Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pregnancy Back Saver: Cat Cow Pose

I took Bradley Method classes when I was pregnant with Lila. (Side note: if you're in the Southern Utah area and interested in Bradley, call Trisha Baird. She's amazing. And she's not paying me to say this, I just like her that much.) In the very first class, you learn a few exercises that you're instructed to do two to three times every single day to help prepare your body for labor. At first, the multiple-times-every-day thing seemed a little excessive. But soon, I realized that the exercises--particularly the cat-cow or the "pelvic rock," as Bradley calls the exercise--were saving my back. I had major sciatic pain with Lila and found that when I neglected to do my daily cat-cow exercises, the sciatic pain was much worse.

I can't describe the cat-cow effectively in words, so here is a picture diagram of the stretch.

Fig 1 shows neutral position. Fig. 2 shows the "cow" position. Fig. 3 shows the "cat" position. And Fig. 4 goes back to neutral.

If pictures alone don't help, you can see a video of the stretch here.

I did the cat-cow three times a day, ten reps each time for the first few weeks, and gradually built to twenty reps each time I did the stretch. If my back was particularly sore during the day, I'd throw in an extra cat-cow session.

The cat-cow is a traditional yoga pose. I found that prenatal yoga really helped me during pregnancy, especially if I was particularly sore. Many areas offer prenatal yoga classes, but because I had the boys I didn't really have time to make it to an exercise class. I usually watched a program that was broadcast on TV and did the exercises right in my living room. If you'd like to do other prenatal yoga exercises, you can check out my favorite prenatal yoga exercise program here. This show has several fantastic yoga workouts, but includes other types of exercise, too (like aerobics and kickboxing). And, while the program is not prenatal only, there is almost always a pregnant woman showing how to modify the exercises for pregnancy.