Balance During Pregnancy
Pregnancy & Postpartum Balance Changes
Several physiological responses to pregnancy diminish your body's ability to maintain adequate balance, and place you at higher risk for injury and falls.
During the latter part of pregnancy and the postpartum period, ligament laxity creates dynamic instability in joints. (For more information see the Physiological Changes during Pregnancy page of this web site.) The body's center of gravity is in a state of flux during pregnancy, slowly shifting up and forward as the uterus and baby grows. Because the body has no prior neuromuscular experience of it's new and evolving center point, it is inherently less coordinated and less adept at remaining in balance and/or righting itself as necessary. And lastly, because the area surrounding your center of gravity is larger and heavier, you will need to exert more effort to move efficiently.
A Time for Extra Caution
Because balance is compromised during pregnancy and through about six months postpartum (until the ligaments have returned to their former length), you should avoid all activities that increase the risk of falling, such as using a ladder, or hiking on steep or uneven terrain. Most trip-and-fall injuries occur when walking down stairs and stepping off curbs. (For more information on how to take precautions during this period of compromised balance, please see the Ankles, at the Common Pregnancy and Postpartum Discomforts page of this web site.)
Conditions that Place You at Higher Risk for Injury
You should be particularly vigilant if you have a history of ankle sprain or patella dislocation. These injuries put you at a significantly higher risk for falling in the last half of pregnancy and postpartum period.
To maintain good neuromuscular control and help prevent injury, regularly include simple balance exercises in your workout routine during and after pregnancy.
Simple Balance Exercise for Pregnancy
- Stand adjacent to a wall (wearing fitness shoes) with your left fingertips gently touching the surface of the wall.
- Step forward onto your right foot, bringing your left foot to your right ankle.
- Keep your fingertips lightly touching the wall until you have established good balance, then release contact.
- Stay balanced on your right foot for several seconds. If your ankle begins to wobble, bring your fingertips back onto the wall.
- Step backward onto your left foot, bringing your right foot to left ankle. Release contact with the wall.
- Stay balanced on the left foot for several seconds. Bring your fingertips back to the wall if needed.
- Turn around, place your right fingertips on the wall and repeat the entire sequence on the other side. (Step forward onto your left foot first.)
- After this balance sequence becomes easy, perform the exercise with bare feet.
- To increase the challenge, close your eyes while balancing.