Spring has finally arrived in Colorado and I’ve been itching to get out of the house! Its the best time of year- when exercise doesn’t feel like exercise but instead an excuse to get fresh air, soak up some rays and enjoy this gorgeous world.
Though my workouts are definitely much different than they were in the beginning of my pregnancy, I notice that my body feels much better when I’m keeping up my strength. I have shifted away from heavy cardiovascular sessions; my SI joints (where your pelvis meets your tailbone) were not having it, and all the added bladder pressure made it pretty uncomfortable. At about 35 weeks, I noticed my hip flexors would be all jacked up for a couple days after “doing cardio”…. And realized it was time to shift my focus.
At that point, strengthening exercises – using little more than my own body weight or an elastic band- felt so good. After weeks of feeling like my joints were spreading and stretching, pulling them all back in with muscle strength and control was just what I needed to feel like I was still making progress, and quiet the burgeoning aches and pains.
This park workout has been one of my recent favorites- just enough to get the blood pumping and to fatigue my muscles, but still leaves me feeling strong and pain-free at the end of it. You can make it difficult or simplify it as needed, day to day, depending on how you feel. Get creative and try to move your body in as many different planes of movement as possible to achieve a full body balancing effect. Here’s what worked for me:
1) Start with a brisk walk to the park (about a mile) where there is a 3/4 mile gravel-paved loop.
2) At the first bench, do a set of ten tricep push-ups, elbows in and legs a little wider than hip distance. Holding plank is always a good option to modify.
3) As I walked I added in some lateral arm circles to hit the deltoids…
4) When I got to the picnic table, I did step-ups on the bench. Start with one leg leading for ten reps, then switch sides for ten. Try to keep the hips as level as possible rather than hiking the hip on the way up. Use your arms in front of you for counterbalance but try to avoid pressing down on your thigh to get up. This is great for the glutes, core, and hamstrings when done correctly!
5) At the next bench, I did some tricep dips, keeping my legs slightly bent to modify.
6) Continuing around the circle, at the next picnic table it was side step-ups and lateral pelvic tilts. I have been trying to focus on glute medius strengthening, to take some pressure off my piriformis and relieve the hip aches and pains as my pelvis spreads. What does this mean? Lots of one-legged balancing, side leg work, and keeping my hips as level as possible!
7) Continuing the walk around the loop, I added a shoulder rotation exercise and a row- always trying to counteract that rounding and hunching of my upper body! The key when doing these sans resistance? Don’t let your ribs pop open or your back arch. Isolate the movement in the shoulder joint only and you’ll feel much more.
8) I took a break at the next bench to do hold plank, and side plank as long as I could… Reverse plank is another great choice which will open the chest, and work the back side of the legs. And as always, plank on the knees is a great option.
9) Finishing out the loop, I did ten walking lunges on each leg, aiming to keep my ear, shoulder, rib, hip and knee in one line, and hips even with each other.
Some days I do the whole circuit again before heading home. But if I start feeling more Braxton Hicks, I call it a day and walk the mile back to my house.
Remember to be adaptable. Maybe running five miles doesn’t feel good anymore or your hour long power vinyasa class is leaving you achy and sore. Or maybe you are a couch triathlete whose body is starting to hurt more as your pregnancy progresses and moving a little is just what you need. There are many different ways to add exercise into your day- the key is to remain open, listen to what feels good, and get creative. Your body and baby will thank you!