Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pregnancy & Exercise Myths Debunked

Myth: Pregnant women should only exercise in their second trimester.
Fact: The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) states, “We can encourage women with uncomplicated pregnancies in any trimester to begin an exercise routine.” (2003). They also state that “Women and their care providers should consider the risks of NOT participating in exercise activities during pregnancy, including loss of muscular and cardiovascular fitness, excessive maternal weight gain, higher risk of gestational diabetes or pregnancy induced hypertension, development of varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis, a higher incidence of physical complaints such as dyspnea or lower back pain, and poor psychological adjustment to the physical changes of pregnancy.”  (2003)

Myth: Previously Sedentary women should not exercise during pregnancy.
Fact: “In uncomplicated pregnancies, women with or without a previously sedentary lifestyle should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises as a part of a healthy lifestyle.”  (SOGC/CSEP, 2003)

Myth: Pregnant women should not do core exercises.
Fact: The benefits of a strong, functional core during pregnancy include: less lower back & pelvis pain, prevention of urinary incontinence, less incidence of uterine ligament pain, prevention of musculoskeletal injuries, assistance with pushing stage of labour; less perineal tearing, less need for episiotomies, less incidence of prolapsed internal organs during birth and muscle memory for postnatal rehabilitation.  Women 16+ weeks pregnant should avoid exercising flat on their backs.   Women with abdominal separation should read this article before beginning or continuing core exercises.

If you are finding it difficult to stay motivated and disciplined with your pelvic floor exercises, try the Fit 4 Two-approved Pelvic Floor Trainer App which provides both visual and audio routines at your fingertips! 

Myth: Women with strong core muscles have difficult births.
Fact: Toned pelvic floor muscles are more elastic, allowing for a wider passage for birth.  This often means less tearing, less episiotomies and less incidence of prolapsed internal organs during birth.  It is postulated that if a woman comes from a sport such as dance, gymnastics, horseback riding etc., where she was required to engage her deep core muscles continuously for several years, she may have trouble relaxing her deep and superficial core muscles during labour and delivery.   In other words, the difficulty is not related to the strength of her core but to her inability to relax.  Women who fall into this category should focus on both the relaxation and the contraction of the pelvic floor. 5 Minute Pelvic Floor Routine.

Myth: Pregnant women cannot run
Fact: If a woman ran regularly before she became pregnant, and she is following the national guidelines for cardio F.I.T.T., she can continue to run. If and when running ceases to feel good, she should choose an alternative low impact cardiovascular exercise like walking or swimming.

Myth: Pregnant women should continue exercising as they did before they became pregnant.
Fact: While it is advised to continue doing what one is used to doing, there are still guidelines to follow.  If a woman’s exercise frequency, intensity, time or type goes beyond the SOGC/CSEP guidelines, she should modify her program to fit within them. 


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