When you first find out you’re pregnant, it can be easy to freak out. And feel like every little move you make could harm your growing baby. But you can relax! You can do so many of the same activities your non-baby-growing self did, you just have to be a little careful with a few things. Today, Burr Leonard, fitness expert and founder of The Bar Method weighs in on some exercises to avoid during pregnancy.
Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy
Exercising when you’re pregnant benefits both you and your baby. Working out regularly improves circulation, helps regulate your internal organs, strengthens your muscles to better carry added weight, stabilizes your joints and boosts your mood. “It goes without saying that you first need to choose an exercise program that is safe and appropriate for your stage of pregnancy,” says Leonard, fitness expert and founder of The Bar Method. “Doctors consider 20 weeks a good point at which to start modifying your exercise routine to better accommodate your growing belly and heightened metabolism.”
Leonard cautions against aerobic exercise that goes on longer than a half-hour, but we recommend talking to your doctor if you’re a cardio junkie. Take breaks as needed, stop for water and be aware of overheating. Leonard also says that high-impact sports like running, for example, can shift your baby so that it sits lower in your belly, which can make the last months of your pregnancy uncomfortable. But if you’re a runner, check with your doctor, as many will say it’s perfectly safe to keep hitting the pavement. If you find yourself in pain, though, it may be time to slow your stride.
Your ligaments, which act to stabilize your joints, loosen during pregnancy, and over-stretching can destabilize them further. What’s more, the center of your body, which is housing your baby, no longer possesses much range of motion. Accept this state of affairs, and wait until post-baby to resume twisting yourself into knots.
When you do exercise, substitute other stretches for the following ones:
1. Spinal twists. Instead, do a “straddle” stretch (sitting on the floor and extending your legs outwards) with straight or bent legs in a diamond shape.
2. Splits. Skip splits altogether during the latter months of your pregnancy. Your loosening ligaments make this stretch hazardous for the joints in your pelvis. Stick with the “hamstring stretch position,” kneeling on one knee with your other leg stretched on the floor in front of you, then folding forward at your hips.
3. Cobra. Substitute a “cat stretch,” coming onto your hands and knees in a crawling position, then rounding your back and returning it to neutral (don’t arch in this position).
Did you find you had to modify exercise during pregnancy or were you able to maintain your workouts? —Erin