Pilates Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy

If in good health, women who are pregnant can usually exercise through their third trimester. Pilates is often one of the recommended forms of exercise and is known for its gentle yet effective movement and its ability to improve posture and reduce stress and pains. However, not all Pilates exercises are appropriate during pregnancy. Exercises that are done on your back or stomach may cause discomfort or potentially cause injuries to your body. If you are attending a Pilates class or working with a Pilates instructor, make sure she is educated on pre-natal poses.

Pregnant women in a pilates class.
Credit: vadimguzhva/iStock/Getty Images

Supine Exercises

The rectus abdominus, or the six-pack, tends to separate during pregnancy. Therefore, it is important for pregnant women to prevent any further damage to this area of their abdomen. Many Pilates exercises that contract the rectus abdominus should be avoided, according to Pilates Pro. These include exercises where you are lying on your back, such as the double leg stretch. This and other similar exercises require that you lie on your back and bring your knees and head together over your chest. Then, while pulling your abs in to your back, extend your legs out in front of you and your arms over your head. You then use your abdominals to circle back around to the starting position.

Lying Face Down

Pilates exercises that require you to lie on your stomach or engage in some form of face-down plank positions are not recommended for women who are pregnant, as lying on their stomach is not an optimal position. These include exercises such as the X, which requires you to lie on your stomach and extend your arms and legs, as if you are forming an X with your body. As you inhale, lift your arms and legs up. As you exhale, bring your elbows back towards your waist while you simultaneously bring your legs together. It is better for pregnant women to modify these poses by lying on their side and performing a similar movement, one side at a time.

Deep Stretching

While gentle stretching can be soothing and relaxing during pregnancy, deep stretching may cause injuries and should be avoided, according to Everything About Pilates. This includes the common Pilates hamstring stretch, which is executed while lying on your back and bringing one leg perpendicular to your body. You would then take hold of your foot, shin or hamstring to pull your leg further towards your chest. Instead, sit upright on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you. Wrap a Pilates or yoga strap around the sole of your foot and very gently pull on the strap until you feel a comfortable stretch in your hamstring.

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