During pregnancy, there should be a focus on exercises like this, which strengthen posterior structures to help compensate for your growth out front.
How to: With resistance tubing at about waist height, stand tall with your knees slightly bent. Holding both handles with palms facing in, step back and extend your arms out in front of you. Inhale with your core breath and, as you exhale, pull the handles to your sides, bringing your elbows behind you; squeeze your shoulder blades. Inhale and return to starting position.
TIP Wrap tubing around a bannister, or exercise with a friend and take turns holding it while you encourage each other!
How to: Sitting tall, place both hands around your side ribs. Imagine that your ribs are like a fan, your torso is an empty canister and there is a blueberry sitting between the front of your pelvis and your tailbone. As you inhale, open “the fan” out to the sides and fill up your ribs and “canister” with air, adjusting your posture (forward and back) until you find the most expansion. As you exhale, close the fan and “pick up the blueberry” with your pelvic floor, keeping your glutes relaxed. Repeat.
TIP: This can be a tricky exercise to master. Start step-by-step, maybe even sticking with the expansive breath before you add the next step.
Strengthening your core during pregnancy is a must: These are the muscles that will help you push your baby out! Along with your pelvic floor, your core muscles need to be trained so you can use them to recover more quickly postpartum.
How to: Sitting tall on a stability ball, place both hands on either side for balance. Leading with your core breath, exhale and lift one foot off the floor and follow with the opposite arm over your head. Hold and breathe for 2 to 3 seconds. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.
This exercise helps strengthen the external oblique muscles that support your growing uterus.
How to: Lying on your side, place one elbow directly under your shoulder for support. Bend both knees, stacking one on top of the other. Keeping the natural curve of your spine, begin with your core breath. Gently squeeze your butt and slowly bring your hips forward until your underside comes off the floor. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing normally. Don’t hold your breath! Repeat on the other side.
TIP Later in pregnancy, your centre of gravity shifts up and forward, so balance and stability are key.
This exercise helps keep your shoulders back and encourages proper posture.
How to: Standing tall with shoulders down and back, place one foot at the centre of exercise tubing, holding both handles. With the palms of your hands resting on the fronts of your thighs, begin with your core breath; bend your elbows and exhale while you lift both hands up towards your nipple line. Be sure to lead with your elbows first and keep your forearms angled towards the floor. Inhale and return your arms to the starting position.
TIP Resist the tendency to lift your hands to your shoulders, which puts a lot of strain on your shoulder joints.