Many women are aware that exercise during pregnancy is right for them, as it can help them go through this journey stronger, confident and help ease pregnancy-related musculoskeletal complaints like low back pain, knee pain, upper back pain etc.
Here are some simple exercises which can help strengthen your muscles which are easy and can be done in your work station, travelling on your way to the office by cab, train, bus or aeroplane, while running behind your elder toddler or even while cooking.
Walking: When you are advised by your healthcare provider that you need to start walking for 30-40mins every day, but you can’t make it happen due to your busy schedule. A straightforward solution, break the duration of your walking . Eg. Post breakfast or Post morning Snacks - 10min, Post lunch - 15 mins, Post evening snacks - 10 mins or Post dinner - 10-15 mins. Walking is considered one of the best low impact cardiovascular workouts during pregnancy. It helps strengthen and tone your muscles. During pregnancy gaining weight is normal, but walking helps, you maintain a healthy weight gain pattern.
You can make your walking little challenging, hold 200ml - 500ml water bottle or Dumbell on both hands and walk. Not only you are doing low impact cardio with the strengthening of your lower limbs, but you are strengthening your shoulder and hand as well.
Deep abdominal breathing can be done when you are stressed, sitting in the office, sitting on the bed or sofa. You can place one hand on your lower ribs and one hand on your belly for feedback. Breathe in from your nose gently and try to feel your lower rib-cage moving on the side and your belly moving outward. Slowly breath out through your mouth like you are blowing a candle. Deep abdominal breathing activates core muscle, diaphragm, and relieves your stress.
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As you are progressing in your pregnancy, knee and ankle need to support your growing belly. Strengthening your thigh muscles is essential.
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Sit down in a chair with legs well rested on the floor and legs apart. Raise one leg to 90 degrees and hold for 10-20 seconds. You will feel the front of your thighs becoming tighter, helps strengthen the front of your thigh. This simple exercise can be done daily, five repetitions of each leg.
Stand and bring your legs apart wide, raise your heel like you are reaching out something which is on an overhead cupboard and brings your heel down: repeat 5-10 reps. You can progress with raising your heel and holding the raise for 5 secs. This simple movement strengthens your two main muscles of your calf and improves ankle stability. You can do this even when you are waiting for the milk to boil when you are waiting for the elevator, but do make sure that you are taking the support of either counter, wall etc.
Strengthening your shoulder muscles can help you prevent from having upper back pain and improving your posture to confidently holding your bundle of joy after delivery. As you slowly gain weight, your chest becomes heavier, and you tend to move your shoulder forward, which leads to a rounded shoulder.
Sit in a stool with both legs wide apart and firm on the ground, if standing feet should be shoulder wide for a better base. You can fill in a 500ml water bottle if weights are not available.
Hold both 500ml filled water bottles on both hands, palm facing front. Flex your hand towards your shoulder, do not bend your wrist as that can overstretch your wrist joint.
Side raise 90 degrees: Hands-on the side palm facing your body, elbow soft raise your shoulder 90 degrees on the side and bring it back to the starting position. Make sure your angle is soft when you grow your shoulder. When you want to progress, you can add a side raise 90 degree with rotation. Raise your hand to 90 degrees, elbow soft, and make a circle clockwise
Hands-on the side, palm facing back elbow soft. Raise your hands to 90 degrees forward / front.
Lean your body forward, back straight 70-80 degrees. Hands forward, palm facing each other, elbow soft. Bring your hands back like a bird flapping its wings.After weight exercise perform a wrap up/cool down with stretching of the particular muscle.
Eg. Bicep curl - Bicep stretching, hold the stretch for 10-20 secs and make sure that you are not overstretching. You can even progress weights exercise by sitting in an exercise ball, not only will strengthen your hands and shoulder. It helps activate your core muscles, improve posture and improve your balance.
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Sitting spine stretch is a sitting version of spine stretch on hands and knees position. Sit in a chair, feet shoulder apart and firm on the ground, legs wide to give space to your growing belly and sit straight. Bring your spine backward like you are drawing a concave in your spine, then bring your spine forward like someone is pulling your upper abdomen forward with a thread. You can do this when you are sitting for a long time at your workstation, travelling a long distance in a car, bus or flight.
Half squat should be done in the right way as it strains your knees if you do it in the wrong way. Squats are one good exercise to strengthen your glutes and lower back and gives you good endurance.
Stand one feet distance to a chair, legs wide. Bring your lower back backwards and down towards the chair. Touch the tip of the chair with your glutes muscle and slowly lift your hip from glutes and come to the starting position. When you do half squat, make sure your knees are not crossing your toes
The above exercises are essential if you wish to start or want an exercise regime, and your primary health care provider has given you a green signal to start. Please contact your Physiotherapist as they can guide you and plan the exercises according to your fitness level and personalize an exercise regimen for you.
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