PT on the Net Research

Pregnancy Trimesters and Exercise


QUESTION:

Could you offer some advice for training and/or specific exercises for a pregnant client in her first, second and third trimester?

ANSWER:

Thanks for your question! We hope the following information will assist you with your client.

Universally, it has been shown that pregnant women enjoy and benefit tremendously from exercise programs. However, like any exercise program, it is critical to perform a complete functional assessment prior to following any guideline. We will list common postural imbalances, probable causes to the imbalances and solutions to assist you in individualizing your client's program.

Common Imbalances and Solutions

Postural Fault Probable Cause Stretch Exercise Strengthen Exercise
Excessive lumbar curve with an anterior tilted pelvis The gradual increase in size and weight causes an upward and forward shift in the center of gravity, leading to an anteriorly tilted pelvis.
  • Hip flexor stretch
  • Adductor
  • Incline ball posterior tilts
  • Tensor fascia latae-ITB Stick Massage
  • Quadruped Opposite Arm Reach
  • Tubing Squat
  • Multi planar lunge
Increase thoracic curvature Due to the shift in center of gravity (causing increased lordosis), a compensatory thoracic kyphosis may develop. Enlarged breasts also contribute to this imbalance.
  • Pectoral stretch
  • Wall squat with 6" or 4” foam roll – raise arms to increase thoracic mobility
  • Chin tuck stretch
  • Squat or lunge and row with one arm
  • Quadruped Opposite Arm Reach
  • Deep breathing exercises
Scapula excessively abducted The average pregnant woman will gain 500mg of weight in each breast. The weight gain will tend to pull the shoulders forward while possibly increasing thoracic curvature.
  • Pectoral stretch
  • Squat or lunge and row with one arm
Excessive forward head posture An increase in the thoracic curve and breast enlargement force the head forward and upward, increasing the cervical spine curvature as the eyes attempt to maintain a horizontal level (optical righting reflex).
Over pronated feet Along with weight gain, pelvic malalignments and changes in hormones contributing to joint laxity; subsequent hypermobility may lead to fallen arches.
  • Standing calve stretch
  • Squatting, stepping or lunging with optimal subtalar joint positioning.

Please use the above table as a guide to help identify common postural imbalances and improve function. However, by no means is this table diagnostic or the end all. In fact, at our studio, we are very progressive with our prenatal clients. We perform an entire functional exam and progress through the entire pregnancy with the following guidelines in mind.

Guidelines:

Conclusion

While it has been shown pregnant women benefit from exercise programs, it is the individual application that yields the greatest results. By following an integrated systematic assessment and program design methodology, you can make much greater inroads in your client's success. Please realize no one strategy in singularly superior. Prenatal programs should include a variety of methods and must be designed with consideration of the clients goals, wants, needs, abilities, necessary guidelines and any special consideration given by the physician.