Hello again, its been a couple of weeks since my previous blog 'The Pregnant Pelvis Part 1 & 2. I left with a promise of explaining my thoughts on 'Folic Squats' next time so here we are.
I have previously highlighted my opinions on the importance of remaining fit and active during pregnancy to optimise the pelvis' ability to cope with the biomechanical and hormonal changes placed upon it during pregnancy. There is no other time in a women's life that the body changes so dramatically over such a relatively short period of time, so why should we expect it not to complain back at us sometimes during this time? Now I want to take it a step back before pregnancy and discuss when and how exercise should be considered; so lets think a little more globally, if you are considering having a baby, what measures do we know you should take to prepare yourself for it? Thankfully messages have reached the public eye about the importance of taking folic acid supplements,stopping alcohol consumption and keeping caffeine intake to a minimum, so why not use this as a tool!
Plain and simply, what I am trying to say is when you are considering taking folic acid three months prior to trying to conceive, you should be considering making your body robust for the changes to come; when you reach for the folic acid each day, follow it up with 3 sets of 12 of your finest squats! This should take way less than 5 minutes of your time, thats it! repeat this 3 times a day and you're up to 108, and you're preparing your butt for the journey ahead.
So is this safe? 108 is a very conservative number to start with, and whilst there is no denying that there is a 'right way' to squat and a 'worse way' to squat (for those of you who know me you will have heard that phrase many a time from me!), the volume is low enough to ensure you are very unlikely to cause a problem. If you do find this hard, it may highlight you should seriously consider getting fitter before the physical journey ahead...
If we are looking at addressing mass participation and starting the thought processes in the ladies of this generation that exercise + pregnancy = a health pregnancy and healthy baby, then keeping it simple maybe key. Commencing with 'starter squats', with depth of 'sittting to standing from a chair', then progress gradually to deeper squats, and getting the numbers to 5 sets of 20. Anything above this beginning to load it- its much more time efficient and you can start to achieve some significant load volumes with just a couple of kilograms extra. Whilst things such as the squat challenge on facebook are a good start - its much better to be doing something than watching TV - the numbers and effort can seem a bit overwhelming. once you are able to do 100 in one session, you'd be better off adding weight to lower numbers, rather than hitting 150, 175, 200...
Of course, if you have gotten to 5 sets of 20 and want to learn more than this is where booking a session with myself (or any exercise professional with experience is delivering exercise to mums of expectant mums) may prove beneficial to further you're knowledge before just sticking a load of weight on your shoulders. But the basic message is simple: if you are thinking about embracing motherhood, which entails putting your body through a crazy 9 months (at least...) then why not get as prepared as possible.
And just to point out, the reason I’ve chosen squats it because of the simplicity of the movement and the fact everyone has to do a form of one during the day. There are MANY other beneficial exercises to try, this is just a gentle nudge in the right direction.
But if you are wanting to strive for the optimum during pregnancy then there is no denying that liaising with a personal trainer or women's health physiotherapist would be advisable; this could be months or even in the year before you are planning to conceive. This way you can receive an individualised tailored programme to your needs and abilities, thus making it as timely and effective as possible, so that you really can prepare your musculoskeletal frame in the best way possible for the requirements to come.
I think it'd be very useful if when reaching for the packet of folic acid or pre pregnancy supplements on the shelf in the supermarket, the reverse side had a section on 'Folic Squats'. Yes, they are just squats, but everyone likes something with a fancier name...
So, food for thought if this is on your lifetime agenda ladies, or partners - I know that without my husbands support and encouragement it would have been much harder, so exercising as a team can be key to keep you motivated and compliant! We've just come back from a pretty slow 12km bike ride which I wouldn't have done without Ady shouting words of encouragement from alongside me. I've got jelly legs, but hey - 31 weeks in, I think that's acceptable?!? And its given me an excuse to stick my feet up, open an early easter egg and get to writing this blog.
Any thoughts welcome as always; as said previously, this is my own opinion as a 31 week pregnant women's health physiotherapist, speaking from first hand and professional experience. It is only an opinion but hopefully achieves my aim of getting people talking and debating!
If there are any ladies out there wanting to know more about 'folic squats' or pre pregnancy exercise or pelvic floor health then please get in touch. Feel free to comment, email, text or call to arrange a time that is good for you for an assessment. For more information, browse the rest of my website of visit www.rowanhousecentre.co.uk.
Happy squatting this Easter!