In general, prenatal exercise benefits both the mother and the developing child. While it’s important to stay active during pregnancy, it’s equally crucial to be cautious and mindful of the activities you engage in. Bowling, a popular recreational sport, is one such activity that raises questions during pregnancy. Since bowling involves bending over and lifting a heavy bowling ball, a pregnant woman who enjoys the sport may be concerned about its safety.
Even though it is one of the low-impact exercises, it still requires you to lift somewhat heavy balls and balance yourself. If you want to avoid any discomfort or injuries while bowling during pregnancy, it is important to use correct body movements. This article addresses some of the most frequently asked questions about bowling while pregnant.
Is It Safe To Go Bowling During Pregnancy?
If bowling was already a regular part of your life before you got pregnant, you can enjoy it during pregnancy as well. It is a low-impact sport that poses minimal risk when the proper precautions are taken.
If you use a lighter bowling ball, wear proper footwear, and pay attention to your balance and body mechanics to reduce the risk of injuring your joints and lower back, bowling can be done safely during pregnancy. If you’ve never bowled before, talk to your OBGYN before you start this new practice.
Related Reading: Pregnancy Fitness: The Do’s and Don’ts of Cycling for Expecting Moms
Can Pregnancy Make Bowling Uncomfortable?
Bowling involves selecting a lane, choosing a bowling ball of the right weight, and positioning yourself at the starting line. When the pins at the end of the lane are in place, you must bowl properly by taking a few steps, bending down, and then letting go of the ball to knock the pins down. Bowling will get increasingly uncomfortable as your pregnancy goes on.
The following are some discomforts that a pregnant bowler might encounter:
- Pregnant women may need to rely on their backs for support while bowling due to the increasing size of their bellies. This can bring about back pain
- Because of the significant shift in hormones, the ligaments—the connective tissue that supports your joints—are more likely to become lax during pregnancy. This means that the joints can move around more freely, which increases the risk of injury
- This hormonal impact may exacerbate discomfort in the hips, pelvis, or back when coupled with the asymmetrical movements involved in bowling
- In the later trimesters, pregnant women will be carrying more weight in their front, particularly in the abdominal area. Bending down while bowling increases the likelihood of losing balance and falling
When Is It Not Safe To Bowl During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women can safely engage in this low-impact activity, but there are a few situations in which they should not go bowling:
1. If your pregnancy is high-risk
High-risk pregnancies often require more rest and caution1. Overexertion can result from even low-impact activities like bowling, which is typically not advised in high-risk pregnancies. For expectant mothers who have experienced miscarriages or complications like placenta previa or early labor, bowling is not advised.
Bowling puts pressure on the abdomen, which can be dangerous if you have a history of preterm labor or conditions like placenta previa.
2. If you have preexisting medical conditions
If you have an orthopedic condition (current or previously experienced back or neck injury) or any other preexisting medical conditions that can get worse with physical activity, bowling might not be safe for you.
Related Reading: 15 Pregnancy Tips For First-Time Moms
3. If your pregnancy is in its later stages
As you progress through the later stages of pregnancy, the additional weight and shifts in the center of gravity can increase the potential risks associated with bowling. Consulting your healthcare provider and paying attention to your body’s signals are crucial as you do bowling as the pregnancy progresses. This is important for both your safety and the well-being of your baby.
4. Being diagnosed with diastasis recti
Diastasis recti is a condition that many people experience during pregnancy and right after giving birth. Diastasis recti is a condition that occurs when the rectus abdominis muscles, commonly known as the six-pack ab muscles, separate due to the stretching that happens during pregnancy.
Separation can cause a protrusion or bulge in a person’s abdomen. Any activity that applies forceful pressure to your abdominal muscles can worsen the condition. For those with diastasis recti, bending forward is not recommended2.
5. Multiple pregnancies
Moderate to strenuous physical activities are not recommended3 during multiple pregnancies. Even though bowling is relatively safe for pregnant women, she may unwittingly engage in the sport for longer than she should.
As a result of constant movement, while playing, you are more likely to become exhausted and have other problems associated with it.
Benefits Of Bowling During Pregnancy
Exercising while pregnant is essential for lowering the risk of developing any complications during pregnancy, labor, or the postpartum period. Low-impact sports like bowling are beneficial during pregnancy for the following reasons:
1. Improve overall health
A sedentary lifestyle brings about many issues, like an increased likelihood of a C-section, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, excessive pregnancy weight gain, and postpartum weight retention4. Bowling is one of the most fun and effective ways for pregnant women to maintain an active lifestyle.
2. Helps to improve stamina
Bowling, like any physical activity, can potentially help improve stamina during pregnancy. Bowling is a low-impact sport, which means it doesn’t place excessive strain on your body. It is a great way to maintain your fitness level and increase your stamina and flexibility.
Because it places less stress on the joints than other forms of exercise, it may also alleviate some of the discomforts associated with pregnancy, such as joint pain and stiffness.
3. It aids in stress relief
Bowling is a great way to exercise not only your body but also your mind. It is one of the rare activities that the whole family can enjoy together. Some women experience increased anxiety during pregnancy. Bowling is a great way to help relieve stress.
4. It improves your mood
Pregnancy is a time when some women experience depression5. (source). Participating in bowling could uplift your spirits, elevate your mood, and enhance your mental health. Bowling reduces pregnancy mood swings and depression, which lowers the risk of postpartum depression and speeds up the healing process after giving birth.
Related Reading: Drinking Soda During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?
Bowling While Pregnant: Potential Risks
Bowling during pregnancy has certain drawbacks.
- Your body releases a hormone called “relaxin” during pregnancy, which makes your body parts relax. This applies to other body parts as well, such as your face or fingers, in addition to the body parts that will be most active during childbirth. Your grip weakens due to the relaxin hormone, causing you to drop things more often.
- Hormones during pregnancy can also cause you to lose your sense of balance. More often than you might think, bowling when your joints are loose can be risky, particularly if you have never done it before.
- Balance and coordination issues are not the only factors that increase the risk of falling during pregnancy. The bowling alley’s slippery surface may also increase the possibility of mishaps and falls.
Tips For Safe Bowling During Pregnancy
To ensure that bowling is safe during pregnancy, a few things need to be taken into account. Remember that bowling balls can be heavy, which can strain your elbows, shoulders, and lower back. Here are some ways to avoid injury.
1. Watch the weight of the bowling ball
The weight of the bowling ball is one important thing to take into account when bowling while pregnant. During pregnancy, it is strongly advised that you do not lift anything that weighs more than 20 pounds6.
Bowling with heavy balls can strain the back and stomach muscles. To avoid complications and injuries, pregnant women should avoid straining these muscles. Bowling balls vary in weight. Pregnant women can safely enjoy the benefits of bowling by selecting the lightest ball possible and maintaining good posture.
2. Be sure to drink plenty of water
When bowling while pregnant, it’s important to drink plenty of water. Take breaks and drink a lot of water to keep your body from getting dehydrated. Dehydration can make you feel uncomfortable and tired. This can affect your game and health.
Water should be consumed every 20 minutes during sports and other physical activities to maintain proper body temperature and hydration7. When you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so it is best to drink water before you feel thirsty.
Related Reading: 11 Healthy And Refreshing Juices During Pregnancy To Drink
3. Maintain good posture
Poor bowling posture can add unnecessary strain to a pregnant woman’s already strained lower back. This strain can impede the smooth progression of pregnancy. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you have proper posture during bowling to prevent needless injuries.
To do this, keep your head level, your shoulders loose, and your back straight. For extra support in your lower back, it’s also important to use your core muscles while you play. Bending your knees as you bowl will help take the strain off your back. Last but not least, avoid twisting your upper body and keep your upper body straight.
4. Avoid going bowling on an empty stomach
To maintain their energy levels throughout the day, pregnant women should eat small, frequent meals. Make sure you have eaten something before you hit the bowling alley as well. In addition to water, you can snack on an energy or protein bar during the breaks.
Related Reading: 11 Foods That Give You Energy While Pregnant
5. Stay warm
Most bowling alleys are air-conditioned. This can make you feel cold. So, when you go bowling, wear layers so you can remove them if you get too hot. It’s also a good idea to have a jacket or jumper with you in case you get cold.
6. Use a good pair of bowling shoes and a wristguard
It is important to wear appropriate bowling shoes that provide good support to prevent slips and falls. Pregnant women should make sure that their shoes fit properly. Avoid both tight and loose footwear. Ill-fitting shoes can cause discomfort and increase the risk of potential injuries.
Wrist and arm joints tend to loosen during pregnancy, so using wrist support can help alleviate some of the stress in those areas.
Related Reading: 9 Problems Lack Of Exercise During Pregnancy Can Cause
7. Always go bowling with a companion
Pregnant women are advised to bring a companion to the bowling alley due to the unpredictable nature of their bodies. Bowling with a companion who can help you if you start to feel lightheaded or dizzy is always a good idea. In the third trimester, this is especially important. If you need help getting the ball down from the shelf, don’t be shy about asking for it.
8. Some Dos and Don’ts while bowling during pregnancy
Before visiting a bowling alley while pregnant, keep in mind the following dos and don’ts:
- If you are feeling uneasy or exhausted, take a seat and rest. Overexertion is never a good idea, especially during pregnancy
- Pay attention to your body. Do not force your joints to do something that hurts them
- Lanes are oiled to help balls move faster. Do not cross the line onto a slick spot
- Try to find a lane that is near the restroom. Pregnant women often need to pee frequently. Getting a lane near the bathroom saves her from walking far
- Moving too quickly could knock you off balance because of your expanding belly and shifting center of gravity. Slowing down while bowling can prevent falls
Although there is not much risk associated with bowling and pregnancy, it is still advisable to see your doctor and get permission. Since every pregnancy is unique, the doctor should evaluate each patient’s specific circumstances, health, and medical history when deciding whether or not physical activities like bowling are appropriate. This way, your doctor can advise you on whether or not you should try out this low-impact sport. He or she will also brief you on precautions to take. If the right safety measures are taken, you can safely enjoy this game during pregnancy.
Although there is no direct link between bowling and miscarriage, the game’s risk of falling can lead to complications such as miscarriage.
Engaging in bowling during the first trimester of pregnancy is generally considered safe if you take precautions to prevent falls, use a lighter bowling ball, and listen to your body’s signals.