Pregnancy Workout Tips with Occupational Therapist Erica Kirkwood
A little while back, Occupational Therapist and Athlete Erica Kirkwood shared with us her physical fitness tips during pregnancy. Let's read through how she maintained her health, her fitness and her diet while going through the amazing journey of pregnancy!
Are you able to keep up a workout routine while pregnant? What does your workout schedule look like?
Yes! I have continued to train through this pregnancy however I have naturally decreased the intensity of my running program. I am 20 weeks now and have noticed that I just need a bit more recovery between speed sessions. Instead of my typical track Tuesday, tempo Thursday, & weekend long run type schedule I normally maintained as I trained for the US olympic marathon trials, I have dropped one of the speed days and now find myself alternating track/tempo workouts on a Wednesday and easy weekend long run with some speed thrown in there if I am feeling up for it.
What’s your favourite workout and did you have to adjust it for pregnancy?
Speed days are my favorite. I love to get on a track and do quick intervals. As mentioned earlier, I have cut down on the frequency in which I incorporate speed work into my training. Instead of 3 sessions, I will do 1 or maybe 2 depending on how I feel that week. I have noticed my running times have slowed some, but I am totally OK with that as long as I am still out there and able to move.
What workouts should you avoid when pregnant? And Why?
Most of the workouts you did prior to getting pregnant are typically OK to continue, however the general rule is to not start anything new. Running has been perfectly fine to maintain but one things I've personally avoided is trail running. Many of the trails I typically run on are highly technical and there is a greater chance of falling when your center of gravity has changed. It's not to say trail running is unsafe, you would certainly just need to be extra cautious.
What are your top 3 workouts during pregnancy and what are their benefits?
I highly recommend incorporating core strength workouts focusing on pelvic floor, transverse abdominal muscles, and deep muscles of the back in order to keep the pelvis stable. The trick is to learn how to co-contract these muscles when you are engaging in exercise and even during your day to do day activities. This core activation is not only beneficial for pregnant women, but for everyone! I go into further detail on how to ensure you are doing this exercise correctly on my instagram if you want more information feel free to check that out! Once you have mastered core activation, my top 3 exercises I do daily are glute bridge abduction, side lying clams, and the lunge matrix.
Do you have any nutrition/diet tips for pregnancy?
I follow a primarily plant based diet. I like to "eat the rainbow" and do my best to ensure I consume a variety of foods in order to obtain all the essential nutrients however there is literally no way to track every vitamin and mineral so taking prenatal supplements is a great way to ensure I am meeting the recommended requirements especially vitamin B12 and iron. In terms of how much to eat, there are guidelines in which indicate the importance of increasing calories as the pregnancy progresses and I emphasize this even more so if you maintain your workout routine. Nourish your baby and body! Don't limit yourself and definitely do not start any new diets. Eat when you are hungry. I personally find myself consuming more smaller meals as I get fuller quicker.
Are you offering any courses or training programs that our readers can look into?
I am an occupational therapist by trade with a passion for running. I specialize in holistic interventions addressing physical & cognitive deficits including roles, habits and routines impacting functional performance. I am also taking on clients and athletes who want to their health and fitness, specifically through running in order to meet their goals.
If you want to reach out to Erica follow or email her for some great tips. You can find her details here: