Updated: Apr 7, 2020
A quick word to the wise before I begin – stretching is highly dependent on you and where you are in your pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, you will naturally develop laxity in your joints. Laxity just means there is a lot more looseness in your joints than normal, to accommodate your growing body. Because of this additional looseness, you don’t want to overdo it with stretching as it can do more harm than good, especially the further along you are in your pregnancy. If you’re in the last trimester, I’d skip the stretching and stick to foam rolling. However, if you’re still early in your pregnancy, a good stretching session can do you a world of good!
Below are some stretches to give you some relief from your aches and pains today:
1. Pigeon (hip stretch)
TIP: Hold each stretch for 30-45 seconds on each side unless otherwise specified.
Kneel on the ground, then bring one leg forward, placing the outside of your thigh against the ground. Slowly, stretch your back leg straight out behind you. Sit up as straight as you can, feeling the stretch through your inner thigh and hip. If you want more of a stretch, lean your torso forward onto your elbows or all the way onto the ground.
2. Cat/Cow (back stretch)
Come down onto all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Breathe out as you curve your back up towards the sky, tucking your head in between your arms. Breathe in and come back to neutral spine. Breathe out, going the opposite direction, raising your face up towards the sky and pushing your belly towards the ground. Knees, hips, shoulders, and wrists should all stay in the same position – only the middle part of your body is moving. Repeat this motion 5-8 times in each direction.
3. Kneeling Hip (hip flexor/quad stretch)
From a kneeling position, bring one leg in front of you, foot flat on the ground and your knee behind your ankle. Place your hands on your hips (or a coffee table or couch to help stabilize you) and push your hips forward until your knee is right over your ankle. Hold for 10 seconds, release back and repeat 3 times on each side.
4. Straddle Stretch (hamstring stretch)
Sit on the floor with your legs straddled out in front of you. Reach your left hand towards your left foot. Go as far as is comfortable, but where you can still feel a stretch. For an added stretch, reach your right hand towards your left foot as well. To add a side stretch, reach your left hand towards your left foot, turn your face and chest up and reach your right arm up and over your head. Repeat everything on the right side.
5. Spinal Twist (shoulder/back stretch)
Sit cross-legged on the floor. Put your right hand on the floor at the base of your spine, placing your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Slowly turn and look backwards as far as you can, gently pushing against your right knee for an added stretch. Keep your spine long and tall and your chin up. Take five deep breaths in and out trying to look a little bit farther behind you with each breath out. Repeat on the left side.
As a follow up, here are a few things I DON’T want you to do:
DON’T stretch without warming up first!
Stretching cold muscles can cause injury! It’s like trying to stretch a cold rubber band.
This doesn’t have to be an official workout warm-up but move around a bit before you start stretching.
Bouncing can also cause injury! Moving forward and backwards quickly can cause hyperextension or a pulled muscle.
Sometimes you’ll see people bouncing, trying to get further in their stretch – please don’t do this!!
Lean into your stretch until you feel a little tug in your muscles and hold it there
Regular stretching can help improve your flexibility!
Do some stretching every day. You’ll find you’re less sore and have better range of motion throughout all your activities in the day