During pregnancy, your body is going through many changes, including increased laxity (i.e. looseness) of your joints and muscles. Due to these changes, you may need to modify your exercise routine, as you may be more prone to injury.
Increased joint laxity is due to elevated hormone levels of relaxin, estrogen and progesterone, which are produced during the pregnancy.
Specific musculosketetal changes include:
- Exaggerated lordosis of the lower back. This change helps to offset the change in center of gravity as your uterus grows. This makes balance difficult, so avoid exercises requiring balance to prevent falls and injuries (e.g. biking during later pregnancy)
- Separation of rectus abdominal muscles (i.e. muscles running from the ribs to the pubic bone). For this reason, you may wish to limit or modify your abdominal exercises.
- Widening and laxity of SI joints and pubic symphysis. This can lead to pelvic instability, causing abdominal or pelvic discomfort during pregnancy. Discomfort can also be due to tension on the round ligaments and increased uterine mobility as it grows.
To help combat your higher risk of strains or sprains during pregnancy, you may need to modify your exercise routine. Consider exercises that have less impact on your joints (e.g. swimming). However if you wish to continue exercises like running or weight lifting, be cognizant of your increased risk and consider modification of running surfaces/distance or amount of weight you are lifting.
Following these general tips can help ensure a healthy pregnancy outcome for you and your baby. However, these are general guidelines so you should consult your doctor to see if and which exercises are safe for you.