Water Exercises and their benefits during Pregnancy
As a low-impact therapy, aquatic exercise is ideal for pregnancy pain relief. Increased buoyancy, greater flexibility and less risk of falls are also benefits.
The female body deals with many changes during pregnancy and can cause many different physical ailments. Water exercise can be extremely beneficial during this time.
The warmth and buoyancy of the water can offer relief for back pain by relaxing tired muscles and removing up to 80% of one’s body weight. The best way to avoid the pain is to strengthen muscles in the core.
Strengthen the Core
Exercising can be difficult while pregnant and particularly uncomfortable. In the water, aquatic exercises can be done to strengthen the core and leg muscles to help mitigate the back pain and reduce it moving forward. In water the exercises are easier due to the reduced weight and reduced effects of gravity.
Risk of Falling
Water creates a safe place to exercise where falling is not a risk. A study in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological & Neonatal Nursing states that exercising even just one time per week in water can reduce back pain up to 50% compared to land-based exercise.
Although healthy weight gain is important for the growth of the baby, some women want to find ways to control their pregnancy weight. Keeping up with exercise during pregnancy is typically safe and suggested to help the weight come off faster after pregnancy. With water exercises, the viscosity of water adds resistance without adding weights, which means that exercise can continue to be effective without adding strain and pain to a womans growing body.
Water is an ideal environment for relieving some of the swelling. The hydrostatic pressure of water (the weight of water on one’s body in all directions at the same time) naturally increases circulation and decreases swelling in the lower extremities. This increased circulation drives the fluid upward in the body, resulting in decreased swelling.
According to a research study, water therapy can cause improved sleep patterns. For pregnant women, this can have dramatic effects. Oftentimes, sleep becomes more difficult later in pregnancy when it is most important.
It has also been seen in studies of pregnant women, that aquatic exercise can show less fetal heart rate changes during exertion than land exercise.
Exercises such as underwater treadmill walking or jogging, agua jogging and mild aerobics can help to keep cardiovascular endurance high.
Doing exercises like squats and stretching are much more comfortable in the water when pregnant than on land. Using flotation devices can add extra resistance to exercises.
By doing exercises in water, one is naturally working on their core stability as they work to stay upright while the water provides forces from all directions. Muscles are engaged and lengthened while they work to keep you balanced. The use of resistance jets can be added to further strengthen core muscles, by performing back presses or side bends against the jets.
Before using water exercise during pregnancy, consult a physician or physical therapist. Although it is safe and effective for most healthy pregnant women, they will know what is best for you.