5 Tips for Training Pregnant Women!
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Let’s be clear: First, the majority of pregnant women should not be doing planks during pregnancy. The reason is in part due to the altered core mechanics during pregnancy, but also simply because their core does not function properly.
Second, there are some women who have great core function who can do some version of planks without risk for diastasis or other core dysfunction. The reason is because the human body, even pregnant, is a resiliant amazing piece of machinery that has been built upon a foundation of strong inner core muscles. That is the great possiblity for our professional athletes and other functional athletic women. And that is important to know because there are indeed women do planks druing pregnancy and do not get diastasis.
As a prenatal fitness professional who is considering doing a plank, you would have to make sure that it is a version that is regressed enough that the woman can breathe easily through it and demonstrate a strong connection to her Core Breathing Belly Pump™ (CBBP). A progression could start with Quadruped, then go to Quadruped with limb lifts, then Quadruped “Beast” with both knees lifted in place. Then she could try a modified (hips in the air) plank on her knees, then see how her core breathing works when she lowers her hips a bit into the more classic plank position. Another option for a modified plank is placing forearms on a raised surface like a couch. In all of these regressions/progressions, the key is to make sure that her CBBP™ functions throughout.
There has been a history for adoption of blanket-statement rules in the fitness realm. As in the case of pregnant women avoiding planks, these rules sometimes have basis in validity. In the case of doing planks for Diastasis, it IS a good rule for the masses to “NOT do a plank” because most people will do it poorly, reinforce poor core mechanics, and actually aggravate their condition. But this same outcome occurs in both pregnant and non-pregnant populations. The main difference with pregnant women is that they are more prone to risking diastasis recti (although men can suffer diastasis as well).
There is an intention at Fit For Birth to really educate and expand awareness, rather than to simply follow blanket statements. Here are some reasons to remain thoughtful on this topic:
If you are in doubt of your ability to qualify whether or not the plank is too much, don’t do it with your clients. It’s not worth it when there are so many other exercises you can improve over the nine months. Work where you feel totally confident, always.
This is exactly why “Blanket-rules” are so problematic. The rule applies to many, but not all.
James Goodlatte is a Pre & Post Natal Holistic Health Coach whose passion is to heal families by inspiring the use of natural methods and by building a global team of fitness & health professionals to reduce infertility, avoid mechanized childbirth, and lower chronic disease in our infants. As the founder of Fit For Birth, Inc., he is a driving force for providing Continuing Education Credits for the Pre and Post Natal World. As a writer, his articles have been published in a dozen languages and have inspired contact from Pre & Post Natal women as well as health professionals in over 150 countries.