Health / Pregnancy

How to Use an Exercise Ball During Pregnancy

Get a low-impact and beneficial workout with nothing but a ball.

You’ve likely seen a pregnant woman gently bouncing on an exercise ball (like these best sellers) as a way to facilitate labor, but those bouncy, oversized orbs are good for so much more than that.

Often found in hospital birthing centers, moms-to-be can use exercise balls to strengthen the legs, back, and core muscles—a particularly important area for pregnant women. In addition to that, these balls can aid in relaxation and physical relief from general pregnancy physical woes.

Aaptiv trainer and mom of one-year-old twins Rochelle Moncourtois has her clients use exercise balls, also called stability balls, at all stages of pregnancy build up and maintain core muscles, improve posture, and more.

So, we asked her and other pregnancy experts to break down exercise ball moves for pregnant women.

Exercise Ball Moves for Pregnant Women

Try these exercise ball moves for pregnant women to strengthen and stretch your full body. Before beginning, make sure you have the proper size ball like this one by URBNfit.

To test this, sit on the ball with your back straight. Look at your hips and knees; both should make right angles.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

Sit up tall on your ball. Relax your arms down by your sides or at a 90-degree angle, palms facing forward or up. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together, hold for five to 10 seconds and release. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps.

This move can help improve posture, which can help offset upper back pain caused by growing belly and breast size, Moncourtois says.

For more pregnancy ball moves and more, be sure to check out the Aaptiv app for workouts.

Shoulder press

Grab a set of dumbbells and sit tall on the ball. Bend your arms and lift them to shoulder height so that the weights are next to or in line with your face. Rotate your arms so your palms are facing out. Raise your arms all the way overhead, almost bringing the weights to touch at the top of the movement. Hold at the top for a beat before returning to starting position. That’s one rep. Aim for 10 to 15 reps.

“This will help build your upper body strength and core stability at the same time,” Moncourtois says.

Wall Squats

Stand a few feet away from a wall, back to the wall. Place the ball behind you, gently sandwiching it in between your back and the wall. Walk your feet out a few inches in front of you. Slowly squat down as if you were sliding your back down the wall. Lower to a comfortable level. Just make sure your knees don’t extend out past your toes. Hold the squat at the bottom for a few seconds. Press back up, engaging your thighs and glutes. That’s one rep. Perform 10 repetitions.

Denise Jagroo, DPT, WCS, MPT, a Manhattan-based board certified clinical specialist in women’s health physical therapy and co-author of “Your Best Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide to Easing the Aches, Pains, and Uncomfortable Side Effects During Each Stage of Your Pregnancy, likes this exercise for its thigh-strengthening effects, which will come in especially handy if you deliver your baby in a squatting position.

Transversus Abdominis Move

Sit tall on your ball. Contract your abdominal muscles and lift one foot a few inches off the floor. Hold it lifted for three seconds then place it back on the floor. Repeat with the other foot. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps. Don’t forget to breathe during this exercise!

Jagroo says this is a wonderful move for women interested in trying to prevent a diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles that commonly occurs during pregnancy.

Ready for Aaptiv’s maternity workout programs? Log into the app today and search for “maternity” to start one!

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