While some pregnant women do yoga or go for walks outside, others don’t engage in physical activities. When you are having a baby, you should ideally not let exercising take a backseat. In fact, according to National Health Service, if you stay fit and active during pregnancy, it will be easier for you to adapt to your weight gain and cope with labour. Daily physical activities such as yoga, dancing and walking are highly recommended for as long as you feel comfortable. Some even suggest the duck walk, which is performed by assuming a low partial squatting position and slowly walking forwards. Even though it was popularised by rock ‘n’ roll guitarist Chuck Berry in the 1950s, duck walk is still done many fitness enthusiasts. But should pregnant women do duck walk?
To get you the answer, Health Shots connected with Kavita Singh, Physiotherapist and Lactation expert, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, New Delhi, East Delhi.
What is duck walk?
To explain simply, when you do the duck walk, you do look a duck! It might look a bit funny, but it is a good lower extremity exercise. It helps to strengthen and stretch muscles of the lower legs, says Singh. The duck walk exercise basically offers several benefits for your lower body strength, mobility and coordination. It mostly targets the quadriceps and buttocks. Performing this exercise regularly can help to strengthen these muscle groups, leading to improved leg and buttocks strength and muscle endurance.
The duck walk requires you to maintain a low squat position while moving, which can increase muscular endurance in the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. It challenges these muscles to sustain the squat position and perform to improve walking movement, mobility and flexibility.
Duck walk during pregnancy: Safe or not?
Pregnancy and child delivery are very physically demanding. You need a lot of strengthening and stretchability in the body. The expert says you can do duck walk during pregnancy, but it should be modified. Duck walk can help during the third trimester, which is after the 34th week of pregnancy. It is the time marked by the home stretch, as you get gear up for your baby’s birth. As the fetus continues to grow in size and weight, you may feel more uncomfortable and gain weight.
As for the modification, it is done so because during pregnancy, your body releases relaxin hormone. It helps to loosen the body and joints to make space for the baby. The duck walk can put pressure on the abdominal area, so it is modified during pregnancy. When you are carrying a baby, it is important to improve the tone and elasticity of the pelvic muscles. This helps to achieve good baby positioning in the pelvis, decrease the labour time and decrease the chances of labour induction. Duck walk exercise helps to do just that with hip opening and also strengthens the thigh muscles, leading to an easier birth experience.
Modified duck walk during pregnancy
To do the duck walk during pregnancy, follow these steps:
• Come to kneeling position. You can place a pillow under the knee for support.
• Place one feet on the ground so that your hip will open 90 degree and sideways.
• Try to touch your knees down.
• Start taking small baby steps forward and diagonal to your body. Make sure that your legs are wide and your feet are firmly touching the ground.
• Once you have completed 10 steps, you can take rest. Do this exercise as long as you have the strength and endurance to do it.
The expert says this exercise should ideally be done when your doctor tells you that your baby’s head is fixed in the pelvis. You can increase the number of counts, as you begin to gain strength. You may experience some muscle soreness on the subsequent day of exercising, but there is nothing to worry about.
Immediately stop doing duck walk if:
• You feel any pain in the vagina, pelvis or groin area.
• You feel abdominal discomfort or period-like pain.
• You experience shortness of breath.
• There is leakage or bleeding from your vagina.
• There is injury to your hip and spine.
You can include the duck walk in any prenatal exercise of your choice. But before you start doing this exercise, it is important to consult your doctor.