Using a Swiss Ball During Pregnancy

Many women are excited about being able to continue exercising through their pregnancy and begin again quickly afterward. Exercise is a wonderful way to improve cardiovascular fitness, increase strength and endurance during delivery and improve strength after delivery to care for the new baby.

There are several options for exercise during pregnancy but one that seems to be very popular is the Swiss ball or physio ball.
This is a large beach ball looking piece of equipment that is large enough for someone to sit on.

Old beliefs were that women shouldn’t exercise through their pregnancies but should instead sit on the couch with their feet up, relaxing. Today many women are grateful to continue exercising.

There are days when exercising may be the last thing on your mind but it is the best thing for both you and the baby.

Safety First

Before starting any exercise program, even one as gentle as the physio ball exercises either during or after pregnancy, should be cleared with your doctor. Although there are many good reasons to exercise during pregnancy there are also other times when exercises may be contraindicated to the health of you and your baby. Be sure you have all the answers before you start a program.

Benefits

Exercise trainers are quick to point out that the swiss ball is great for increasing core stability and strength which essentially means that the ball increasing strength in the abdominal muscles, back and oblique muscles.

These are the muscles that hold you up straighter, make you appear toned and athletic and are needed during delivery.

These balls are relatively cheap and are an easy accessory to keep in your home.

The physio ball exercises during and after pregnancy should follow other standard criteria for exercising during pregnancy. First, you should clear all exercise programs and protocols with your doctor.

While exercising during pregnancy is usually a very good idea to increase strength and endurance so necessary during labor and delivery, there are some situations in which pregnant women shouldn’t exercise. Your doctor would be the one to tell you what’s best for your situation.

Secondly, you should never start an intense exercise program after you become pregnant. For the most part it’s best to have started a program before becoming pregnant but women are able to start a program through to their second trimester as long as the exercises are gentle and the intensity stays low.

Even at a low intensity women will increase strength and endurance of specific muscles needed both during delivery and after the little is born.

Pelvic Pain

Physio ball exercises will help women who experience significant pelvic pain as the weight of the baby presses down on the stretched ligaments. There are a couple of specific exercises that will help to alleviate pain and relieve back discomfort.

In one rather undignified pose the woman should get down on hands and knees hugging the ball and resting the weight of the upper body across the ball. She can rock back and forth if desired. This will help to alleviate the pain in the pelvic region.

Bridging exercises with the physio ball exercises during and after pregnancy can help to relieve back pain and strengthen the torso and hip flexors.

Some women find it more comfortable to use the ball in place of a chair or bench while sitting during normal activities. The ball provides cushioning support for the increasing weight and the instability will help with torso mobility and strength in a gentle fashion.

Swiss ball exercises during and after pregnancy can be used to modify other more common exercises such as squats. Using the ball and placing it between you and the wall, then rolling down the wall with it to a squatting position will help support your back while working your legs.

Other women will find some pain relief sitting on the ball during contractions.

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