You think leg day is tough? Try growing a human
Growing a human is tough physical work.
The abdominal muscles of the mum-to-be can increase in length and width by as much as 50 per cent. The hip flexors and back extensors shorten, and rib dimensions can increase by up to 2cm, changing how effectively the abdominal muscles work. Gastrointestinal changes can cause nausea, gastric reflux and constipation; core body temperature and resting heart rate both increase; blood volume can increase by up to 50 per cent but venous return is reduced, combining to contribute to leg cramps and added strain on the calf muscles. Centre of gravity changes, affecting balance, posture and coordination, and weight gain of 10-12kg (at least!) can be expected. It’s been reported that as many as 80 per cent of women in pregnancy experience back or posterior pelvic pain.*
With this melting pot of physical changes, it’s clear that the exercising mum-to-be needs her fitness professional to understand how best to help her. Avoiding unnecessary pain is a great place to start!
A simple wall posture check can provide you with an easy baseline measurement that can help your client avoid a large lumbar curve occurring during pregnancy, and assist their return to good postural alignment after the birth of their baby.
Wall posture check
- Have your client stand with their back to a wall, ensuring that their upper back and glutes are in contact.
- Stand side on to your client and slide your hand into the space behind their lumbar spine, keeping your palm parallel to the floor.
- However many fingers you can fit side by side between your client’s lumbar spine and the wall becomes your reference point for future measurements.
- Have your client place their own hand in the space so that they can understand how you have assessed them.
- Now that you’ve got your baseline, it’s important to regularly re-check your client’s posture.
Check out Dianne Edmonds’ Ante Natal Core Training course to learn more about giving your pregnant clients the best fitness advice and care possible. Approved for 5 CECs with Fitness Australia and 5 CPD points with REPS NZ.
*Ostgaard HC, Zetherstrom G, Roos-Hansson E, Svanberg B. Reduction of back and posterior pelvic pain in pregnancy. Spine. 1994; 19:894-900.