Essential Exercises for Your Pregnancy That You Can Do With Crossover Symmetry
Guest post by Gina Conley, MS, CD (DONA) from MamasteFit
There is an increased laxity of the pelvic joints (and almost all the joints) during pregnancy. This is so the baby's head can more easily navigate the pelvis for descent and delivery.
However, an increase in laxity can cause instability and result in discomfort or pain. But by strengthening the muscular connections that cross the pelvis, you can add support and stability to the pelvic joints, which can help address pelvic pain during and after your pregnancy.
In this article, I'll help you understand the important myofascial slings of the body and show you some easy exercises to strengthen them using your Crossover Symmetry System.
Plus, be sure to check out the 4-Week Postpartum Program now available on the Crossover Symmetry Training App.
The Myofascial Slings
There are four major slings in the body:
Anterior Oblique Sling
The main sling that supports the pubic symphysis, or the front pelvic joint, is the anterior oblique sling. It goes from the oblique to the opposite inner thigh. At the Mamastefit Gym, we've found that incorporating exercises for the anterior oblique slings in our prenatal programming helps decrease pain associated with pubic symphysis dysfunction.
Exercises to target the anterior oblique sling incorporates simultaneous activation of the oblique and opposite adductor. These exercises create an inward rotation, with the opposite shoulder or arm moving inward towards the opposite hip or leg. A great example is walking, and as one leg moves forward, the opposite arm swings forward, activating the AOS to help stabilize.
Posterior Oblique Sling
The posterior oblique sling goes from the latissimus dorsi (back muscle) to the opposite glute (your booty). It crosses and helps to support the SI joint at the base of the spine.
Posterior oblique sling exercises involve simultaneous contraction of the lat and the opposite glute by using movements that rotate one side of the back towards the opposite leg or glute.
A great example of this is when we are walking and pushing off the foot to move forward. The leg extends backward as the opposite side arm swings back.
Deep Longitudinal Sling
The deep longitudinal sling runs along one side of the body from head to toe along the backside.
Hinge type movements (leaning forward at the hip, like deadlifts) help to activate this sling.
The lateral sling runs along one side of the body, outside of the hip, and wraps to the inner thigh. This sling helps stabilize the hip in single-leg movements and supports both the pubic symphysis and SI joints.
Movements that focus on balancing like step-ups and single-leg deadlifts help to activate and strengthen this sling.
But It's Not That Simple!
Several slings help stabilize the pelvic joints, some of which don't even cross over it! The slings also weave together or share muscles and similar paths. For example, the posterior oblique sling blends with the deep longitudinal sling, and the anterior oblique sling blends with the lateral sling. They don't work independently, either. Each sling works together to help stabilize the pelvis!
The Need for Strengthening
Since pregnancy is a time of extra movement and mobility, it can also be a time of instability. We can usually remedy instability with additional strengthening, as opposed to more stretching or just waiting it out for birth! Strengthening these slings helps to increase stability and therefore decrease prenatal discomfort or pain associated with the pelvic girdle. Here are some exercises to add to your routine to help support a healthy body throughout and after your pregnancy.
As mentioned earlier, pain of the pubic symphysis is common during pregnancy because, as the belly grows, the muscles become stretched. As a muscle lengthens, it has a more challenging time contracting and therefore, the function is decreased.
View this post on Instagram
Strengthening the Anterior Oblique Sling helps to stabilize the pubic symphysis joint, which can help with this pain. The Pallof press is a great movement to target the obliques, paired with an adjunct to cause adductor contraction as well, and then boom, the anterior oblique sling is activated.
We do this by squeezing a ball or yoga block between the legs while doing a Pallof press. We have tons of progressions for the Pallof press and how to add the adductor co-contraction on the Mamastefit blog. Or, for an even greater challenge, try this variation of the Copenhagen Plank combined with an anti-rotation movement.
View this post on Instagram
On the backside, the SI joints play a significant role as the junction where we transfer load between the upper and lower body, and there is a lot of musculature to support it. During pregnancy, we may find that we have increased SI joint pain as the pregnancy progresses.
To help with this, focus on strengthening the connection of the posterior oblique sling and diaphragmatic breathing. Strengthening the posterior oblique sling is done by creating exercises that focus on activating both the lat with the opposite glute simultaneously.
This is done with movements that include rowing or pulling motion and a hip extension movement. One of our favorites at MamasteFit is a glute bridge (either two-legged, staggered stance, or single leg) with a ball squeeze and a horizontal using a Crossover Symmetry band attached from above
Focus on exhaling as you pull/bridge, and inhale as you release. Squeeze the ball on the exhale, release the ball on the inhale.
Coordinating breath with movement is huge for stabilization, especially during pregnancy, and helps us learn how to relax and strengthen the pelvic floor (big for labor). Another option you can do while standing is a reverse lunge with a row.
Step back with the right leg, as you row with the right arm, and vice versa. Exhale as you lunge backward with an extended arm, and then exhale as you stand up while rowing towards the torso.
Pelvic Strength for Pregnancy and Postpartum
With some specialized focus on strengthening the slings that connect the upper and lower half, you can better support your body through the process. Try adding these exercises with your Crossover Symmetry gear, and if you're looking for more, we offer a bit more with the Mamastefit Pelvic Stability Program.
This is a 3-week program of added accessory work for your current workout routine, or you can use it as a standalone program if you cannot exercise due to pelvic joint discomfort/pain. I also have other in-person and online training programs to help you along the way.
I would be very happy to help you through all parts of your pregnancy, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.