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Barre and Pregnancy: Safe Exercises for Pregnant Women

By February 8, 2019 Blog
Pregnant Exercise

If What to Expect is recommending something for Mommas-to-be, you know it’s gotta be good! According to the experts (and countless new Moms we’ve worked with), Barre is an excellent form of exercise throughout pregnancy.

What Makes Barre Great for Pregnant Women?

According to What to Expect, “With your doctor’s OK, you can practice barre multiple times per week throughout your pregnancy without high risk of injury.”

In short, what makes Barre a great prenatal workout is the same thing that makes it an awesome workout for everyone: There are no high-impact exercises — like jumping or skipping — which can cause joint pain in anyone and is especially not recommended for pregnant women.

Instead barre focuses on small, isolated movements that create tone and strength without bulk (muscles you’ll need when you’re carting around your little one). While you shouldn’t be trying to lose weight during your pregnancy, gaining lean muscle can help with labor and delivery and will help you lose the baby weight later on.

Additionally, we keep our studios nice and cool, so you don’t need to worry about overheating. We always lengthen and stretch every muscle we work, so you’ll also get to release some of the tension you may find building up thanks to carrying around extra weight.

BolderBARRE Pregnancy Modifications to Know

General:

  • Listen to your body! Especially during the first trimester, your body may be telling you you need to take it a bit easier. Always feel free to take a rest when you need to.
  • Make space for your baby belly anywhere you feel tight or constricted. For example, you may wish to step your feet to hip distance apart instead of zipping the legs all the way together. Forward fold with the feet hip distance apart or even wider.
  • Most Mommas-to-Be have no trouble with weight work as it is typically done standing up. Listen to your body and take it easier if you need to.
  • In general, once you have a noticeable bump, you’ll want to limit the time you spend on your back. How long you can lay on your back depends a lot on your body and your pregnancy. Most experts suggest that a minute or two is fine — listen to your own body. Always roll onto your side and press yourself up if you feel you’ve been on your back too long.
  • Get your doctor’s approval to exercise during pregnancy and adjust with any modifications he or she thinks you should make.

Warmup, Plank & Pushup

  • During warm-up, skip the option to add a bounce anywhere it’s offered (we always start movements without the bounce, so you’ll know what to do).
  • During knee lifts, keep your knees lower if they’re bumping into your belly, or turn your toes out and knee lift to the side.
  • Plank is great for building your core and back strength, which you’ll want as your belly grows. However, modify onto your knees or the barre, as your belly grows if you feel any strain on your back.
  • Pushups can also be done on the knees or at the barre if needed.

Thigh & Seat

  • Most thigh and seat exercises can be done as usual. However, if you feel pain in the low back when pulling off the barre (e.g. Chair), switch to a standing thigh exercise.
  • Instead of folding all the way forward in foldover seat exercises, stand upright or on a diagonal, working with the lifted leg lower to the ground.
  • Carrying extra baby weight can be hard on the joints. Be cognizant of any pain in the knees and work higher if your knees hurt. Adjusting heel height or squeezing in on a ball can also help address knee pain.
  • If your feet hurt when lifting your heels, bring a mat to the barre to stand on.

Core

Core is one of the most variable sections of class for Moms-to-be. The most common changes you may wish to make would be getting off of your back and keeping room around your low abdomen for your bump (i.e. not pulling the thighs close to the belly). The three best positions to maintain are:

  • Sit upright and then hinge back at the hips to a 45 degree angle. Hold behind your thighs. Keep your spine straight. Support your low back with a ball. Walk your feet further forward if your belly is bumping into your thighs.
  • Turn over onto your hands and knees. Extend your opposite arm and leg. Switch sides after each rep or halfway through core. Depending on where you are in your pregnancy, you may also choose to tuck the toes and lift the knees to a bear raise, lifting and wrapping the core to support your belly.
  • Sit upright with ankles crossed or feet together in a butterfly position. Lengthen the spine and focus on deep breathing, lengthening the core and dropping the pelvic floor with each in-breath, lifting and engaging the core and pelvic floor with each out-breath (like a kegel – but for the entire pelvic floor and core unit – and sloooooow, with the breath).

Wherever it makes sense, you can always stick with your instructor’s choreography, even if you’re working with a different range of motion or in a slightly different position. That said, if the choreography doesn’t make sense for you, you can avoid boredom by varying things up. Within the three setups above, you can:

  • Switch up your speed by moving slower or faster
  • Change your range of motion moving bigger or smaller
  • Keep your hands behind your thighs but reduce the amount of weight they’re holding
  • Work with your breath to lift and engage your lowest abs as you exhale

Back Extensions & Hip Raises

  • Instead of laying on your belly, switch prone back extensions for working on hands and knees, lifting your opposite leg and arm.
  • Continue doing hip raises as usual. You may need to step the feet wide or work lower. You can also kneel on a cushion facing the barre (back upright) and follow the same choreography.

Stretch:

  • When in a lunge, do not twist toward your front leg. Instead, twist away from the front leg.
  • During pregnancy, the hormones in your body are releasing the tendons and ligaments around your hips to prepare the body for birth. Move very gently during hip openers to avoid overstretching in the groin and hips.
  • Avoid lying on your back for more than a minute or two. Take your figure four stretch with your upper body lifted, using your straight arms as a kickstand behind you.

We’d love to hear from you, Moms-to-be! Do you have questions about these setups? Looking for more interesting variations? We’d love to chat with you. Barre is such an awesome treat for Mom and baby, so let us know how we can help (and bring your pregnant friends in with you — we’d love to meet them!).