3 Exercise Tips for a Strong Prenatal Core
Farel B. Hruska
Core Strengthening DURING pregnancy? ABSolutely!
The functions of your core musculature as your pregnancy progresses are numerous. The most important of which is to help stave off postural dysfunction. One of the significant spinal changes that may result from an increased anterior load (aka BABY) is an anterior pelvic tilt...this leads to an exaggerated arch at the low back. This arch, if not dealt with, can lead to muscle fatigue and pain. One of the key functions of your core musculature when it is strengthened is to help keep the pelvis in neutral. This, alone, is a fantastic reason to target core strength during pregnancy!
A quick review of the muscles of the core includes looking at it in a 3 dimensional and cylindrical way. Your core is much more than your "6 pack". Consider thinking of your core as a cylinder with a top; your diaphragm, and a bottom; your pelvic floor. The other major muscles that complete it are:
- Transverse Abdominis: They are your deepest level and run parallel to the ground. When they contract they narrow the waist, like a corset.
- Obliques: Diagonal muscles which aid in twisting.
- Rectus Abdominis: Running from sternum to pubic bone; this set of muscles flex the spine (think: crunches)
While they are so many other muscles, these are the main players in core strength. To maintain your neutral spine as your baby grows, here are three functional core exercises to incorporate into your prenatal workouts:
1. Woodchop-Using either a weight or a resistance band, start in a squat with both hands down towards one ankle. Come out of the squat and then rotate the arms and torso upwards diagonally towards the sky. Keep your entire 3-D core engaged, as your obliques strengthen in rotation. (Motherhood application: Picking the car seat off the ground and placing it in the car)
2. Cat/Cow-On your hands and knees round the back up to the sky (Cat) and then gently arch (Cow). The degree of the arch is dependent on the comfort of your spine; going to simply neutral will work, as well. Be mindful of the "Cat" portion of the movement, if done with intention, this can be a great exercise for your rectus abdominis. It is essentially a crunch turned upside down. (Motherhood application: Standing up from sitting in chair with your baby in your arms)
3. Wall Sit with Adduction-Get into a wall sit with your shoulders pressed against the wall. Place something between the knees (we like a SPRI Sponge Ball) to engage your inner thighs. When your inner thighs are engaged, this puts good tension on the pelvic floor muscles, which secondarily strengthens them! BONUS! (Motherhood application: Possibly NOT leaking when you run to your baby!)
Keep your beautiful core in mind with these three movements as you exercise throughout your healthy pregnancy....Your spine will thank you! To find a village of prenatal moms check out Fit4Baby in your community.
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*Always obtain your physician's clearance before attempting any fitness program