What Core Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy?

What Core Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy
What kind of ab exercises are safe during pregnancy? –

  1. Transverse Abdominal Breathing (core breathing)
  2. Plank, Modified Plank or Incline Plank
  3. Side Plank or Modified Side Plank
  4. Bear Crawl
  5. Kneeling or Quadruped Core Exercises (like cat/cow and bird dog)

Your abs are so much more than the rectus abdominus (six-pack abdominal muscles), And during pregnancy you want to focus on safe prenatal core exercises that strengthen the deepest abdominals; your transverse abs which wrap around your body like a natural corset. In general, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says it’s safe to continue regular exercise during pregnancy. This includes most abdominal exercises you were doing pre-pregnancy (with some modifications as needed, especially if you’re coming into pregnancy with existing diastasis recti ).
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Is it OK to do core exercises while pregnant?

Ab Exercises That Are Safe and Beneficial During Pregnancy Back to Top Given all the stretching that your ab muscles go through during pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby, you wouldn’t be the first woman to wonder if there must be something you can do to strengthen them and speed recovery after birth.

  1. The good news: You can take steps to maintain your fitness and keep your core strong while pregnant.
  2. In fact, exercising your abs during pregnancy (with your practitioner’s go-ahead) has lots of benefits, including reduced risk for back pain and potentially even a speedier labor.
  3. Nonetheless, certain physical changes can make it more difficult to stick to the abs routine you practiced before you were pregnant.

Here’s what you need to know about your abs during and after pregnancy, along with some safe core exercises you can try while you’re expecting.
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What kind of ab workouts are safe during pregnancy?

Modified Plank – As long as you’re comfortable doing them, planks are awesome ab exercises for pregnancy, as they build and maintain core strength. Butler gives two variations of the traditional plank: a modified plank on the knees and an incline plank, both of which are safe to do for all trimesters as long as you feel comfortable.

Hold a plank on your elbows and forearms Rest your knees on the mat Stay lifted through your torso and breathe Hold for approximately 30 to 60 seconds, depending on your fitness and comfort level

How to do an incline plank:

Place your hands on a stable, sturdy surface (like the edge of a couch) Hold yourself in a high plank position, with your legs extended back behind you Squeeze your glutes and breathe Hold for approximately 30 to 60 seconds, depending on your fitness and comfort level

What Core Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy Image: Amy Blackwell
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How can I strengthen my core muscles during pregnancy?

Safe Core Strengthening Exercises During Pregnancy – Strengthening your core when pregnant helps to support your pelvic organs as your baby grows and to alleviate pressure on the back. A strong core can also help with the physical demands of labor. Research confirms that there are few-to-none adverse effects of exercising during a non-complicated pregnancy.

However, it is always recommended to consult with your physician before starting an exercise program. Babies that are born to women who exercise during pregnancy have been shown to be less agitated, more alert, and are better able to handle the stress of labor. Pregnant women also benefit from exercise with easier and shorter labor times and enhanced recovery postpartum.

Mangiarelli Rehabilitation physical therapist and pregnant mom herself, Sarah, demonstrates five core strengthening exercises that meet all American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for training during the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy in the video below.

The five core strengthening exercises are (1) opposite arm/leg raise, (2) can-can, (3) modified V-sit on a bench or the floor, (4) seated side bends with a band, and (5) standing pelvic tilts. Begin by performing 10-12 reps and work up to 3 sets a few times a week. There are a few precautions to take when performing core strengthening exercises during pregnancy.

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Avoid lying supine (on your back) after the first trimester as this can decrease cardiac output for mom and baby by putting too much pressure on the vena cava which carries blood to your heart. It is also best to skip full sit-ups, crunches, and double leg lifts as they put pressure on and pull on your abdomen.
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Can I do crunches while pregnant?

Yes, it can be safe to do sit-ups while pregnant, but it depends on how far along you are. Sit-ups and crunches are safe in the first trimester, but it’s best to avoid supine exercises (anything where you lie on your back) once you hit the second trimester.

Lying flat on your back in the second trimester and beyond can lower your blood pressure and make you dizzy. That’s because your uterus is pressing on your vena cava, the large vein that carries blood to your heart from your lower body. (This is a particular concern for the 10 percent of pregnant women who have low blood pressure already.) It’s good to exercise during pregnancy (as long as your healthcare provider hasn’t told you otherwise), and that includes doing some core work to strengthen your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor throughout your pregnancy.

A strong core can reduce lower back pain and help you recover more quickly after delivery – and sit-ups and crunches are two great options early on. But even after the crunches become a no-go, there are still many other types of ab exercises for pregnancy that work these muscles that don’t involve lying on your back or contracting your muscles.
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Can I do a plank while pregnant?

Planks are a great way to maintain your core strength during pregnancy, but you may want to switch to a modified version when you are further along. That’s because although it’s generally safe to do planks while pregnant, it can become more difficult and contribute to problems like diastasis recti,
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Can I do sit-ups while pregnant?

– Many moms-to-be worry that certain activities may hurt their baby. However, when it comes to situps, Dr. Vonne Jones, MD, FACOG, says this exercise won’t harm the baby. “There’s essentially no risk to the baby because the amniotic fluid protects it in the uterus, and the uterus is also protected by an abdominal sheet, which is called the abdominal peritoneum,” she says.

So, if there’s no risk to the baby, why the hesitation to include situps in a pregnancy workout? “There is some risk of increasing the outward pressure on the abs and the downward pressure on the pelvic floor with these exercises,” says Helene Darmanin PT, DPT, CSCS. She explains that this pressure can worsen separation of the ab muscles ( diastasis recti ) and pelvic floor conditions such as prolapse and incontinence.

Plus, putting pressure on the inferior vena cava can cause problems. “Being supine and rounding the spine to perform a crunch or situp can increase pressure on the inferior vena cava, the main vein that returns blood to the heart from the lower body,” says Darmanin.

  1. Darmanin says the body can interpret the pressure as high blood pressure and cause a sudden compensatory drop in blood pressure, which could decrease blood flow to your heart, brain, and fetus.
  2. However, she points out that this effect is most likely symptomatic, and you could roll onto your side to alleviate any dizziness or lightheadedness.

Summary Situps are not a safety risk for your baby, but they may contribute to diastasis recti or uterine prolapse. Plus, it’s recommended that you avoid lying on your back for extended periods of time after the first trimester.
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Can you do burpees while pregnant?

Are Burpees Safe in Pregnancy? “Can I keep doing burpees in pregnancy?” Burpees are a pretty demanding full body movement and because I get asked about them often, I’m sharing some considerations to take and how you can make adjustments to your training to accommodate your evolving body, while also supporting your core and pelvic floor health through pregnancy and beyond.

  • Full burpees require a good amount of coordination and stamina, and they can place quite a bit of stress on the core and pelvic floor.
  • Higher impact movements (like the jumping in/out and up portions of a burpee) can put more pressure on your pelvic floor which is already a bit vulnerable in pregnancy.

Burpees also require core strength which is great, but it can place some strain on your abdominal muscles if pressure isn’t managed well. In addition, a growing baby bump makes it pretty difficult to perform a full range of motion burpee at a certain point.

  • I do not recommend moms to continue full burpees (chest/belly to the floor) once their belly has popped out; the risks of slamming down on your belly far exceed any benefits.
  • So how do you know if it’s time to make a change with burpees? It will vary from woman to woman as far as when she should put a pause on full burpees.
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One woman may be fine continuing them well into the second trimester when another woman may need to stop sooner in the first trimester. Here are a few things to “listen for” when considering if it’s time to take a break from or adjust burpees:

Coning or doming along the midline of the abdomen (particularly during the push-up portion of the burpee) Pulling sensations in the abdomen ANY amount of unintentional leaking (urine or feces) Pelvic pain or pressure Heaviness or a bulge feeling in the vagina Pain during or after exercise (back, hips, pelvic, belly)

If you experience any of these symptoms, you can try adjusting the strategy you are doing to see if that helps, or you can choose another exercise. Remember that this won’t be forever, just for now and it can really help set you up long term! What can you do instead? The great thing is that there are many great options for substitutes for burpees. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Incline burpees (with or without the hop, depending on how your pelvic floor responds) Walking burpees (without a push-up, or a shortened range of motion push-up from the knees) Squat plus an incline push-up Banded burpees (squat plus a banded chest press) Landmine thrusters (squat to press) Any form of cardio (biking, rowing, walking, carries, sled work, etc.)

These are just some options that you can use as substitutes; get creative to maintain versatility in your training. And you do not have to substitute burpees with a movement that completely mimics the response you get from them. Sometimes that is what you need to change completely, so don’t be afraid to do a completely different exercise if needed.

  • As a reminder, just because you can still do burpees at 20+ weeks pregnant, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
  • The rewards rarely outweigh the risks to your core and pelvic floor.
  • There are many different ways you can maintain your stamina during pregnancy without placing more stress on your body.

Want more info on how you can navigate symptoms, exercise, and your journey? Fill out form to schedule a FREE call with me to discuss how you can get better guidance with exercise and managing symptoms in pregnancy! : Are Burpees Safe in Pregnancy?
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What exercises should not be done during pregnancy?

What Exercises Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy? – There are certain exercises and activities that can be harmful if performed during pregnancy. Avoid:

Holding your breath during any activityActivities where falling is likely (such as skiing and horseback riding)Contact sports such as softball, football, basketball and volleyballAny exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma, including activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in directionActivities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, or bouncingDeep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises and straight-leg toe touchesBouncing while stretching Exercises that require lying on your back for more than three minutes. (especially after your third month of pregnancy)Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activityExercise in hot, humid weatherScuba diving

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How can I strengthen my abs and pelvis during pregnancy?

Slow squeeze pelvic floor exercises – This exercise helps to support your pelvic organs through your pregnancy. It might be tricky at first to hold this squeeze for a long time. Try to build up the length of the hold and release the squeeze slowly.

Lift your pelvic floor muscles upwards and inwards, slowly tightening them. Continue lifting from your pelvis up into your belly. Hold for four seconds and release it slowly. If it’s difficult to hold the squeeze for this long and you have nothing left to release, hold for a shorter time to begin with. Don’t worry, you can increase the hold length bit by bit until you manage a four second hold. Try to keep some of the squeeze left to release so you can release it slowly when you finish the exercise. Do five squeezes at a time Repeat this five times a day. It will get easier. (Tommy’s, 2017)

This page was last reviewed in October 2017.
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Can I do hip thrusts while pregnant?

Hip thrusts are arguably one of the best glute activation exercises you can do. They’re great for any level of exercise experience too, making pregnancy a great time to start working on them even if you’ve never done them before.
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Can I keep doing CrossFit while pregnant?

I often get questions about pregnant mothers wanting to workout. Can they continue their pre-pregnancy routine? Is CrossFit safe during pregnancy? The truth is, as long as a woman is under the guidance of her healthcare provider, it really is OK for her to continue with her pre-pregnancy workout – even CrossFit.

However, it’s important to note not all moms can continue with the same workout routine they were doing prior to pregnancy. Many of them want to, but their body may not allow it. Runners sometimes have to become power walkers and CrossFit athletes usually have to scale back their workouts quite a bit.

For some moms, walking is about the only cardiovascular activity their body will allow, and that’s OK! It’s important for expectant moms to listen to their bodies. If it seems like you’re pushing too hard, it might be time to scale back the workout routine.

  1. CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program with the aim of improving muscular strength, cardio-respiratory endurance and flexibility.
  2. The “workout of the day” (or WOD) is typically intensity-based.
  3. This fitness regimen isn’t suitable for every pregnant woman and certainly not for beginners.
  4. But, for someone who has spent several years doing this type of workout, it is acceptable.

Exercise is encouraged during pregnancy because there are many health benefits to both the mother and her baby. The healthier and more physically fit a mom is, the easier her pregnancy and possibly her labor will be. Exercise also helps reduce a woman’s risk of diabetes and hypertension that can develop during pregnancy.

For the baby, some of the benefits include a healthy birth weight and better oxygenation because the mother’s blood vessels are actually enriched during exercise. The key to a safe pregnancy workout routine is to listen to your body and only do what your body will allow. And, if you continue with your CrossFit routine or similar workout, a workout buddy is important, since a lack of balance during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of accidents.

I urge all expectant moms to focus on a healthy exercise program during their pregnancy, whether it’s walking, yoga or something more vigorous, as long as she and her healthcare provider are working together.
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Can I roll my back out while pregnant?

Anything else to bear in mind? – Don’t forget to breathe! Deep slow breaths will help relax your body. Many women, and using recovery training as part of this routine will help your muscles to recover easier and quicker. We’d recommend sticking to the lower body when using a foam roller whilst pregnant, avoiding the back or anywhere near the bump. Always consult your midwife or GP before undertaking any recovery training.
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Does pregnancy weaken core muscles?

What happens to abdominal muscles during pregnancy and birth? – During pregnancy, the growing baby stretches the abdominal muscles. The mother’s abdomen changes shape during the pregnancy because of the growth and movement of the baby, and so her abdominal muscles are also affected.
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Can you strengthen muscles while pregnant?

With your healthcare provider’s okay and guidance from a fitness pro, weight lifting is a great pregnancy exercise and strength-training practice. Lifting weights while pregnant can strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, increase your stamina for labor and delivery, and even boost your mood.

Before starting any new pregnancy weight lifting routine, check with your doctor: Women who are at risk for preeclampsia or have anemia may need to skip the weights. Once you get going, be sure to avoid moves that require you to lie on your back or put pressure on your belly. Weight lifting isn’t just for professional athletes and competitive bodybuilders – moms-to-be can reap its benefits too.

But like other good forms of pregnancy exercise, it’s important that you know how to do it safely. With weight training, you’ll want to follow proper heavy-lifting guidelines for pregnant women. And as your body changes through each trimester, so will your weight lifting routine, which is why working with a fitness trainer is a good idea.
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Does pregnancy weaken core?

Your core muscles are stretched and weakened during pregnancy, which means it’s important to do targeted exercises postpartum to regain your strength and stability. When your provider gives you the all clear, simple movements like tightening your belly button towards your spine, roll ups, and knee folds can help tone this area.
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