When it comes to exercising through pregnancy, you may wonder whether you’re doing the right thing or, indeed, if it may be causing harm to you or the baby. However, the good news is, provided it’s nothing too strenuous, daily exercise will only do you good during pregnancy! Hurrah – all is not lost!
Health experts agree on the benefits of exercise for expectant mums, and The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) suggest that pregnant women should participate in both aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises, three to seven times a week.
Targeted strength-conditioning exercises are a particularly good idea for pregnant mums, in helping them adapt to their changing body shape. And if you’re a runner, this becomes particularly crucial to reducing the risk of injury and discomfort. Iris Quartner, physiotherapist at ESPH East Dulwich, cites retaining good gluteal strength and flexibility in the hip flexors as central to this. “Tight hip flexors commonly found in runners are encouraged in pregnancy due to the weight of the baby pulling the pelvis into a forward tilt position,” explains Iris.
“If the hip flexors are tight it means the gluteals (buttock) muscles are held in a lengthened position. Here, they are at a biomechanical disadvantage, so can’t function effectively and become relatively weak. The gluteals are very important for providing stability to the lower limb and pelvis, and if they are not functioning effectively this can predispose a multitude of biomechanical lower limb running-related problems, such as iliotibial band syndrome (ITB syndrome) or patella-femoral pain syndrome (Runner’s knee).”
Iris also cites the importance of a strong core to reducing the risk of back and pelvic pain, while running through pregnancy. “With the pelvis in the forward tilt position (due to the weight of the baby causing tight hip flexors, tight lower-back muscles and insufficient gluteal activity), the key ‘core’ muscles that help to support and control movement of the spine cannot function effectively and this can result in lower back and/or pelvic pain,” she says. Back pain can also occur as the result of tight hip flexors, says Iris. “If the hip flexors are tight, hip extension will be limited; the consequence of this is that the body will compensate and achieve the extension from elsewhere, often the lower back.”
And, on top of all that, just 20 minutes of strength and conditioning, three times a week, will help you to prepare for labour, while contributing towards your physical and mental health. Convinced? Give this workout a go by ESPH, targeting the hip flexors, abdominal muscles and gluteals.
For a 10% discount off a sports massage at ESPH East Dulwich when booked online, visit http://bit.ly/1U7D7WZ and use code, Runners10. (Offer expires end of June.)