Bed Rest Q&A

What exercises can I do in bed?

A. One way to avoid complications of bed rest is to get moving. But the very word "exercise" often scares doctors -- and the high-risk women they treat, says Jean Irion, EdD, professor of physical therapy at the University of South Alabama, in Mobile. "Your goal is to maintain enough muscle conditioning that you won't injure yourself after the birth," she says. Here's what a physical therapist may do with you.

  • Help you navigate your own bed. The therapist may show you how to move, sit, or even get up (if that's allowed in your case) without using your abs or straining muscles.
  • Offer posture tips. It's likely you'll be reading, watching TV, and using a computer. The therapist can teach you proper "bed ergonomics" so you don't end up with extra aches and pains in your neck, back, and arms.
  • Work on energy-conservation skills. It doesn't seem like lying in bed or on the couch all day would be tiring, but it is. You'll learn how to move without putting more stress on your pregnancy, and without wasting energy.
  • Help you exercise. A therapist might move your arms and legs to work on your range of motion. She'll also focus on ankle work to get blood flowing and reduce the risk of a clot.

Originally published in the June 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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