Ante/Post Natal Pilates in Dublin

Keeping yourself in shape through pregnancy can be a big challenge. Two of the main bodily adjustments which occur during pregnancy include rapid weight gain and hormonal changes. Both of these adjustments for reasons explained below can have a negative impact on the neck, lower back, hips and pelvis. Ante/Post Natal Pilates is a safe form of exercise for pregnant women that is designed to help offset some of the undesirable effects which pregnancy has on the body. Its main aim is to strengthen the musculature that supports the neck, pelvis and lumbar regions. It has been shown to be of benefit in improving posture, lower back and neck pain, sacroiliac joint pain, incontinence, and recovery post pregnancy.

What are the Causes of Neck and Lower Back Pain during Pregnancy?

During and after pregnancy, women are at a greater risk of developing neck pain, lower back pain and pelvic pain. This is due to a number of reasons that are both physical and biological. Firstly, from a physical perspective, as the foetus grows there is increased loading on the lumbar spine and pelvis/hips. This can lead to increased pain as the joints in these areas have to withstand greater forces when going about daily tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, turning over in bed etc.

Secondly, during pregnancy the body undergoes several hormonal changes. One of the most influential hormones that the body produces at this time is called Relaxin. During the first trimester of pregnancy, additional levels of Relaxin are produced. Relaxin’s peak is reached during the first 14 weeks of the first trimester and (more importantly) around the time of delivery. Relaxin does what it says on the tin! It allows various structures in the body to relax and become more supple. Some of these structures include the big stabilising pelvic ligaments and the symphysis pubis. Due to the weight gain associated with a growing foetus and less stable joints resulting from hormonal changes pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing lower back, neck and pelvic girdle pain.

Finally, due to the growth of the foetus, the inner layer of abdominal muscles (called the Transverse Abdominus, TrA) become stretched and as a result weakened. The TrA is an important muscle as it wraps around our abdomen and attaches to the lumbar spine acting like a corset to provide support and stability. TrA activates as we initiate limb movements (i.e. walking, reaching to picking up objects from the floor etc.) to provide postural support to the lumbar spine. If this muscle weakens it leaves the pregnant woman at higher risk of developing Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Thoracic Pain, Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) and Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction (PSD).

Benefits of Ante/Post Natal Pilates

Ante/Post Natal Pilates is an ideal method of exercise to provide more support to the areas mentioned above. This method provides a gentle form of exercise that is carried out on a matt or in standing. It is a fantastic way to condition and strengthen muscles which will in turn provide support to the Spine and Pelvis. The principles behind Pilates is to engage and strengthen your core muscles (muscles around your stomach, waist and lower back) which will help to improve posture and prevent injury.

There is increasing evidence supporting the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, especially tailored exercises focused on activating the muscles which help protect the pelvis and spine and facilitate pelvic floor muscle function.

Pilates has been proven to benefit women in the ante and post natal periods in the following ways:

  • Strengthening of the gluteal (buttock) muscles which in turn promote lower back stability and pelvic stability.
  • Promoting awareness and correction of common postural problems and misalignments associated with pregnancy.
  • Promote mobility and strength of the mid-upper back (thoracic spine) which is an area that often gets stiff and weakened during pregnancy.
  • Facilitate function of the pelvic floor muscles through strengthening
  • Positive physical and psychological effects of exercise during this time

It is essential that if you are experiencing back pain during pregnancy that you get the right diagnoses and treatment. This is where a Chartered Physiotherapist can help! At Portobello Physiotherapy Clinic our Chartered Physiotherapists carry out a thorough assessment to ascertain the specific cause and nature of your pain. Based on our diagnoses we may deem that Ante/Post Natal Pilates is a suitable form of treatment for your pain. All our Ante/Post natal Pilates classes are run by Chartered Physiotherapists and we keep our numbers to a maximum of 8 to ensure that each member of the class receives the necessary attention. If you would like to book into a pilates class please call Portobello Physiotherapy at 01-476333 or email