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Reformer Series: STOTT PILATES® for Expecting Mothers

Pilates for Pregnancy

Photo courtesy of @knockedupfitness

When working with pregnant clients, it's essential to offer effective cues and additional guidelines as their bodies change. Fitness goals can be set according to trimester.

In the first trimester, developing leg strength is important, while in the second, preparing the upper body for the rigors of carrying and feeding the baby—focusing on scapulae and developing endurance and strength—are paramount. In the final trimester the general fitness goals are the same, but endurance and tolerance are different. Throughout the pregnancy avoid increasing range of motion, as the relaxin released in the body during this time is already relaxing the ligaments.

For the pregnant participant, focus on a natural, relaxed breathing style is essential. Encourage your clients to work within the boundaries of their changing bodies (i.e. elevated diaphragm).

Think about the images you are giving to your pregnant client. Are they in line with her physical condition? For example “hug your baby” is a great image to create the subtle connection to the inner core unit muscles (transverse abdominus, pelvic floor, diaphragm, multifidus) rather than using words like “compress” or “flatten.”

Pregnancy can affect blood flow and circulation in the lower extremities. Tightness and cramping in the lower legs is also a common complaint. Adding ankle and foot exercises will improve mobility and increase circulation throughout the pregnancy.

Below are some Reformer-based STOTT PILATES exercises appropriate for pregnant clients.


First Trimester: Leg Strengthening

Starting Position

  • Sit on the Spine Supporter facing the footbar. Sit so that the upper torso and neck are vertical and tension-free. Arms are long by the sides, with the hands holding the sides of the carriage. Place the footbar in position 1 or 2. Place feet hip distance apart on the footbar.

Exercise

  • Inhale to prepare
  • Exhale extend both legs
  • Inhale return to starting position

Modification

  • Alternate legs, bending one knee and bringing the knee in towards the torso as the opposite leg extends
  • Incorporate upper body strengthening by using the straps (ideal for second trimester)

Second Trimester: Upper Body Strengthening

Starting Position

  • Kneeling position on the carriage, facing the footbar. Knees are hip distance apart. Hands are on the footbar, elbows bent.

Exercise

  • Inhale to prepare
  • Exhale extend both arms
  • Inhale return to starting position

Third Trimester: Ankle Pump

Starting Position

  • Sit on the Spine Supporter facing the footbar. Sit so that the upper torso and neck are vertical and tension-free. Arms are long by the sides, with the hands holding the sides of the carriage. Place the footbar in position 1 or 2. Place the balls of the feet hip distance apart on the footbar.

Exercise

  • Inhale to prepare
  • Exhale extend both legs
  • Alternate between dorsiflexion and plantar flexion in the feet

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