Your body is undergoing tremendous movement right now. Your hormones are relaxing your ligaments and connections so that everything can expand and release in order to make room for your growing baby.
But when you don’t stretch the muscles you’re trying to keep strong, they can become tighter still and cause more unnecessary pain you’re trying to be rid of. So after your workout, add these pregnancy stretching exercises to your list.
Pregnancy Stretching Exercises
Just a few pointers as you do any of these: go slow and breathe deep.
Taking your time will actually make your efforts beneficial. People who don’t hold a stretch for at least 30 seconds aren’t doing themselves any good. Plus, deep breathing while you stretch allows your muscles to relax easier, making your stretch deeper and more valuable.
This stretches your sides all the way down to your hips. As we sit and slump throughout our day, breathing becomes more difficult with a big belly and you feel like falling over from faintness and other weakness.
Keep your sides free from tension helps you hold yourself up better when your chair just isn’t good enough.
- Sitting on the floor, put both of your legs to one side with your knees bent and slightly tucked under you.
- Raising your opposite arm, reach over towards your legs in a circular motion over your head.
(So you know, I DID try to look pleasant while taking these pics. I always seem to have an irritated look whenever my face is relaxed. Plus, hurrying to beat the timer on my camera didn’t help either. 🙂 )
Then just repeat on the opposite side. You can even do this in a standing position, but I find I get a better stretch by sitting this way.
This one is excellent for your entire back and helping to release tension around your pelvis and even up around your shoulders.
- Starting on all fours, sit back on your lower legs and feet, keeping your head down.
- Then using your finger tips, crawl your hands forward on the floor, reaching farther so you get a better stretch through your back.
When your belly gets bigger, feel free to separate your knees as wide as you need. You don’t have to be fully sitting down on your feet either, just keeping your butt down and back as far as you can.
When you’re sitting tailor style, on your exercise ball, or in positions to help turn your posterior baby, your hips get very tight. Keeping them lengthened as much as possible reduces the chances of them pulling other connections around your uterus and pelvis forward.
- Starting on all fours, place one knee forward and in between your hands.
- Then slide your rear foot backward so that your crotch sits down towards the floor.
- Then shift your pelvis to the side away from your forward facing knee.
- Press your outer hip of the strait leg down towards the floor.
You’ll feel a stretch across the top of your hip bone and up into your abdominals on the side of your uterus. You can even lift your shoulders back and look up at the ceiling to increase the stretch just a little bit.
I do these every day because I’m sitting in front of a computer so much. You may find that one side is tighter than the other which is very common.
Your gluteus and backside are actually a very important part of your core and there are tons of muscles in there surrounding your hip connections and sitting bones. It’s not just all love handles and fluff. 🙂
You can stretch them two different ways. I prefer the back lying position because I get a better stretch. But when your belly is bigger like mine now, it’s just uncomfortable. So there’s an upright version instead.
- Laying down on your back, prop up your knees so that your knees are close to your bottom.
- Cross on leg over the other, resting your ankle on top of the opposite knee, forming a triangle shape.
- Reach through the middle of your legs and grab the back of your thigh just below your knee of the leg with its foot still on the floor.
- Pull your thigh backward so that you feel a stretch in the butt of your opposite leg that is propped up on your knee.
Relaxing your hips and lower back really helps you get a better stretch without pulling so much. You can even rotate your legs left to right while in the air to feel different pulls around the curvature of your bottom. Try on the other side and you may feel one side is tighter than the other again.
- Start on all fours again like you’re going to do the hip flexor stretch.
- Bring a knee forward, but instead of putting it between your hands, keep it directly behind your hand on the accompanying side.
- Then rotate your lower leg inward so that your calf muscle and foot are pointing towards your opposite side.
- Crawl your rear foot backward so you can sit down nearly on top of your butt and lower thigh that is touching the floor.
You’ll get a better stretch here if you keep your shoulders back and head up just like the hip flexor stretch. Your big belly will hang and sit just on the inside of the leg that is in front and won’t be squished. You can change how sharp the angle of your forward leg sits on the floor, and even rotate your pelvis from side to side in order to find the best
This opens up your groin and inner thigh muscles you work during squats and thigh presses. It can also release tension surrounding your pubic bone if you suffer from symphysis pubis dysfunction. (If you do have SPD, be very gentle with this stretch.)
- Sitting upright, bring your feet together in front of you.
- Let your knees and legs hang down toward the floor as much as possible. If they can’t touch the floor, slowly press them down with your hands and arms.
- If they easily touch the floor completely, bring your feet back toward your crotch as close as possible.
- If you still don’t get a good stretch up to now, place your hands on the floor behind you, keeping your shoulders back, and press your upper body forward.
This stretch no longer does anything for me because I’ve always been really flexible with it. I have to stretch my inner thighs with more of a straight leg stretch that’s next.
You can do these standing, but it pulls on your back more than desired from hanging down to reach for the floor.
- Sitting down, bring one foot in toward your crotch, while extending the other one out in front of you and to the side about 45 degrees.
- Keeping your hand on the side of the bent leg behind you, press against the floor to rotate your lower back forward, stretching the underside of your leg. You can reach forward with the arm adjacent the straight leg, but it causes you to curl your upper back, losing good posture.
- To incorporate your inner thighs and groin, lean towards the middle or more towards your bent leg instead of the straight leg. You’ll feel the stretch rotate inward around your thigh.
Remember to relax your thighs and hips as you do this and keep your shoulders back. Stretching this way will focus on your prime squatting muscles that support your entire back.
You’ve stretched all through the bottom of your legs, now it’s time for the top that feeds into your hip flexors and squatting strength.
- Lying on your side, bend your upper leg back and hold the top of your foot.
- Pressing your foot into your hand and pulling backward, you’ll feel your thigh stretch. Pulling farther backward reaches into your hip flexors from the bottom.
Relax the arm and leg that you’re laying on top of, keeping them bent a little so you’re better support and not so wobbly on your side.
This will rotate your entire back and reach many muscles that are deep into your core that we can’t reach very well individually. Do it slowly if you’ve never done it before or if you’re not used to being on your back as much.
- Laying on your back, bring one leg up and prop up your knee, placing your foot next to the knee of your straight leg.
- Spread your arms out to the sides in line with your shoulders.
- Rotate your lifted knee over the top of your straight leg, turning your entire leg and pelvis the opposite direction so that your bent knee is touching or nearly touching the floor.
- Keep your shoulders and arms as flat as possible against the floor without rotating them with your lower half.
When your belly gets bigger, it will be harder to touch the floor with your knee and keep both of your shoulders and arms against the floor. That’s okay! It’s the rotation you feel that is important.
You may even find that a few joints or vertebrae in your back will pop naturally from the motion. Natural chiropractic help at its best. Do this on both sides, keeping relaxed as much as possible so your trunk can rotate easily.
Foam Roller *Bonus*
If you don’t have a foam roller, that’s okay and you don’t need to worry about this one. I just recommend it, especially if you don’t visit a chiropractor regularly to help keep your pelvis and tailbones aligned properly.
The point of resting body parts on a stiff foam roller is to help press knots out of muscles and ligaments. Stretching doesn’t always do that, where a foam roller can.
- Start laying down on your back with your knees propped up, having your foam roller handing in grabbing distance.
- Slide the foam roller between your butt and feet so that you can easily move it into position.
- Thrust your pelvis upward so that your butt is lifted off of the floor. Then grab the foam roller and roll it backward until it’s sitting evenly underneath your lower back or pelvis.
- Lift your feet up off of the ground and cross them in the air above you so that all of your weight is pressed into that foam roller.
- Rock back and forth against it so it can press out knots or misalignments gently.
- When you want to move it down lower to cover your tail bones, put your hands up above your shoulders against the floor, then lift your shoulders up this way with your arms instead of your abs. This way you can scoot forward or backward adjusting where you sit on the foam roller.
If you’ve never used of these before it can’t hurt a little. What’s happening is that the pressure against the knots and tension in your muscles forces them to release, much like a massage would do when your masseuse digs at knots in your back.
If you find a tender spot, stay there longer so that the tension can release with help from your deep breathing. The more you use one, the less often you’ll have tender spots that need releasing.
I know you’ve all experienced those ligament pains at some time or another during your pregnancies. It’s those shooting sudden pains that come from nowhere around your pelvis and back, or when you’re moving a certain way that your body doesn’t like.
Combining a good routine of stretching after your exercising will prevent that for the most part. If you still have any sort of pain after exercising, take a step back and be gentle on yourself the next few days. Apply ice and alternate with warm compresses on troublesome areas if needed.
If you’re having excess pain that can’t be relieved after a few days, work with your doctor to see if further care is needed. Or you can get more support through a belly band.
Any yoga mamas out there that have other great stretching ideas you can share? Best to you.