Benefits of Pilates for Pre/Post Natal Women
Benefits of Pilates for Pre/Post Natal Women
PILATES -“The complete coordination of mind, body and spirit”
Pilates has gained quite a following over the last decade with many celebrities including Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge, Will Young, Liz Hurley, Gwyneth Paltrow putting their toned appearance down to this exercise method ; In fact the list is so long, it easier to find one who doesn’t do Pilates!
But what is Pilates?
Joseph Pilates (whom the exercises are named after) designed his exercises in the early part of the 20th century. They quickly became popular with ballet dancers as well as office workers in New York. Pilates is a form of functional fitness, designed to improve the quality of your everyday life. We aim to get the body working as a whole kinetic chain with the body’s systems working in harmony. Strengthening and lengthening the muscles, re-aligning imbalances, stimulating both the nervous system and the lymphatic system too.
There is a strong emphasis on stabilising your body- so waking up your “core” muscles around the abdomen and back, freeing off your shoulders and stabilising your pelvis to help prevent injury.
You can learn the Pilates methods in several different ways-Mat based group classes are very popular and easily accessible in terms of availability and cost.
You could also choose to have private sessions either mat based, or on a range of specially developed Pilates studio equipment such as a reformer. (Think gym equipment but with a Pilates slant!)
There are also many specialist sessions to help with different stages of life from kids to Pregnancy/Post Natal to Older Adults.
Mat-work Pilates consist of 34 basic exercises which have been adapted over the years using the latest in exercise research to make them suitable for group exercise sessions. So there are many options and adaptations which mean you are always working at a comfortable level and can progress at your own pace. This also makes it ideal for cross-training with all your other sports and activities!
During sessions you will be focusing on the vital elements of Pilates which are:
Control, Precision, Flow, Concentration, Centering & Breath.
You will be aiming to flow from one exercise into the next; constantly reinforcing the strength of your “powerhouse” (abdominals, lower back, buttock and inner thigh).You will only be required to perform a small number of repetitions but with as much precision and control as possible. This is why you hear people talk about the “mind body” connection as the focus in your session helps to free up your mind, which can leave you feeling rejuvenated and calm and is particularly helpful in times of stress.
The Benefits of Pilates for Pre/Post Natal Women
Pilates ticks all the boxes for exercise both during Pregnancy and Post-natally. Specialist Pregnancy Pilates sessions are recommended as soon as you know you are Pregnant and certainly from 20 weeks when it is not recommended to lie on your back to exercise so modifications are needed.
Pre/Post Natal Pilates sessions will
- Help you improve your back mobility, avoiding the big arch into your lower back as your baby bump gets bigger (lordosis) and subsequent pain and discomfort this can bring.
- Strengthen the upper back which is important for maintaining your posture as you carry baby in the womb and for feeding baby afterwards not to mention carrying all the “stuff” that seems to come along with baby- car seats, heavy changing bags etc.
- Strengthen the stabilising and mobilising core muscles to help avoid biomechanical imbalances and muscular compensations such as pelvic mal-alignments/rotated pelvis/sacro-illiac joint problems
- Help to stabilise the pelvic girdle against “Pelvic Girdle Pain” or SPD(Symphysis pubic dysfunction)
- Train you towards an active birth- ensuring the big muscles groups in your legs and butt are fit and strong and have the endurance to get you through the birth so you are able to go into any position you choose.
- Train towards optimal foetal positioning by working in all 4’s- with the aim of aligning baby in the best possible way to descend into the birth canal.
- Work on pelvic floor muscles to ensure you can go on a trampoline with your little ones!!
Try this easy chest opener after carrying around the children, sitting breast-feeding or sitting at your desk. It will help to lift the rib cage and allow you to breathe more freely and stretch out the chest muscles; it will help to stop tension building up in your neck and shoulders too.
Sit towards the front of a chair, take a breath in through the nose and try to ignite your pelvic floor muscles. As you take your next inhale lean back and let your arms float up and out to the side of the body, making a large “V” shape as you look up to the ceiling. Enjoy the feeling of your rib cage lifting- think “Heart to sky”. Release and repeat 5 times focusing on long, deep breaths. Enjoy!
“In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 you will see the difference, and in 30 you will have a whole new body” Joseph Pilates
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