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How to exercise during pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy

Exercise during Pregnancy

by Robin Moldenhauer, PT, DPT

Research shows that exercise during pregnancy provides numerous health benefits including decreased pain, improved function of the heart and lungs, faster postpartum recovery, decreased insomnia, and gestational weight management. Current recommendations state that women who are pregnant should perform moderate, low-impact exercise 150 minutes a week.

High-Impact Activities and Adverse Outcomes

Average pregnant women who engage in high intensity exercise prevent excessive gestational weight gain, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and even postpartum weight retention. This may also lead to better fetal outcomes (i.e. decreased risk of adult obesity, cardiovascular risk factors, and other chronic diseases). There is no significant association between vigorous exercise during pregnancy and preterm birth, unplanned C-section, low infant birth weight, or IUGR.

Diastasis of the Rectus Abdominus Muscle

Abdominal separation occurs when the tissue connecting the abdominal muscles stretches/thins. In pregnant women specifically, this separation results from a combination of core weakness and mechanical stress caused by fetal growth and organ displacement. Pregnant women should pay close attention to their core—especially when performing strenuous activities.

Exercise Adaptation

During pregnancy women experience numerous changes—belly size being the most predominant. These changes often require activity modification and occasional suspension. For instance, lying prone (on one’s stomach) should be discontinued until after birth. Another example is switching from jump squats to sumo squats to decrease impact and belly strain. Good form is perhaps the most important aspect to performing any exercise. If expecting mothers feel confident in their perinatal training and have no adverse responses to their exercises (vigorous or otherwise), then they may continue to perform those exercises throughout gestation. Above all else, women must listen to their bodies; if an activity causes pain or discomfort, then changes should be made.

What to Avoid

Women who are pregnant should avoid exercising in hot/humid climates; they should seek environments and wear clothing that permit adequate ventilation and cooling and ensure core temperature regulation. Pregnant women should also refrain from playing contact sports, doing activities that increase fall risk, and performing the Valsalva maneuver.

Warning Signs

Expecting mothers should be aware of the various signs that they are exercising too much. Signs include, chronic fatigue and feeling abnormally hot, dizzy, dehydrated, and/or weak. Vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage, chest pain, pain or swelling in the calf, and abnormal/painful uterine contractions are all major warning signs and warrant immediate consult.

If you have more questions about how to exercise during pregnancy, contact Dr. Moldenhauer at our Moon Valley clinic.  She can be reached at 602-843-8486.

What is Dry Needling and how can it help?

What is Dry Needling?
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What is Dry Needling?

Dry Needling was originally developed  in the 1940’s by Janet Travell, MD, former medical adviser to the White House (JFK’s physician).  Dry needling is founded on modern understanding of human anatomy and pathophysiology and on modern scientific research, drawing heavily on leading edge neurological research using modern imaging techniques such as functional MRIs of the brain and real-time ultrasound.

Total Sports Therapy Cave Creek, North Phoenix, and Moon Valley offices offers both Integrative Dry Needling and Functional Dry Needling (FDN).  It is a skilled technique performed by a physical therapist using filiform needles to penetrate the skin and/or underlying tissues to affect change in body structures and functions for the evaluation and management of neuromusculoskeletal conditions, pain, movements impairments and disability (FOSBPT 2015).  Dry needling is classified as an evidence based modern Western medical modality that is not based on Traditional Chinese Medical acupuncture.  It has it’s own unique theoretical concepts, terminology, techniques and clinical applications, completely separate from Chinese acupuncture.  In result, most insurances cover this service as a physical therapy modality.

Effectiveness of Treatment

Integrative Dry Needling, combined with physical therapy treatment, has been effective in treating the following conditions:

  • Acute and chronic tendonitis
  • Athletic and sports-related overuse injuries
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Neurological symptoms such as Bells Palsy and Shingles
  • Chronic pain conditions
  • Headaches and whiplash
  • Neck/lower back pain
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Tennis/golfers elbow
  • Muscle spasms
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sciatica
  • Hip pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • TMJ
  • Many other neuromusculoskeletal conditions