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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Having a ball

These fun exercises can help a pregnant woman adapt to changes in her body.
The Straits Times - August 16, 2012
By: Ng Wan Ching
| More
Having a ball

Core strengthening is one way to prevent back pain and injury during pregnancy.

A woman's body undergoes enormous changes to accommodate her growing baby, said Ms Ng Shin Huey, senior physiotherapist at the rehabilitation department at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH).

Her pelvis may widen and abdominal muscles will stretch. These changes and the added weight of the baby and bigger breasts may lead to postural changes.

These may result in a strain on the pregnant woman's muscles and joints, causing neck strain, and hip and lower back pain.

"Core muscles are the key to a healthy pregnancy and can help to reduce back pain and improve the ability to perform daily chores during and after pregnancy," said Ms Ng.

The main muscle of the core is the transversus abdominis, which wraps around the torso from the front to the back, and from the ribs to the pelvis.

Its muscle fibres run horizontally, similar to a corset or a weight belt.

The rest of the core is made up of the pelvic floor and back muscles.

Core-strengthening exercises can help increase the stability of the pelvic region and tone weakened abdominal muscles.

The growth of the abdomen also changes the pregnant woman's centre of gravity, leading to changes in weight distribution and increasing the risk of falling during pregnancy, said Ms Ng.

The hormone relaxin, which is released during pregnancy to relax a pregnant woman's ligaments and thereby ease childbirth, targets not only the pelvis, but the joints in the whole body, causing them to become looser than usual. This may lead to reduced balance.

Hence, improving the sense of balance may help pregnant women perform daily activities more easily and safely.

In real-life situations, human bodies are constantly challenged to react dynamically to the environment, something that a woman might not do as well when her centre of gravity changes.

Using a gym ball in exercises helps create a dynamic or unstable surface. A pregnant woman can use such a ball to practise reacting to changes in balance and to improve her coordination.

Women who were active before their pregnancies can do the exercises demonstrated here safely.

Women who were not should consult their obstetricians or any exercise professional before starting any of these exercises.

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