It’s always great to make sure that you are exercising regularly throughout your pregnancy, with the clearance from your physician of course! For those of you who can’t make it into the gym or go out for a walk before the busy day gets away, here are four exercises that you can do in the luxury of your own home and time.
#1: 3-Dimensional Breathing
Setup: It is helpful to practice this exercise in front of a mirror. While standing, place hands around the lowest part of the rib cage, fingers facing front of the ribs and thumbs facing back of ribs. Allow shoulders to relax away from ears.
Step 1: Inhale and expand the ribcage into your fingers.
– It is helpful to imagine breathing into the thumbs to focus the movement in the back of the ribcage, where we really need it.
– You’ll see the hands move away from each other.
Step 2: Exhale and allow the rib cage to contract.
– You’ll see the hands move toward each other.
– As you breathe, try to eliminate movement of the chest and shoulders.
Am I doing it right? – Try to find movement of the rib cage instead of movement of the chest and shoulders as you breathe.
Repeat 4-5 breaths.
#2: Calf Stretch
Setup: Roll up a towel or use a half roller. Place the ball of your right foot on the apex of the roller, and lower your heel to the ground.
– Step 1: With your feet hip distance apart, scoot the left foot forward until you feel a stretch in your right calf.
– Step 2: Repeat on other side. Notice if there is a difference in tightness between your right and left calf. x
Am I doing it right? – Your weight should be evenly distributed between right and left. You want to be able to stand upright without jutting your ribcage forward.
Repeat 3 times each side for 60 seconds.
#3: Spinal Articulation
Setup: This exercise is helpful to practice in front of a mirror, so you can see what your spine is doing while you move. If your wrists do not have 90 degrees of extension (test this by sticking your arms out in front of you, and extend your fingertips up toward the ceiling by bending the wrists back), you can bolster your wrists by propping them on a rolled up towel to take the pressure off.
Once on hands and knees, position your hips directly over your knees and your shoulders directly over your hands. Press the floor away with your hands to widen the shoulder blades across your back without rounding the spine.
– Step 1: tart by relaxing your abdominals completely.
– Step 2: Slowly flex your spine, using your abdominals to round the low back, pull your navel up toward the ceiling and send your head toward the floor and tail between your legs.
– Step 3: Extend your spine, releasing your tail toward the ceiling, your belly toward the floor, and the crown of your head toward the ceiling.
Am I doing it right? – Notice if you are able to find even flexion and extension through the spine. We want to work on getting more flexion in throughout the lower back (lumbar) and more extension in the upper back (thoracic). Ideally we want to have a uniform amount of flexion and extension through the spine. The goal here is trying to get our spines to safely mobilize in places it gets “stuck,”and reduce movement in those areas where we tend to move too much!
Repeat 5 times.
#4: Candle Breath
Setup: You can do this exercise in any position: lying on your back with knees bent, on all fours, sitting or standing. Start by relaxing your abdominals completely.
– Step 1: Inhale using your 3-Dimensional breath.
– As you slowly exhale, imagine there is a birthday cake in front of your face with 100 candles on it.
– Step 2: Exhale fully and blow out all the candles –> You should feel your abdominals reflexively contract.
Am I doing it right? – Notice if your pelvis is tucking (or posteriorly tilting) as you exhale. Try to keep the pelvis still, maintaining the natural curve of your low back in whatever position you are in.
You can do this!
Nikki Blagden – HATCH Pilates & Fitness Expert