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If you are pregnant, you must have made significant changes to your diet. You must have started eating healthy foods to ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and that your baby remains safe, but eating right alone won’t help. You also need to indulge in certain safe exercises to stay fit and active during pregnancy. You can do most of the exercises, but always bear in mind the safety of your baby. Women who have an active lifestyle may have to alter their workout regime during pregnancy. If you did planks before getting pregnant, you might want to continue it during pregnancy too, but is it safe for the baby? Let’s find out!
Can Pregnant Women Do Planks?
The simple answer is yes; you can do planks during pregnancy. However, it should be done only when your doctor gives you the go-ahead. You can do planks but with certain modifications. If you are used to doing plank exercises, these modifications will be easy to make. However, if you’ve never done plank exercises before and want to start doing them during pregnancy, you must consult with your doctor.
Benefits of Plank Exercises
Plank exercises target muscles of the lower back and obliques. It also strengthens the abdominal muscles, the arm and the leg muscles too. This exercise engages the core muscles while keeping your spine in a neutral position and improves posture and strengthens the core. Since planks do not put any pressure on the belly, pregnant women might find it more comfortable than other mat exercises like abdominal crunches. It can also affect your mood positively and can help alleviate stress.
Pregnant women need to be extra careful while moving and exercising. When done correctly, planks can be extremely beneficial to them; however, it can also pose risks to the mother-to-be and the baby inside her. Read on to know more about the risks associated with doing planks during pregnancy.
What Are the Risks of Doing Planks During Pregnancy
As with other exercises, there are certain risks of doing plank exercises during pregnancy. When you do it wrong or overdo it, the following risks may arise:
While doing planks, it is important that your spine is in a neutral position. You should also check to see if you have a common condition known as diastasis recti where the abdominal walls separate to accommodate the expanding uterus. In such a case, you should refrain from doing planks.
With the risks, you need to be very careful while doing planks during pregnancy. It is, therefore, advisable to always bear in mind a few things that will make exercising fun and absolutely safe for your baby.
Things to Remember While Doing Planks During Pregnancy
Here are some important things you must bear in mind before you hit the mat:
- Always do planks under the guidance of an instructor who has worked with pregnant women and is aware of their physical restrictions.
- Planks may not be a suitable exercise to do the entire term of your pregnancy. You will find that doing planks during pregnancy in your first trimester is much easier than in the other trimesters. In fact, after the 20th week, you might find that you need to stop altogether.
- Ensure you have enough arm strength to avoid falls and injuries.
- Avoid doing planks when feeling dizzy.
- You may look for alternative exercises if your doctor prescribes against doing planks.
If you are still keen on doing planks, here are the steps you need to follow.
Steps to Do Traditional Planks During Pregnancy
As mentioned earlier, you should try doing plank exercises only under the guidance of your doctor or a certified trainer who has worked with pregnant women earlier. However, you can use the steps given below to do traditional planks.
- Get on all fours on a yoga mat.
- Make sure that your wrists are placed directly underneath your shoulders.
- Your knees have to be directly below your hips with your shins extending backwards.
- Once you are in this position, lift your right knee and extend your right leg such that only its toes touch the ground.
- Then, lift the left knee and extend the left leg in a way that your toes of the left leg touch the ground.
- Your elbows should be now positioned under your shoulders.
- Keep your neck in the neutral position, that is, look forward and not at the ground.
- Be sure to breathe normally.
- Count till ten and take a break. Repeat up to three cycles.
Once you are comfortable holding the plank position for up to ten seconds, you can start increasing the time by 5 seconds. Monitor your body and stop if you feel pain in any part of your body.
If you are looking for variations in the exercise, here what you can try.
Variations in Planks
Plank is an amazing exercise to perform, but when you are pregnant, you have to be a little careful. Make sure you use support while doing planks during pregnancy. Also, never do it alone. Perform this exercise under supervision. Here are some variations in planks that you can try:
1. Side Plank
A side plank can be done in several ways during pregnancy. However, the goal is to start with the simplest form. This gives you the opportunity to build strength while not over stressing your body. You can follow the steps below:
- Start on your left side.
- Place your left elbow below your left shoulder.
- Stack your feet on top of one another.
- Support your body with your left arm, and using your core strength, lift your body up.
- Then, extend your right arm such that it points towards the ceiling.
- Maintain this pose for ten seconds, take a break and repeat on the other hand.
- Remember to do this exercise under someone’s guidance and not alone.
2. Vertical Plank
As you progress through your pregnancy, you can try this form of plank exercise as it will be less stressful for your body.
- Stand straight facing a wall.
- Place your palms in front of you, on the wall.
- Your forearms and elbows should touch the wall.
- Push back gently against the wall.
- Make sure your shoulders are pushed away from your neck and close to the spine.
- Stay in this position for 10 seconds, release, and then repeat.
Planks are a great exercise to strengthen the core and the back muscles, which might seem like a requirement for pregnancy; however, your growing belly and pregnancy symptoms might make it uncomfortable to do the exercise and lead to injuries. Speak to your doctor or instructor to know if planks are good for you. If they allow, practice only in the forms that are suitable for you. If you are unable to do planks in the right form, then try other easy exercises. If you feel any signs of discomfort such as breathlessness, nausea, and dizziness, stop immediately and seek medical help.
Also Read: Breathing Exercises during Pregnancy