The gym ball is a great piece of equipment to support your workouts during pregnancy. As pregnancy develops, exercises lying on your back are not advised, and often sitting positions on the floor can become uncomfortable. The gym ball offers additional versatility in terms of both support, and challenges to continue progressing your workouts.
Sitting on the gym ball: This can relieve pelvic floor and low back pain of sitting on hard chairs. The mobility of sitting on the ball and moving gently means the pressure is constantly being moved about so it is not directly on one region the whole time, alleviating any pelvic and low back pain tightness and stiffness. This mobility also gives your core a little subtle workout too!
Support from the gym ball: The gym ball can be used to support you in to stretches that will relieve tightness in common pregnancy-related areas, such as through the chest, lower back, and waist/rib areas. The ball allows you to get a little further in to the stretches whilst having room for your bump and comfort to hold the positions.
Strengthening on the ball: As we mentioned above, lying flat on your back is contraindicated after the first trimester and this removes a considerable chunk of exercises you can do, especially within the Pilates repertoire. These can however all be adapted and performed on the gym ball to continue your strength work.
Try these stretches here to relieve any pregnancy-specific tightness and improve mobility:
Forward fold: Lean your body forwards from the hips to lengthen the spine in to flexion, with room for your bump. Encourage the legs to become straight for a hamstring stretch. Relax your shoulders downwards. Rise back up tall to sitting before repeating again.
Side bend: Lean over to the side to stretch out the waist and sides, relieve rib pain and make room for your growing bump by lengthening the trunk! The ball allows you to stretch a little deeper whilst providing the support you need.
Childs pose: Part the knees wide enough to make room for the bump, and relax forwards. Letting your chest and bump soften downwards this is lovely to open the front of the body with extra support. Return up to sitting, and repeat as required.
Try these strengthening exercises to keep your body strong during your pregnancy (safe for all trimesters). Aim for 2-3 sets of 10 and ensure there is no pain throughout:
Glute bridge: Sit on the ball and walk the feet out until you are in the bridge position. Engage your core and lower the hips downwards, then squeeze the glutes to raise the hips back up again. Continue until glutes and core feel fatigued. Be careful not to over-arch your back here.
Side leg lifts: With the ball by your side in a comfortable spot, raise the top leg upwards as far as able, then lower back down. Keep your pelvis and trunk stable throughout.
Arm raises: From kneeling, squeeze the ball between the hands, engage your core, and float the ball up overhead. Keep the ribs down and bump gently drawn in. Return to the start, and repeat. This is great for encouraging good shoulder blade position, keeping them down away from your ears whilst you work through the core and trunk in elongation.
Let me know how you get on and if these were helpful for you!