Pregnancy and AEQ method
Pregnancy may be the cause of significant changes in body posture and movement.
The center of body’s gravity shifts forward in the last months of pregnancy, causing an increased curve of the lower back (lumbar curve) and the pelvis to move forward. Furthermore, the tension in the back muscles increases, shoulders move back and the head forward due to the change in the center of gravity. This poor alignment of spine causes greater stress on lower part of the legs and feet as well.
Practicing AEQ exercises can significantly ease or even eliminate common pregnancy difficulties.
The change in the body’s center of gravity activates the green light reflex and the reflex syndrome remains even when a pregnant woman is standing, sitting or lying in bed. Somatic moves enable the control over the muscles of the back and abdomen; by relaxing these groups of muscles one can alleviate pressure on the spine and loosen up overstrained leg muscles, and so prevent the leg swelling and varicose veins. AEQ method helps preventing the loss of the body’s ability to relax the muscles. Body awareness and relaxation of the overstrained back and abdomen muscles make pregnancy and the childbirth notably easier as it increases the chances of baby settling in the right position before the delivery.
By practicing the AEQ exercises regularly a pregnant woman enables her muscles to stay relaxed during sleep and thus reduces the possibility of high-risk pregnancy, which is often times a result of too tight pelvic floor muscles. Relaxation is as important as the Kegel exercises. Pregnancy puts a lot of strain on the muscles of the abdomen and the pelvic floor, which may cause the sensory motor amnesia. The end result is a constant tension in the uterus area, possibly leading to a complicated childbirth (cervical dilation is obstructed, ’relaxation time’ between labor contractions is less evident). Better self-awareness and control over contractions and relaxation, both practiced during the pregnancy, make the childbirth easier and smoother and also reduce the risk of complications during the delivery.
The posture and body movement should be restored to the pre-birth condition after the delivery, namely postural adaptations and habits gained during the pregnancy usually remain and many new moms complain about the pain in the back, pelvis and feet. The body does in fact return to the normal state, however the sensory-motor part of the brain, which controls the body, does not. The posture is different than it was before the pregnancy – the back muscles are tense, shoulders pushed back, knees are bent and head tilted forward. New moms have lots of new responsibilities resulting in lack of time and diminished awareness of the movement; taking care of a newborn child usually deprives them of regular sleep hence increasing the tension and level of tiredness in the body. If we wish to avoid problems like hernia, scoliosis, sciatica… we’ll need to practice AEQ exercises on a regular basis in order to align the spine and reduce the side tilt caused by carrying the baby and to correct the movement patterns learned during a pregnancy.
Strong core, back pain and pregnancy
If we disturb the abdominal muscles in some way, would that lead to back pain? Pregnancy’s a very good test of that because you can imagine the amount of distention, and stretching that the abdominal muscles will undergo during the 9 months. And the post-partum period, from that stretched situation, then going to become completely lax the moment the baby’s born.
Under these circumstances the core muscles don’t exist. They are going to take about 4 to maybe 6 weeks before they begin to return to some kind of normality. So according to the strong core theory, we would expect pregnant women, women post-partum, to develop severe back problems. Even in a very large study, they took almost 850 pregnant women, and they looked at them immediately once they gave birth, and what they were assuming that all these women will have a lot of back pain, so they enrolled them on a core stability type of exercise regime. To their surprise, once they gave birth, 635 were excluded because their back pain from pregnancy improved within one week of delivery.
After delivery, when woman would be so physically active, and under a lot of stress, you just wonder how does the whole trunk holds together, the whole area of the lower back, the abdomen. Why doesn’t it just collapse on itself? But it doesn’t. It’s actually quite robust, and women can go through great physical challenges during the time, and without seemingly any kind of great injury.
It’s not strength and conditioning that makes us robust. Without enough sensory awareness and motor control from cortex we can’t function properly. Correct order of importance for fit human is: Awareness, Control, Strength, and Conditioning. If that order is not in place for longer period of time you get chronic pain and inefficiency of movement.
Aleš Ernst, teacher of AEQ method level 5