If you are expecting a baby, you must have heard it a lot of times: pay special attention to rest, do pregnancy exercises, rest as much as possible, try to avoid both physical and emotional fatigue. But being pregnant does not mean you have to turn into a couch potato! Moderate physical activity is very good both for you and your future baby.
You can do fitball exercises both during pregnancy and after your baby is born. Keep yourself fit, happy and full of energy (and you will definitely need that while your baby is growing).
So what is a fitball?
Well (no surprise here) it’s basically a ball. It’s not your usual ball, though: fitballs are big and usually brightly colored and are made from special anti-burst rubber material that prevents them from deflating and bursting no matter how intense your workout is. Other names for a fitball are a Swiss Ball (because it comes from Switzerland) or a stability ball.
What do fitballs make so special when it comes to pregnancy?
Exercise balls are great because they help you relax and take your tension away. They unload your spine and strengthen all the muscles you will definitely need to be strong during childbirth: abs, thighs and crotch. By the way, strong muscles don’t only mean easier labor; it also means that your body will recover more quickly afterwards.
Features of fitball workouts during pregnancy
It’s better to start your stability ball workouts on 12th to 14th weeks of pregnancy. The chance of miscarriage during this period is significantly decreased in comparisons to the earlier weeks. But if you just can’t wait to start your workouts, do exercises for thighs and shoulder muscles. Leave abs exercises for later (second trimester).
This pregnancy period is rightfully considered to be the best time for physical activity. Starting from 16th to 18th week of pregnancy it’s recommended to wear pregnancy bandage while exercising. Second trimester is when your womb grows significantly bigger, and the bandage helps to lessen load on your spine and belly muscles.
As the happy day draws closer and closer still, you’ll notice that it’s hard to do even the easiest exercises. That’s when your fitball will help you out. Stability ball exercises are easy, simple and you can do them even during later months of your pregnancy. You can do simple workouts for thighs, buttocks, arms and chest.
Exercising with a fitball
Stretching and strengthening your muscles.
1. Flexibility is something you will really need during childbirth.
Sitting on the fitball, spread your knees and let your feet be as far apart as possible. Reach out for your left foot with your right hand shifting your hips in the opposite direction, and then do the same, but with your left hand to your right foot. This exercise is great for stretching thighs, back and shoulder muscles.
2. For back and lower back muscles.
Sit on the fitball. If it’s hard for you to keep balance, you can rest your hands on it. Do some swaying movements with your hips from side to side, then back and forth, and then roll your hips round and round, first clockwise, then counterclockwise. You can do just the same later during childbirth: this will help you relax, get distracted from pain and get some rest in between labor pains.
3.For thighs and leg muscles.
Sit on the floor and spread your legs as wide as you can. Put your stability ball between your knees and squeeze it with your legs as hard as possible. Repeat it several times, tensing and relaxing your leg and thigh muscles in turns.
4. For shoulder muscles.
Squeeze your fitball between your outstretched arms. Tense your arm and shoulder muscles, squeezing and releasing hold on your fitball in turns.
5. For buttocks and lower back.
Settle on your knees with the Swiss Ball in front of you and lay your chest down on the ball. Transfer your body weight on it, put your hands under your chin and start swinging your legs in a smooth motion in turns trying to keep them straight.
6. For abs.
Sitting on the floor, lean back on your fitball. Let your shoulder blades be pressed against the ball and your knees bent. With your hands on the back of your head, raise your body and stay in this position for several seconds. Remember that it’s not recommended to overload your belly muscles when you’re pregnant (but it’s ok to do this exercise if you are careful enough).
After you learn how to relax with the fitball, you will be 100% prepared to give birth. Settle on your knees in front of the ball and lay your chest down on it. Hug it with your arms and relax your back muscles.
It can also happen that you have to energy to do the exercises. So just lie down on the ball, relax and enjoy both yourself and your baby.
Contradictions for fitball exercises
Despite the fact that a Swiss Ball is quite safe for pregnancy exercises, there are some contraindications that shouldn’t be overlooked. These include:
– early pregnancy stages. It’s when the chance of miscarriage due to heavy physical activity is very high;
– high uterine tonus;
– serious orthopedic or somatic pathology.
So before starting your fitball workouts consult with your doctor and only after he confirms that nothing can stop you from exercising with a Swiss Ball, start working out and enjoy it as much as you can!