Pregnancy and Clinical Pilates: Is it right for you?
Pilates is more popular than ever but if you’re pregnant or you’ve recently given birth, the thought of attending a class can be a little confronting.
You might be concerned about putting too much pressure on your body before you give birth, or in the post-natal stages and you’re often left wondering if it is safe and ok to be exercising.
Renew Physiotherapy’s Mel French has been a physiotherapist for many years and has a passion for pelvic floor physiotherapy and women’s health. Mel has completed her post graduate studies in Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy, with an emphasis on pelvic floor dysfunction and musculoskeletal conditions experienced during pregnancy.
This is complemented by her work at Hawthorn’s Renew Physiotherapy which includes a strong focus on clinical pilates.
Clinical pilates is a form of physical exercise that focuses on posture, core stability, balance, strength, flexibility and breathing, and is guided specifically by a physiotherapist.
Originally developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates, pilates utilises the mind-body connection and challenges the body to work in optimum movement patterns.
It is now accepted as a complementary treatment tool to physiotherapy.
Mel says clinical pilates is a really great form of exercise for clients with pelvic floor concerns because it’s a “low impact and loading form of dynamic exercise, where by exercises can be modified and manipulated to best meet the individual needs of each client”.
“When performed correctly, pilates incorporates good breath control and activation of core, glute and pelvic floor muscles,” Mel says.
“Generally, most people have heard from various sources that clinical pilates is good for pelvic floor muscle training and really embrace the treatment. Clinical pilates can be very beneficial for pregnant women.
“Clinical pilates exercises can be tailored for certain stages throughout pregnancy and can specifically target those muscles that help support the lower back and pelvis during the stages or changes that a woman’s body naturally goes through.”
Mel says some women are nervous about exercising during pregnancy and returning to exercise after giving birth.
“This often coincides with concerns for their abdominal muscles and how they can safely exercise them.
“My biggest concern is that a lot of women return to these types of exercise too early without allowing adequate time for their muscles to recover following the birth, and without specific guidance. Sometimes their body is just not ready to return to running, gym or group fitness classes and this is where professional advice can be vital.”
Mel encourages all women to exercise during pregnancy in some way, shape or form as well as women who are looking to get back into exercise after birth.
“They should seek advice from a pelvic floor or women’s health physio about when to commence exercise and what type of exercise they should be doing. This often involves a pelvic floor and thorough musculoskeletal assessment.
“I suggest all women begin with pelvic floor, and gentle glute and core exercises that are clinical pilates-based exercises when the time is right. They can then progress them from there depending on the specific type of sport or exercise they would like to return to.”