Inner Thigh Exercise During Pregnancy

Alexandra Powell Allred's picture

QUESTION

Dear Alexandra,
My name is Iris and I am from Germany so I would like to apologize for my English not being flawless. I am 31 years old. I already have a 14-month-old child and I am used to strenuous exercise.

Currently, I am running competetively, doing weight training (free weights, quite heavy) and kettlebells. I also was very active during my first pregnancy but as we had tried hard to have a child I was scared to do too much so I stopped running and confined to the ellyptical, weights (machines) and swimming.

I wish to become pregnant again when my kid is a little over 2 years old and this time I wish to continue with free weights (squats, rowing etc.) and kettlebells. I am much stronger than before my pregnancy and much more experienced with weight training.

During my last pregnancy I periodically experienced some pain in my symphysis (I guess I did not have a real separation for I only experienced the pain for some days and on other days not and only with certain movements), mostly when spreading my legs and I could not use the inner thight machine until six months after my daughter`s birth because of intense pain (I am avoiding machnies now altogether).

I am very much afraid that this is going to happen again in my next pregnancy for I wish so much to continue with free weights to a certain degree. I especially enjoy squats for they add strength to my weak gluteus and would so much like to continue and not become a waddling cow that cannot move from the sofa. Is there ANYTHING I can do to prevent symphysis problems? Will the problem come back in my next pregnancy and strike me even worse? Can a stronger gluteus help to prevent this?
I thank you very, very much!
Sincerrely
Iris

ANSWER

First, your English is great! Are you kidding me? I wish I could speak two languages so I am impressed.

The fact that you are an elite athlete and used to strenuous exercise is excellent. Muscle memory is an amazing thing. I often worry about women who rarely workout and suddenly want to get into shape while pregnant. But you are doing everything right! Because you are acclimated to hard exercise, have great stamina and muscle strength/core, you are in the perfect position to workout throughout your pregnancy.

  1. Of course, you need to talk to your doctor. Because I do not know what your medical background, we have to be sure you are cleared (medically) to continue working out while pregnant. But let's assume you are given permission to workout ...
  2. Yes, you can continue running and weights while pregnant. But we need to be clear about a few things. As an elite athlete, your threshold of pain is higher than most which means you get hotter, work harder than most women. Because of this, you might get hotter and not even realize it.

    If/when pregnant, your baby is one degree Celsius higher than your own body temperature. Your own body temperature should not be higher than 101 F (or 38.3 Celsius). That is your INNER core temperature. So, Iris, I know this is icky but you must get a rectal thermometer. Yes, rectal. When you are about 20 or 30 minutes into your workout, stop, go to the bathroom and use the rectal thermometer. It should never read over 101 degree F.

    Here's why: Your baby cannot sweat and cannot cool him or herself so as your inner core temperature rises, your baby gets hotter and hotter. By checking your inner core temperature, we can ensure the safety of your baby!

    Drink plenty of water throughout your workouts to keep your body temperature down. And be sure to check your inner core temperature every 20+ minutes.

  3. Let's talk about your pelvic area. It typically takes up to two years to completely heal from childbirth -- in terms of some women feeling pain. As soon as you become pregnant again, your body instantly goes into action -- your ligaments and joints soften and move. It is entirely possible that you will feel this again and therefore, must be very careful. Stay away from the inner thigh exercises. You really don't need to focus on that. You can jog, use the treadmill and elliptical, use the kettle bells and weights for upper body but don't put too much pressure on your hips/joints/pelvic area by doing squats and inner thigh once you are pregnant. *And this is another reason we want you to talk to your doctor!

There are plenty of things we can offer you for your gluts that don't include squats and/or machines:
On the treadmill: Put the incline to a 10% incline. With 2 or 3 pound weights, go "hiking" on the intense incline. Not only will this work your cardio (and it will bring up your inner core temperature so we aware of how hot you are! Stop and check your inner core temperature), but it REALLY works your gluteus and upper hamstring.

Floor work: On your hands and knees:
1. bring your left knee to your chest and kick it straight out -- making sure the leg is hip level. 16 reps.
2. flex your foot so that you are pulling your toes back toward your body. Then, in a kicking motion, bring your left foot up toward your head -- shoulder level. 16 reps. (you will really feel the burn in your hips)
3. same leg -- bend the left leg and make clockwise circles with your leg. 16 reps.
4. same leg -- opposite direction. Make hip circles in a counterclockwise motion. 16 reps.

That was your left side ... now move to the right side and repeat. and finally, my favorite for pregnant ladies who want to work the gluts:
Get a chair and two kettle bells. With the back of the chair against a wall (so it can't slide away from you), you simply stand up and sit down, holding the weights in each hand. Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. Two minutes. Then, mix in the ABOVE workout on your hands and knees.

Round II: stand up, sit down .... two minutes. Followed with the floor work on your hands and knees.
Round III: repeat
Round IV: repeat
Round V: repeat.

This is a nice little workout to really work the gluts without putting undue strain on your pelvic area.

Also, let me know if you have access to a "hip flexer" machine. You can really isolate the glut on this machine and I loved it while I was pregnant and training.

Finally, in terms of preventing, it is truly a matter of building muscle and recovering. Your baby is just over a year old. You are "healing" right now. Continue your exercise program but once you get pregnant, as I said earlier, stay away from anything that strains it as it will already begin to soften due to the pregnancy. Please keep me posted as you train and let me know how things are going. And check your inner core temperature!

Good luck.
Alex