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Resistance Training During Pregnancy

At Principle Four Osteopathy we will often see pregnant clients at the clinic who are currently undertaking some form of resistance training i.e. personalised training program that is self directed in teh gym, personalised training with a personal trainer or group fitness classes.  One of the common questions that comes up in conversation is around exercise and what is safe/appropriate etc.

As I was recently reading the article titled “Resistance Training During Pregnancy” that was published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal in 2007, I thought I would highlight some of the key take home messages from this article for readers.

For those who are also seeking additional information around exercise and pregnancy, please click on the links below.

Exercise is Medicine Australia Fact Sheet

ESSA article titled “Baby on board” – Not an excuse to not exercise

American College Sports Medicine Factsheet

Please remember to always consult with your GP or Obstetrician if you are pregnant and wanting to seek some further personalised advice.

Key Messages From The Article

  • The three primary concerns for exercising during pregnancy include trauma to the fetus, hyperthermia and maintenance of blood flow to the uterus.
  • The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology offer different advice for those who have been regularly exercising before pregnancy and for those who initiate exercise during pregnancy.
  • The general rule is that if a regular exerciser has no contraindications, she may continue exercising during pregnancy.  Some modifications to ones training may be required as the pregnancy progresses.
  • For those that are wanting to initiate exercise during pregnancy, a more conservative approach is taken.
  • The goals of resistance training during pregnancy could include improving posture to reduce lower back pain and strengthen weight bearing muscles.
  • Resistance training should be limited to low to moderate intensities.
  • In the second and third trimester exercises should not be performed in a supine position (on ones back) and should be performed at an intensity that allows the lifter to perform 12-15 repetitions to fatigue. One set of each exercise should be sufficient. If more than one set is performed per exercise, provide an extended rest break between sets for heart rate recovery.
  • One should try to avoid holding their breathe when exercising as this can result in blood pressure increases.
  • Avoiding large heavy weights and using light dumbbells, elastic tubing/bands or bodyweight as resistance are appropriate.
  • Water based exercise is also suitable as it is a safe alternative that allows both aerobic conditioning and some gentle strength work.
  • The article states to avoid exercises such as deadlifts, squats and lunges.  However I would be inclined to modify exercises such as squats and lunges etc to that of bodyweight or by adding more stability and control such as a static lunge or swiss ball wall squat.

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.

Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD and Docklands leading osteopathy clinics.  We provide a range of services that includes hands on manual therapy, exercise prescription for rehabilitation, strength and conditioning and performance, functional movement screening and ergonomic risk assessments.

If you would like to find out more about our practice, please check us out at www.principlefourosteopathy.com.   Appointments can be made by calling 03 9670 9290 or booking online at www.principlefourosteopathy.com.