Sunday, August 30, 2015

Myth: All pregnant women should avoid overhead exercises

 


This myth of pregnancies past has begun popping up again.  

This concerns me because it makes pregnant women feel afraid to move normally.  


The three most common rationales I read online are (a) the pregnant woman might hold her breath and get dizzy (b) it causes too much intra-abdominal pressure and will therefore cause diastasis recti (abdominal separation) (c) it can cause the umbilical cord to wrap around baby's neck.  Let's look at at all three more closely.

Dizziness
  • Holding your breath while doing overhead exercises could cause dizziness.
  • Doing overhead exercises with a healthy, normal breathing pattern does not cause dizziness.  If it stimulates dizziness, something is else going on and the woman should see her healthcare provider.
  • All women, including pregnant women, benefit from maintaining normal range of motion such as moving ones arms above one's head.
  • All women, including pregnant women, need a strong and stable shoulder girdle in order to avoid injuries and to support every day movements such as putting dishes away in an upper kitchen cupboard.
Take Away: Most pregnant women benefit from many overhead exercises.  They should avoid holding their breath while exercising so they do not become dizzy.

Intra-Abdominal Pressure
  • Some overhead exercises engage the rectus abdominal muscles.  Ex. shoulder press
  • Some overhead exercises do not engage the rectus abdominal muscles.  Ex. tricep Extension
  • Women with diastasis recti should avoid exercises that engage the rectus abdominal muscles because doing so could worsen the abdominal separation.
  • Women without diastasis recti should continue with exercises that engage the rectus abdominal muscles  in order to prevent injury, reduce discomforts and maintain strength.  There is no research that demonstrates doing so will cause a separation.
Take Away: If a woman has diastasis recti, she should avoid exercises that engage the rectus abdominal muscles. If she does not have diastasis recti, then she should continue benefiting from a variety of exercises, including those which engage the rectus abdominal muscles. In either case, she should familiarize herself with the guidelines for exercise during pregnancy.

Remember! There is no research to back up the claim that diastasis recti is preventable.  If we are going to get it, we are going to get it. We only know how to prevent it from getting worse once we have it.  If research shows otherwise, I'll be sure to let our readers know.  

If you are not sure which exercises engage the rectus abdominal muscles, ask us.  We are always happy to help.  info@fit4two.ca 

Umbilical Cord Dangers 
  • There is zero, no, nil research connecting a pregnant woman moving her hands above her hard and her umbilical cord wrapping around her babies neck.  None. Nada.

Take Away: Pregnant women can dance to YMCA without putting their baby in danger.
 

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