Living Wellness

Third Trimester Pilates at Home

Bianca Oppel at Mint Pilates demonstrates easy third trimester pilates moves to do in the comfort of your own home. Clothing by Maaji.

∇  Four point kneeling on forearms:

Set up: Set yourself up on your knees and elbows. Check that your knees are as close as comfortable towards each other and that your elbows are directly under your shoulders.

Action: Take a few breaths to get comfortable in this position and enjoy the pressure off your spine. When you are ready inhale to drop your chest towards the ground allowing the shoulder blades to glide together and then exhale to press through your forearms to press the shoulder blades apart. Repeat this 6-8 times.

Check points: Aim to keep your chest above your elbows and to press through your forearms. Avoid tensing up in the neck and shoulders and aim to engage between your shoulder blades and underneath your armpits.

Benefits include: Decompressing your spine. Positioning yourself horizontally to the ground is a great way to take pressure off of your spinal and pelvic joints. Setting yourself up on your forearms will take the pressure off of wrists. During pregnancy you may experience some pain in your wrists, this is most likely due to your ligament laxity affecting the stability so be careful carrying heavy weights and spending a long period of time on your hands and knees and or working on your laptop.

Strengthening of your upper back and arms.

∇  Hip extension on all fours &Hip and Spinal extension on all fours:

Set up: Set yourself up on your knees and elbows. Check that your knees are as close as comfortable towards each other and that your elbows are directly under your shoulders.

∇  Part 1 Action: Inhale to prepare your body and on your exhale keeping your knee bent kick your heel towards the ceiling. Only moving as far as you can keep your hips square to the ground. Inhale to lower your knee half way down and then repeat that action up to 10 times.  If need be rest in between when swopping sides.

∇  Check points: Aim to keep your spine as neutral as possible and avoid excessive rotation through the lower back and pelvis. Keep even weight through both forearms and recruit you’re the back of your leg and glutes when performing the action.

∇  Benefits include: Strengthening your hip extensors, which will help you stretch the hip and front of thigh. This is beneficial in maintaining good pelvic and lower back alignment. Promotes upper back and arm strength.

∇  Part 2 Action: Inhale to prepare your body and exhale keeping your knee bent kick your heel towards the ceiling. Only moving as far as you can keep your hips square to the ground. Inhale to extend your neck looking forwards and aim to press your breastbone forwards extending your cervical (neck) and thoracic (upper back) spine. Exhale to return your upper back, neck and head back to the starting position and inhale to return your knee back to the floor. Inhale to prepare your body and exhale to repeat on the other leg adding your upper back extension. Aim for 3 repetitions on each leg.

∇  Benefits include: All the above mentioned benefits as well as promoting thoracic extension. It is important to promote strength and mobility in all your spinal ranges. At this stage of your pregnancy it is not possible to perform exercises in the prone position so this is a great alternative for hip and spinal extension.

∇  Thoracic rotation in a side lying position:

∇  Set up: Set yourself up lying on your side with your knees bent at 90deg and your hips as much as possible (this is largely dependent on the size of your belly). Your hips, knees and ankles should be neatly stacked. At this stage of your pregnancy it is advisable to prop a cushion underneath your tummy. Bend your underneath arm to support your head and reach your top arm forwards in front of your shoulder.

∇  Action: Inhale to reach your top arm towards the ceiling and exhale to reach behind you aiming to rotate your upper back. Let your eyes follow your top hand. Only rotate as far as you can keep your hips square to the front. Breathe in to hold that position and breathe out to return to the starting position. Repeat 3-6 on either side.

∇  Check points: Aim to keep your hips square to the front and keep your ankles, knees and hips neatly stacked. Stick to a comfortable rotation for your spine.

∇  Benefits include: Promotes thoracic rotation and lumber stability. Promotes oblique strength. During your pregnancy it is important to condition your obliques to assist with pelvic and lumber stability. Promotes diaphragmatic strength- At this stage of your pregnancy you may be breathing quite shallowly due to the lack of space in your body. Aim to breathe as deeply as possible to maintain good diaphragm strength.

∇ Hip abduction in a side lying position:

∇  Set up: Set yourself up lying on your side with your knees bent at 90deg and your hips as much as possible (this is largely dependent on the size of your belly). Your hips, knees and ankles should be neatly stacked. At this stage of your pregnancy it is advisable to prop a cushion underneath your tummy. Bend your underneath arm to support your head and or reach it overhead. Your top arm is bent and your hand is placed in front of your chest for support.

∇  Action: When you are set up and comfortable, extend your top leg in line with your spine at hip height. Inhale to raise your leg above hip height and exhale to lower back inline with your hip. Repeat this action 8-10 times before repeating this on the other side. To maintain some flow in your lesson plan do this exercise after your thoracic rotation and then repeat both exercises on the otherside.

∇  Check points: Maintain both hips square to the front. Work with a slight bend in your leg if you feel keeping your leg straight is too challenging. Use your supporting arm to maintain good balance. Avoid doing this exercise if you experience any pain in your pelvis. Stack yourself up with cushions if it will make you more comfortable.

∇  Benefits include: Promotes good hip, oblique and back strength. At this stage of your pregnancy you should aim to keep decompress your joints and focus on good alignment. Lying on your side is also a great way to decompress the spine.

∇  Bouncing squat on a stability ball:

∇  Set up: Start seated on top of your sit bones in the middle of your stability ball. Position your legs wider than hip distance and your knees above your ankles. Reach your arms forward inline with your chest.

∇  Action: Inhale to prepare your body and exhale to lean forward from your hips moving your weight forward into your legs, keep your heels grounded and keep your spine in neutral and upright.  Inhale for a count of 4 or 5 while bouncing lightly on your ball and continue to bounce while exhaling. Continue to bounce for a total of 3 cycles of breathing. Enjoy a brief rest and then repeat 3 sets.

∇  Check points: Check that you keep your bottom touching the ball at all times. Maintain good alignment of your ankles, knees, hips&spine. Move slowly to ensure you’re well aligned. Knees should’nt move pass your toes and aim to press through your heels, keep pressing your knees outwards and hinge your spine forward from your hips and maintain length through your spine.

∇  Benefits include: Promotes good core and strength. This exercise can be quite cardiovascular. During your pregnancy it is important to maintain light cardiovascular health and strength. Increased oxygen intake for you means increased oxygen for your growing baby. Great low impact cardio intensive exercise.

Seated thoracic rotation on a stability ball:

∇  Set up: Start seated on top of your sit bones in the middle of your stability ball. Position your legs wider than hip distance and your knees above your ankles and your arms relaxed relaxed at your sides.

∇  Action: Inhale to prepare and exhale twist towards one side reaching for your knees. Ensure that your head, chest and pelvis stays stacked on top of each other. Maintain your spinal twist and inhale and exhale return to the middle and repeat on the other side. Repeat 3 on each side.

∇  Check points: Avoid over stretching only stick to a comfortable range. Look over your shoulder when rotating and keep your shoulders relaxed.

∇  Benefits include: Promotes spinal rotation and a good stretch around the spine. Sitting on the stability ball is a great way to decompress your spine and pelvis and target deep stabilising muscles around the spine.

Sliding down the wall:

∇  Set up: Place ball against the wall and then lean against the ball with the arch of your back. Ensure that you are standing on a non-slip mat and or that your feet have a good grip with the floor. Walk your feet forward until you are comfortably leaning against the ball. Stand with your legs slightly wider than your hips and turned your legs out from your hips  Arms are relaxed at your sides or you can place them wherever you feel comfortable to.

∇  Action: Inhale prepare and exhale bend your knees outwards keeping weight through your heels. Breathe in to slide back up the wall and repeat 8-10 times.

∇  Check points: When coming out of this position walk your feet back under the pelvis and step away from the ball slowly. During your action avoid dipping the pelvis lower than your knees and direct your sit bones directly down to the ground. At this stage of your pregnancy you wont need to bend down to low to feel the work through the legs so stick to a comfortable range.

∇  Benefits include: Conditions your leg and pelvic floor muscles. Squatting during pregnancy is a great way to promote the right amount of stretch and tone through your pelvic floor. Focuses on good spinal alignment With the right pace and repetitions this can be a great low impact form of cardio.

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