Becoming a mum is an exciting, life changing experience. There are so many new, foreign things happening and adjustments being made that physical changes can sometimes be overlooked and put in the ‘I will deal with that when I have time’ basket (mmmm when does that time come?).
We all know that the human body goes through some dramatic changes during pregnancy, some we can see and others we cannot. Postural changes, such as increased curvature of the spine, are inevitable as the human body accommodates a larger belly. Also, joints and ligaments become loose due to the hormone ‘relaxin’, this creates more space in and around the pelvis, however, also impacts the whole body. Let’s face it, baby never gets any lighter, so with all the lifting, carrying and sitting in strange positions to accommodate a child who is finally sleeping, our bodies can develop patterns of movement that are not ideal and cause joint pain and muscle inflammation.
With so many changes in routine with new bub coming along, it is natural to prioritise everyone else’s wellbeing over our own ‘recovery’. Consequently, mother’s often experience ongoing pain and other issues that are never completely resolved. This can lead to long term back, neck, shoulder and other joint pain and muscle soreness.
Correctly exercising the body is the key to regaining alignment, mobility and core strength. Incorrectly exercising can exacerbate issues and lead to those long-term chronic impacts. One ideal form of exercise is reformer Pilates under the supervision of well-trained instructors. The key focus of Pilates is to strengthen the core muscles that support the spine, in particular the Transversus Abdominus (think, baby bump) and the Obliques (think, tapered waistline) as well as strengthening the Pelvic Floor (!). The Transversus Abdominus and Obliques are large core muscles that wrap around the body connecting the spine, ribs and pelvis. Pilates also strengthens the gluteal muscles that provide stability to the lower back, pelvis and knees. While also strengthening the muscles of the arms, legs and torso, reformer Pilates is resistance training, the equivalent of going to the gym and lifting weights!
We chat to Joanne Thiele, Instructor and Owner Studio Pilates SA about Pilates and the benefits pre and post pregnancy:
– Is Pilates like yoga? What is the difference?
Pilates and yoga are similar in a number of ways, both seek to unite the mind and body bringing strength and flexibility to the muscles and joints. The key difference with reformer Pilates is the focus on building lean muscle through the use of the machine to provide resistance and also to align the body. Pilates focuses on pelvic and spinal alignment, which in turn improves posture and can alleviate aches and pains brought on by our daily lives – sitting at computers, driving etc.
– How is Pilates different from lifting weights for strength training?
Pilates develops the deep muscles of the back and abdomen to support your spine, and focuses on breathing to promote better posture. The reformer helps to maintain very specific positions to target specific muscles. In the gym it’s easy for bigger, stronger muscles to take over whereas with reformer Pilates, your instructor can help you get an all over body workout, working both sides of the body equally while also balancing muscles through the front and back of the body.
Pilates does not focus on ‘bulking’ up the muscle but rather building long lean muscles that are strong and flexible.
Reformer Pilates classes are usually around 40 minutes, which means a quick, effective, targeted workout on one machine. You don’t need to wait for different equipment or work out what exercises to be doing to get a great all-over-body workout.
– How many days a week should I do Pilates?
If you can only do Pilates once a week this is better than nothing, however, if you are able to do Pilates 3 to 5 times per week you will experience the rapid transformational power of the movements building and maintaining strength and flexibility very quickly. This will also depend on what other physical exercise or work you are doing. Pilates is very complementary to other activities helping to bring balance back to the body used to working some muscles more than others (golf, tennis, cycling, running etc.)
– Can I do pilates whilst I am pregnant?
Yes, maintaining strength during pregnancy will not hurt mother or baby; however, there are some muscles that we recommend should not be strengthened / challenged during pregnancy such as the inner thighs and some abdominals such as the rectus abdominis. There are many others that can be continued to be strengthened, especially the glutes (to maintain pelvis stability and avoid back pain) and upper body strength (to aid in all the lifting and carrying that will be required when baby comes along). Pregnancy can also limit some positions such as lying on your front and back. The reformer provides an extensive number of exercises that can be continued up to full term.
One of the great benefits of Pilates is how it can help with spinal and pelvic alignment. This is particularly beneficial for pregnant women and women who have just given birth, as the physical changes that come with pregnancy can put a strain on your alignment.
During pregnancy, Pilates can help to maintain your level of fitness, strengthen your pelvic muscles and also promote efficient body mechanics. These are ideal as your body prepares for the strain of childbirth, the strengthened pelvic floor will also make it easier for mothers-to-be to give birth.
And after the pregnancy, Pilates can help you to recover and return to your pre-pregnancy body.
– How quickly will i see results from Pilates?
We offer an introductory pack of classes that involves 6 classes over a 2 week period, this frequency and time period is enough to experience a difference. Clients report feeling a difference after only 1, 2 or 3 classes. This is due to working muscles that they may not have used in a while! Waking up the core muscles, the powerhouse of the body, improving posture, breathing and creating a general feeling of wellness.
In the words of Joseph Pilates around 100 years ago, “You will feel better in ten sessions, look better in twenty sessions, and have a completely new body in thirty sessions.”
– What should I expect when I first start Pilates?
Expect Pilates to be harder than you anticipate, you will discover muscles that you may not have used for some time and you should expect to feel a little sore afterwards. You should expect to feel well supported by your instructor and encouraged to work at your own pace. Pilates is a skill-based exercise regime and you will learn a little more each time which will help you to improve and get results.
– Are all classes the same?
No, each reformer Pilates class will always target core muscles and also give you an all-over-body workout targeting different muscle groups. For example, at Studio Pilates we have 50 workouts, a different one each day, scientifically formulated by our team of physiotherapists to challenge the body to become stronger and more flexible.
STUDIO PILATES NORWOOD | P 8431 7005
STUDIO PILATES ADELAIDE CITY | P 8231 4995
STUDIO PILATES HENLEY BEACH | P 8355 1049