Most women choose to stop running at some point during their pregnancy. Whilst this can be disappointing and difficult for a lot of women, it is a great opportunity to work on some weaknesses.
A solid exercise program will keep pregnant mums strong and address deficits to position them to return to running quickly and injury-free postnatally.
So, what kind of exercises should they be doing? On top of general cardio cross-training which can include things like walking, swimming and elliptical training, exercise programs should include exercises that focus on lower limb strength and lumbopelvic stability.
These are my top five exercises for pregnant mums:
1. Side-lying hip abduction for glute medius strengthening and pelvic stability
Concentrate on keeping your pelvis still and slightly forward as you lift your top leg. Try for 3 x 10 reps with a one second hold at the top.
2. Banded toe tap for more advanced and running specific glute activation, excellent for improving pelvic stability
With a band above your knees come in to your normal half squat position, transfer weight to one side and tap to the opposite side while maintaining depth and stability. Your supporting shin should stay almost vertical. Repeat 3 x 10/side.
3. Calf raises (Did you know 6-8 times your bodyweight is loaded through your calf with every step when your run?! Your calves need to be STRONG!)
Single leg calf raises should be done with a weight that is challenging for 3 sets of 6-8 reps. Drive up all the way onto your toe.
4. Squats for general glute strength
Start standing, break from your hips and stick your bottom back as you lower. Use a band to cue your glutes and drive out. You can use a weight in a goblet position to increase difficulty. Aim for 3 x 8.
5. Kettlebell deadlift for activation of your posterior chain
With a slight bend in your knees and a straight back pick up the kettlebell and use your glutes to drive up to a standing position, keeping the weight close. Aim for 3 x 8.
Performed 3-5 times a week these exercises will help develop hip control and strength, which will in turn form a great base for you to return to running postnatally. Give them a go!
Madison is a Physiotherapist passionate about helping mums understand their bodies, move efficiently and return to running and exercise safely. You can find her at iMove Physio.