Stretching during pregnancy helps with postural alignment, muscle imbalances, low back pain, and overall muscle and joint health. Stretches should be performed when the muscles are warm, with caution in regards to overstretching. The hormone relaxin increases during pregnancy to allow the ribcage and pelvis to expand as baby grows. It also creates an environment where overstretching is easier, which can cause injury. So again, listen to your body. Relaxin can be produced up to six months after discontinuation of breastfeeding.
A steady strength training routine will help with some of the musculoskeletal issues you might have postpartum. Muscles are often tight because they have adaptively shortened due to a weakness somewhere else in the body or limited motion at a joint. Hence the reason for a comprehensive workout routine. Check out the Moms Into Fitness Studio for pregnancy and postnatal fitness programs.
A foam roller is great tool to use with the rapidly changing fascia. As long as you are comfortable in the positions and not putting your belly in the way of trauma, foam rolling is a great addition to a comprehensive routine.
You can use these stretches as a dynamic warm up by moving through each one for 20 – 30 seconds. Or use them as a static stretch, holding each position 20 – 30 seconds (this is best as part of a cool down).
90/90 RUNNERS LUNGE
Keep your balance with your knees at hip-width or wider. Bring your left knee forward so both knees are at a 90-degree angle. Lift the right arm overhead (option to add lateral flexion).
CAT TO COW
Start in a quadruped position. On an exhale slowly pull your navel towards your baby as you round your spine. As you inhale, release and lift your chin as you add a small arch in your back.
Start in a quadruped position, knees hip-width or wider. Slowly shift your weight into one hip, then the other.
WALK THE DOG
Place your hand and feet on the ground about 2 – 3 feet apart. Lift your hips so the back of your legs feel a slight stretch (down dog). Alternate placing one heel on the ground so you feel a light stretch in your calf. Switch sides.
MODIFIED HIP OPENER
Sit on one hip with both knees bent at 90-degree angle. Use your hands for support.
PIGEON HIP OPENER
Sit on one hip with both knees bent at 90-degree angle. Use your hands for support. Extend your back leg behind you with your hip facing forward and knee pointing down. Option to hinge forward at your hips using your hands for support.
Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Bring both knees above your hips one at a time. Slowly bring them to one side, then the other side, aiming to keep your elbows on the floor.
UPPER BODY STRETCH
With your knees wide, sit your hips onto your heels. With your weight on your heels, reach forward and to the corner of the room. Switch to the other corner.
Regular exercise during pregnancy is beneficial to both you and baby. Check out the Moms Into Fitness prenatal program for more cardio, strength, and flexibility, tailored just for pregnant mamas.