modern Pilates involves a mat and can be done throughout your pregnancy with a few minor modifications to accommodate your changing body.
Good for pregnancy
Pilates exercises are usually done with few repetitions, as each one is precise, controlled and moves through several planes of motion.
Pilates is a great choice for pregnancy as it focuses on improving posture and breathing awareness, building strength in the abdominal muscles as well as creating an awareness of the pelvic floor and strengthening that area as well.
All this will help make your pregnancy more comfortable and pain-free. You will learn how to relax, which will prove to be invaluable during pregnancy, labour and after baby arrives.
Pilates is very adaptable. As your body changes, so does its needs and abilities. It becomes harder to do the same things. By modifying the exercise, you will keep the intent of the exercise, but adjust the form to work with your changing body.
Being a bit more cautious during exercise
While prenatal Pilates is not particularly strenuous you need to pace yourself as your energy levels will change and you do not want to overwork yourself. As your baby grows, your centre of gravity will shift.
You may find that you need to be a bit more cautious when doing certain things – like getting up and down for mat work or working out on an exercise ball.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy promote flexibility in the joints and muscles. Women do experience more strains to their muscles and ligaments during pregnancy because pregnancy hormones are making them more “stretchy”.
Working in a smaller range of motion is often a good way to tune into the subtleties of an exercise. For example, this would be a good time to work with tuning into the inner core muscles, breathing well and gently working with oppositional stretch.
Exercise during the second trimester
Once you are into your second trimester it will be time to stop doing exercises while lying flat on your back. The maximum amount of time on your back is 3 minutes. This is recommended because of the possibility of obstructing blood supply to the baby.
Also, do not put your feet over your head. You need to eliminate any sharp percussive movements from your routine.
Pregnancy is a very rewarding time to tune inward and connect with the core of Pilates – concentration, precision, breath and flow.
Go to page 2 for some recommended pilates exercises