Stretching during pregnancy is as important and helpful as the cardio and strength training. Stretching is most useful in treating and relieving problems related to back pain. As per the experts, expectant mothers should regularly perform stretches after the warm up session. Therefore, try to include stretches as a crucial part of your exercising regime. Pregnancy stretching exercises not only improve your flexibility, make your muscles loose, and relieve pregnancy pains and aches but also enhance your body’s range of motion and prepare you for your journey throughout the pregnancy and even after that. Let us discuss some of the best pregnancy stretches and tips for safe stretching during pregnancy.
Safety Tips for Stretching While Pregnant
- Try to move and change positions slowly and gently. You need to know that your joints and ligaments are more relaxed when you are pregnant.
- Your muscles need time to relax. Therefore, try to hold each stretch for at least 10 to 30 seconds.
- Do not bounce or force a stretch.
- If you are in pain or feel uncomfortable, you should immediately stop stretching.
- Make use of your breath. Ensure that you exhale when you stretch and inhale as you return to the start position.
- Continue to breathe slowly and deeply when you are holding a stretch.Try to deepen your stretch gently every time you exhale.
- Avoid doing stretches that require you to lie flat on your back after the first trimester. This particular position can reduce the blood flow to your brain and uterus and can cause low blood pressure and lightheadedness. If you are performing any stretch that needs you to lie down, try using a wedge or pillows to prop up your upper body.
- While standing or seated, rotate your shoulders backwards and down. Make as large a circle you can. This helps in opening the chest and counteracting the rounded shoulders, a symptom most common among the pregnant women. Practice this for a total of three to four repetitions (reps).
- Stand between two walls or a doorway and place both your hands at a shoulder height with your elbows slightly bent on either side of the doorway. Slowly step your right foot forward until you start feeling a stretch in the chest muscles. Hold it for 20-30 seconds.
- Do the same with other feet. You can practice a total of one or two reps per side a few times in a day.
- Stand at a distance of about 2 feet from a wall. Extend your arms in front of your shoulders and keep your feet at the shoulder width.
- Press your hands to the wall and try to slowly lean forward. Bend your elbows as you tilt your body.
- Keep your heels on the floor so that you feel a stretch on your calf muscles. Hold the position for 10 seconds. Slowly push yourself away from the wall.
Thigh and Hip Flexors
- Place a pillow below your head and lie on your left side. Bend your left leg to attain stability.
- Bend your right leg and try to move your foot toward your bottom in such a way so that you can hold your right ankle.
- Try to pull your heel closer to your bottom and draw in your abdominals in order to support your lower back. You are likely to feel a stretch in the thigh and hip flexors.
- Hold it for 30 seconds. Release and come back to the starting position. Now switch side by lying on your right side. Practice the stretch two reps per side. Thepregnancy hip stretcheshelp in relieving discomfort related to sciatica.
Stretching Exercises to Relieve Back Pain during Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, your body undergoes various changes. Back pain during pregnancy is one of the most common complaints that expectant mothers make. Pregnancy stretching and exercising is the best and simplest way to gain comfort and keep your body active.
- Pelvic Tilts (for abdominal muscles): Lie on your back with your knees bent and the feet resting on the floor. Place your hand in the slight of your back. You are most likely to feel a gap between your back and the floor. Try to flatten your lower spine against the floor so that there is no space. The hips should be relaxed as to isolate the abdominals. You can perform a pelvic tilt while lying on your back, standing, sitting, or on your hands and knees.
- Arm and Leg Raises (for back muscles and buttock):Kneel down on your knees and hands with a straight spine. Keep your pelvis stable by doing a pelvic tilt. Slowly lift your right arm and left leg to make a straight line with your spine. Hold this position for a while and lower your leg and arm. Alternately, lift the opposite leg and arm.
- Neck Stretch: You can perform this stretch standing or sitting. Bring your head forward and tip left side. With your left hand, reach up behind your head and try to give a gentle pull. Turn your head as you pull. Switch the side.
- Hamstring Stretch:Stand in front of a chair and place one foot up on it, keeping both feet and hips facing forward. Make sure your back is straight. Try to lean forward from your hips so that you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.
No doubt, pregnancy stretching exercises are helpful in alleviating different aches and promote a comfortable pregnancy.However, you should keep in mind that you should not overdo it. It is very important for you to discuss your symptoms and complications with your health care provider. Based on that, he can ensure an appropriate workout regimen and inform you about the guidelines and restrictions you need to consider.