Exercising during pregnancy is recommended for all women, assuming you have previously talked to your doctor about what level and type of exercise is ideal for you. Most general practitioners advise childbearing women to use an exercise ball during pregnancy, as it is proven to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Not only does it can improve your fitness level but also help you prepare for childbirth.
Exercises on a ball are beneficial after childbirth, too. Once you have had the 6-week check with your GP after delivery, you can continue exercising with help of a gym or birthing ball. That handy tool will help you keep up fitness levels and gently get back in shape.
In this post, we will explain to you why and how to use an exercise ball during pregnancy. Just keep reading and find out!
Why Use an Exercise Ball?
There are quite a few reasons to use such a ball during pregnancy. These are the main benefits:
- Better balance of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the area of pelvic; that helps pelvis open easier and lets baby have an optimal position.
- Stronger lower back
- Shorter and easier labor
- Increased blood flows to uterus
- It can reduce or relieve back labor and back pain
- May reduce anxiety and stress
What Size of Exercise Ball is Right for You?
Choosing the right size ball is important to ensure that you have suitable posture when exercising with it. The higher you are the larger exercise ball is needed. When sitting on it, your hips should be roughly 4 inches higher than your knees. As a rule of thumb, you need to buy:
- 20-inch ball if you are under 5’3″
- 25-inch ball if you are between 5’3″ – 5’8″
- 30-inch ball if you are over 5’8”
How to Use an Exercise Ball During Pregnancy?
Now that you’ve seen the benefits of using the exercise ball and determined the right size, you are all set to start exercising. Here are a few simple exercises and physical activities you may practice during pregnancy:
Sitting (Figure 8)
While simply sitting on an exercise ball maybe doesn’t look like a genuine exercise, it can engage your back muscles and core, thereby slightly strengthen your lower back over time. In addition, it can help your baby position in the same line with gravity.
Here’s how to sit on your exercise ball properly:
- Place your feet around 25 inches apart so that they form a “tripod” with the ball. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor.
- Lean slightly forward keeping your spine straight all the time. That’ll help hit pelvic floor muscles and make them stronger.
- Optional steps: You may also roll the shoulders back while sitting, slightly pull lower belly, and make small hip circles. Aside from strengthening your hips, this light exercise can also relax your joints and muscles.
The exercise ball can be used as an office chair during pregnancy. If you have to finish some office jobs, just bring your exercise ball to work and sit on it comfortably while working.
Squats (Wall squats)
Another way to utilize an exercise ball is to do squats with it. The ball will actually serve as your stabilizer while practicing. This is a great way to keep the legs and pelvic strong during pregnancy. That can help you open your pelvis gently and keep your whole body well balanced.
Here’s how to practice squatting with an exercise ball:
- Place the exercise ball between your lower back and the wall.
- Roll downward slowly as much as you can (the closer to the floor, the better) while bending the knees.
- Straighten the legs slowly and roll back.
You can also practice squats this way:
- Place the ball against the wall (this step is the same).
- Raise the ball till it reaches your middle back.
- Start to squat by rolling it up and down so that the ball stays between the wall and your back.
Choose the way that best suits you.
During pregnancy, the weight will start leaning forward at some point. This exercise will help you take the weight off your back. This is where the exercise ball comes in. While leaning, it will support your upper body.
- Start from a kneeling position. You’re supposed to do this on the floor, but you can practice it on the bed as well.
- Then simply lean on your ball.
- Additional step: Try to get into the hands and knees posture by hugging the ball and raising your bottom a bit. In this position, you can move your pelvis gently from left to right and vice versa.
You can continue exercising with the ball after your baby is born. As your child grows up, the exercise ball will become his/her favorite plaything. That makes it the best part of pregnancy equipment for all expectant mothers!