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Stability Ball Exercises for Pregnant Women

by
author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Stability Ball Exercises for Pregnant Women
An exercise ball can help expecting moms take pressure of their joints. Photo Credit ball exercises image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com

Overview

A stability or exercise ball is a lightweight, strong plastic ball used to perform exercises with. Use of an exercise ball is well-suited for pregnant women because the ball can provide support in the back and buttocks -- where pregnant women experience pregnancy-related strain. To begin, select a stability ball that allows your knees to sit at a 90-degree angle while seated. This ensures that your ball is at the proper height for exercise.

Ab Crunch

A common misconception is that pregnant women cannot perform abdominal exercises, according to Fit Pregnancy. The stability ball enables you to perform the exercise because it supports your back while working the abdominal muscles.

Begin by sitting up straight on the ball with your legs and feet at a 90-degree angle. Slowly walk your feet outward, leaning back onto the ball until your lower back sits comfortably on the ball. Lace your fingers behind your head and slowly crunch upward. If your stomach feels unstable while performing the exercise, wrap a towel around it for further support. Perform eight to 10 repetitions and two to three sets. As you resume the upright position, walk your feet back up -- do not attempt to stand back up from the crunch position, because your baby bump could put your balance off kilter.

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Squat

The stability ball lives up to its name during this exercise because the ball helps support your belly as you lower to the ground. While the typical stability ball squat involves placing the ball on your back, a pregnancy stability ball squat involves holding the ball to your stomach.

With your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart and the ball held in front of your belly, slowly bend your knees to lower to the ground. As you get closer to the floor, lower the ball to the ground and use your hands on the ball to support you as your sink further. Push on the ball and your buttocks muscles to rise up, leaving the ball on the ground. You can either squat again to pick the ball up or pick the ball up and repeat the same exercise. Repeat eight to 10 times for two to three sets, depending on your skill level.

Side Bends

This exercise works your oblique muscles, which wrap around either side of your abdomen. This exercise helps stretch these muscles, which may be sore or painful during pregnancy.

Begin by sitting upright on the stability ball. Tuck your pelvis under as much as possible to make a straight line with your back--this may be difficult, depending on the month of your pregnancy. Extend your arms up to the ceiling and lace your fingers together. Lean to one side as far as you comfortably are able, making a c-curve with your side while inhaling. Exhale to return to your starting position and repeat two to four times on each side for two sets.

Cautions

Check with your health-care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while. Ask your doctor if stability ball exercises are safe for you at whichever stage of pregnancy you're in.

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References

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