I often get asked whether planking is a good way of doing abdominal work whilst pregnant. Crunches and abdominals in flexion (when you are curling your head and chest up) are not recommended because they increase your chances of having diastasis recti.
Planks are therefore a wonderful alternative if you stick to the following guidelines…
- ALWAYS engage your Transverse Abdominis through the breathing techniques you have learned with your Pilates instructor, physiotherapist, or with a Hypopressive abdominals specialist before performing planks.
- Side planks are the safest and can be performed for 9 months, as long as your wrists are not swollen and you refer to point 1. They mainly work your obliques, those abdominal muscles responsible for toning and shrinking the waistline.
- Regular planks are safe depending on your weight gain and the number of weeks of gestation. I would recommend:
- Not planking after a +6-7kg increase in weight -See alternatives.
- Doing less repetitions after your abdominals have split in the center anyway (around week 20-22 for the first pregnancy, around week for the following pregnancies). The right posture involves the following:
- Align your whole body.
- Do not let your hips drop: Lift your baby in and up!
- Do not let your bottom pike.
- Soften your elbows and keep shoulders in line with your wrists.
- Lift your baby bump.
- Alternative ways of doing planks are many, so use them!
- Working in quadruped position, keeping in mind to lift the baby bump in and up.
- Using your footbar on the reformer, or any elevated surface to plank with less support from the front of the abdominals.
- Doing push-ups against the wall.