PREGNANCY STRETCHING TECHNIQUES

After my last post, 5 Simple Pregnancy Exercises , I thought I’d share some great stretching techniques to help make sure your muscles are getting the proper recovery. Stretching during pregnancy helps protect your freedom of movement and prevent muscle injury; it’s important to keep your muscles and joints strong and flexible for a safe labor. Stretching can also relieve many of the common aches and pains associated with pregnancy, like low back pain.

Failing to stretch during pregnancy can reduce your joint range of motion (ROM). Not stretching makes your muscles grow short and tight, so that they function less efficiently. Here are a few stretches to try post workout.

FOR YOUR CORE:

Props: Yoga mat or towel

Cat/Cow Stretch

Start on all fours, hands underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips; keeping a neutral spine. (Think of the spine as a straight line connecting the tip of your head to your tailbone.) Inhale:  Drop your belly and lift your bottom to the sky and look up towards the ceiling. (Let the movement in the spine start from your tailbone, so that your neck is the last part to move.)  Exhale: Round your spine and drop your head. Take your gaze to your navel.

Repeat the cat-cow stretch on each inhale and exhale, matching the movement to your own breath.

Continue for 5-10 breaths, moving the whole spine. After your final exhale, come back to a neutral spine.

FOR YOUR ARMS:

Props: Wall

Bicep – Wall Stretch

Place the palm, inner elbow, and shoulder of your right arm against the wall. Keeping  your arm in contact with the wall, exhale and slowly turn your body around, to feel the stretch in your biceps and chest. Adjust the hand position either higher or lower and repeat to stretch the multiple biceps and chest muscles. Repeat this on the other side holding the positions for at least 10 seconds.

Hand Down Spine

Extend your right hand down the center of your back, fingers pointing downward. Use the left hand to grasp the right elbow. Exhale slowly, pulling gently downward on your elbow, aiming to take your fingers along your spine. Hold for 10 seconds, release and repeat 5 times on each side.

FOR YOUR BACK:

Standing Pike Stretch

While standing up straight, feet hip width apart, bend forward at the waist and reach towards the ground. Bend forward far enough to feel a comfortable stretch in the back and legs. Hold that position for 5 to 10 breaths and stand up slowly.

FOR YOUR SHOULDERS:

Front Crossover Stretch

Stand straight with legs placed at shoulder width distance. Raise your right arm and keeping it parallel to the floor, bring it across your chest slightly bent. Place your left hand on your right elbow, and pull the right arm further towards your chest. Hold in this position for about 20 seconds and perform 3 repetitions with each arm.

FOR YOUR QUADS:

Props:  sturdy chair or counter top

Standing Quad Stretch

Use a chair or counter for balance.  Bend your right knee and take your heel towards your bottom.  Keep your knees together and your back straight until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. (For a deeper stretch, tuck your hips under.)  Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times on each side.

FOR YOUR HAMSTRINGS:

Props:  sturdy chair or counter top

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Stand with your right leg just in front of the left.  Bend your left knee and lean forwards from the hips. Place your hands on the bent leg’s thigh, to balance yourself. (For extra support place your hands on the chair.) If you can’t feel a stretch, lean forwards more or tilt your pelvis forwards. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. Repeat regularly throughout the day.

FOR YOUR GLUTES:

Props: Yoga mat or towel

Pigeon Stretch

Sitting down on the ground, bend your right leg in front of your body. Reach the left leg long behind you (knee facing down).  Lean forward to increase the stretch in your glute muscle. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. Repeat this as many times as you wish (I like to do 3-5 on each side.)

FOR YOUR INNER THIGHS:

Leap Frog Stretch

Kneel down and place your elbows on the floor in front of you. Try to spread your knees as far apart as possible. If this position is uncomfortable, sit back into a child’s pose and widen your knees. Let your belly fall between your legs and onto the floor.

Pregnancy Stretching Techniques

By Stefanie Semaya Spitz