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10 BEST PREGNANCY STRETCHES

prenatal exercise
 

Best Pregnancy Stretches

Stretching during pregnancy can provide some benefits with relaxation but it is important to know that your muscles will become more supple due to hormone changes. Below I have listed 10 of the best pregnancy stretches you can do at home.

What are the Best Pregnancy Stretches?

But first, have a look at this short 4 minute video at the top of this page to get some great stretches.

There are certain stretches you can do during a prenatal workout but also I want you to be aware of stretches you need to avoid as your belly grows.

You should always conduct a thorough warm-up with light activity and movement and you should always stretch following exercise. To ensure you are getting the most benefit from your post-exercise stretching session, follow the tips below.

Stretching for Pregnant Women

When you are pregnant, including pregnancy safe stretching can offer many benefits. It contributes to helping you relaxed, fit as well as physically preparing you for labor. Also, stretching may help ease some of the aches and pains you might be experiencing.

What are some good stretches to do while pregnant?

Here are 5 you can do. I have more below in this post for you.

1. Seated piriformis stretch

The piriformis muscle is deep in the buttocks and when is it tight, it can irritate the sciatic nerve. This stretch can help decrease sciatic pain.

Sit on a chair with feet flat on the ground. If your right side is affected, put your right ankle on your right knee.

Keep your back straight.

Lean forward until you feel a stretch through your buttocks.

Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat again.

Muscles worked: spine, piriformis, glutes

2. Pigeon Pose Stretch

Get on your hands and knees on the floor. Slide your right knee forward so it's between your hands. Slide your left leg back, keeping your foot on the floor.

Place the rolled towel under your right hip. Lean forward over your right leg.

Slowly lower yourself toward the ground, putting a pillow under your head and arms for support.

Hold for 1 minute.

3. Hip Flexor Stretch

Kneel on the floor on your hands and knees. Step one foot in front of you. Your hip and knee are at a 90-degree angle.

Shift your weight forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your back hip and leg.

Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

4. Glute and hamstring foam rolling

Put your foam roller on the ground. Sit on the foam roller. You can support yourself with your hands behind you.

Cross one foot over the other knee into a 'figure 4' position. Slowly move your body back and forth over the foam roller until you find a tender spot.

Continue this movement over the sore area for 30 to 60 seconds. Slowly move over the foam roller until you find another tender area.

As in step 5, continue over the area for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on other side.

5. Table or Chair stretch

This stretch will help the muscles of the back, buttocks, and the back of the legs.

Stand facing a table with feet slightly wider than your hips. Lean forward with your hands on the table.

Keep your arms straight and your back flat.

Pull your hips away from the table until you feel a stretch in the lower back. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.

From guided weekly exercise workouts that only include safe pregnancy stretches, my online yoga classes, pelvic floor exercises to my innovative PregActive FIT workouts - my online program is for you!

The Benefits Of Stretching During Pregnancy

There are many specific poses that can be used to help alleviate common pregnancy discomforts such as back pain and hip pain.

Did you know that women who included pregnancy stretches into their weekly workouts have also been shown to experience less pain during labor, giving them a higher chance at a natural delivery.

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Tips for Stretching While Pregnant

1. Improve circulation

2. Prevent depression

3. Rid fatigue

4. Quiet the mind

5. Reduce insomnia

6. Improve digestion

7. Reduce pelvic and leg cramps

8. Ease ligament pain.

9. Ease and prevent muscle tension.

10. Sciatica back pain.

Which Stretches I Should Avoid when Pregnant?

During your second and third trimester I want you to avoid the following:

1. Any stretches that require you to lay on your stomach.

2. Stretches that place too much strain on your belly. As your uterus grows, your abdominal muscles will begin to separate and weaken.

3. Stretches that require you to lay on your back for an extended period of time as this position can reduce blood flow to your uterus and can cause low blood pressure.

4. Don't twist! Avoid all poses that involve excessive twisting as they put too much stress on your growing belly.

What is Relaxin?

Relaxin is a hormone that's present in the body and during pregnancy, levels of relaxin increase. This hormone helps the body relax the cervix and ligaments during delivery.

Relaxin lubricates and loosens your joints and ligaments of the pelvis, which can allow you to overstretch in activities like yoga. The problem with this when you are pregnant is that if you over-stretch you can cause injury.

The level that you stretch is to think about stretching slightly less that what you did before you were pregnant. Now is not the time to push too hard.

Quick Pregnancy Stretch for Back, Hips and Shoulders

Enjoy this quick pregnancy stretch for the shoulders, back and hips. It's nice and short and only 8 minutes long.

As a pregnant woman, stretching throughout your pregnancy can offer many benefits. It can help you stay fit, relaxed, and physically prepare you for labor.

Stretching for Pregnant Women

1. Frequency

Make it a habit to stretch after each workout or prenatal class as the more you include stretching in your daily workouts the greater flexibility and range of movement you will experience.

2. Hold Each Stretch for 30 seconds

Your goal with each stretch is to hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds as this will ensure you are getting maximum stretching benefits.

3. Learn to Relax when Stretching

You will achieve maximum flexibility benefits when you are relaxed. And there is no physical or mental tension to inhibit your range of movement and prevent your muscles from stretching as effectively.

4. Avoid Bouncing when Stretching

You should always avoid bouncing during stretching as it could overstretch the muscle and result in injury. Take your time with each stretch and gradually move your body or the limb being stretched into the stretch position.

Hold the stretch as soon as you feel slight tension in the muscle as this will be the limit of the muscle's flexibility.

From guided weekly exercise workouts that only include safe pregnancy stretches, my online yoga classes, pelvic floor exercises to my innovative PregActive FIT workouts - my online program is for you! Start with a FREE Trial >

5. Rest and Repeat for Maximum Gain

One repetition is beneficial, but performing several stretches for each muscle will help achieve maximum gain. This will take extra time but well worth it if you can make the time

6. Relax your breathing when Stretching

As you stretch maintain your breathing as this will contribute to allowing you to stretch further. If you hold your breath your body will tend to tighten and tense up will tense up thus making stretching much harder.

7. No Pain - No Gain - Should NOT be Your Motto

If you experience pain when stretching then you are pushing too hard or are using incorrect technique.

When you stretch you should experience a mild feeling of tension within the stretched muscle. If you push too hard and experience pain when stretching this will likely indicate injury or a muscle that has been overstretched.

8. Stretching at the Gym

If you are working out at the gym then you will often find a dedicated area with stretching mats. This area is a good place to warm down. Just in today's era of maintaining personal distance please make sure you are away from the personal next to you.

Also, a lot of gyms display stretches on posters. Not all of these are suitable when pregnant so don't go trying a new stretch unless you know it is recommended for pregnant women.

Pregnancy Safe Stretches

Here are some great stretches that will also help you if you experience sciatic pain during pregnancy which can be painful. Stretching can help relieve your sciatic pain by decreasing muscle tension and increasing movement in the hips, lower back, and legs.

Pregnancy Stretches You Can Do at Home

5 Best Pregnancy Stretches

1. Easy pose stretch

2. Cow pose stretch

3. Standing forward bend

4. Cat pose stretch

5. Warrior I, Virabhadrasana I

Can stretching while pregnant hurt the baby?

As I consistently mention, you should try and avoid abdominal stretches as they are not necessary or safe for pregnant women. You do not need to stretch your abdominal muscles as your growing baby is doing that for you.

Can I stretch my back while pregnant?

It is not recommended that you stretch or exercise on your back after 16 weeks. Back pain during pregnancy is a horrible thing to experience and there are some stretches that may be of benefit to you.

Please consult with your Physical Therapist first before doing any stretches on your back.

Can twisting hurt my baby?

There is the potential for certain twisting stretches or movements to strain your abdominal muscles. Your ab muscles are already compromised as the belly stretches to accommodate the growing uterus. These kinds of twists also limit the baby's space and can restrict blood flow to the uterus.

Gentle, open twists that do not compress the belly, or work too deeply into the lower spine are safe. The key is to include stretches that focus on mobilising the upper part of your spine. These stretches when performed correctly are beneficial during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

So, during pregnancy it's safe to practise twisting postures without compression.

Can I stretch my back while pregnant?

I include pregnancy stretches in each of my weekly workouts. But only those that are safe and effective when pregnant. Exercises for the back, such as this low back stretch, can help ease backaches. The stretches I have listed above will also help you safely stretch your lower back.

Can you massage lower back during pregnancy?

Before scheduling any prenatal massage I want you to speak to your doctor. For you, massage therapy for lower back, pelvic, or sciatic nerve pain in pregnancy may or may not be recommended based on your personal situation.

If you are approved to get a massage, please make sure you ONLY go to a therapist who specialises in pregnant women.

4 Prenatal Stretches Before Bed

Pregnant and tired? I want to share with you 4 prenatal stretches before bed. Girl, I get you. It was me too and the thought of doing much at all before bed made me create this short and sweet routine just before bed.

And get this.. it's ON bed.

Best done in pj's of course.

Your back will thank you. Your hips will love you that bit more. And hey (no promises) but you might sleep better too.

There's so much happening physically and mentally for you in every stage of pregnancy

And as you may be well aware, waking in the morning may not be as rejuvenating as it once was.

If you have tightness or soreness in your body, doing these stretches is a beautiful way to assist. In saying that - any pain in pregnancy is certainly something to get checked by your health care professional.

The mental and emotional load that often comes in the pregnancy journey is also big. So do give yourself five minutes before bed to unwind and focus on your breath and your baby is so helpful.

They may seem too simple to make a big difference, but trust me, they will. And as you go into your journey of motherhood you will realise that just a few minutes of 'me-time' will make the world of difference to your mood, health and overall wellbeing.

So hop into something comfy and follow along.

Oh and I have an even better one in my actual pregnancy exercise online program you can follow along. And a beautiful morning routine to start your day.. and so much more Yoga, Pilates, Meditation and Fitness sessions.

For every single week of pregnancy, guided and expertly designed to help you. I know you'll love it, so do yourself a favour and check it out!

Here are my top 4 Prenatal Stretches Before Bed

  1. Puppy pose
  2. Thread the needle
  3. Pigeon pose
  4. Child's pose

Let's dive into why these are my top four poses just before bed.

1. Prenatal Stretch 1

Puppy pose is do good to stretch out your back and shoulders, certainly two areas that get tight in pregnancy. You can always just keep the elbows on the bed rather than stretching the hands all the way out.

 

2. Prenatal Stretch 2

Thread the needle is the perfect rotational pose without compressing through the belly. You can always do a half rotation and not lower the shoulder down. Remember, listen to you and your body.

3. Prenatal Stretch 3

Pigeon Pose is such a great release for your glutes. In pregnancy your glutes work overtime to keep you upright as your belly grows. I'm yet to meet a pregnant woman that hasn't benefited from doing some nice glute stretches - especially before bed!

 

4. Prenatal Stretch 4

Childs pose, say no more - this is the ultimate rest pose. It's perfect to calm the mind and body. So sit back relax and enjoy. Don't stay too long that you fall asleep there though! Tuck yourself into bed straight after for what is hopefully a restful sleep!

As with any fitness goal -; or any goal at all really – it’s all about taking that first step.

Thinking you'll do it later will only delay you reaping the benefits.

So start tonight.

No equipment needed. Nothing but YOU and your bed.

You will thank yourself for it.
Takeaway

Stretching can provide you with some great benefits when pregnant. They can help you prepare for labor. But the big concern is to not over-do it and to know which stretches you must avoid.

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