As your body adapts to pregnancy, it can experience aches and pains that you’d rather avoid. While this is all a natural part of the process, there’s no reason to be in any discomfort unnecessarily. We’ve found the top four of the most common pregnancy ailments and matched them to stretches that should help to tackle them.
Before you stretch it’s important to warm up your muscles gently by marching in place for 3-5 minutes. You can also do side-to-side steps to warm things up. When you’re ready to stretch, be sure to ease into each position slowly. When holding a stretch, focus on your breath and only hold a pose for as long as you feel it lengthening out your muscles. Relaxin is still at work right now and that can make you feel more flexible than usual. To avoid injury, only go to 80% of your usual stretching capacity. Lastly, make sure to stop immediately if you experience any kind of pain.
Back pain? Try the cat cow pose
As your bump grows your center of gravity shifts, and the weight of carrying your baby can put pressure on your posture and back. On top of that relaxin has loosened connective ligaments in your hips, which weakens your back support. Both of these things exacerbate back pain, and the cat cow pose can help.
On a yoga mat or comfortable surface get on your hands and knees so that your hands are stacked directly beneath your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips. Balance your weight between all four touch points and take a slow deep breath. As you exhale, let your spine relax into the cow pose – letting your hips spill forward and your back arch towards the ground. Raise your chin gently up to the sky. On your next inhale, arch your back up towards the sky and into cat pose. focus on feeling the stretch in both your upper and lower back. Continue for 5-10 breaths.
Swelling? Try raised ankle rotations
Extra fluid can build up in the body during pregnancy sometimes causing swelling. It can also create discomfort and pain in some cases. Swelling is often more common in your extremities and during pregnancy, it’s especially present in your feet. Elevating your legs and staying active can help and this simple stretch will do both things.
Sit on a couch or settee where you can stretch your legs out. Place a large pillow or two on the other end of the couch so you can lift your legs onto it so they are elevated. While inhaling, flex your foot towards your body as far as you can, and on your exhale point your foot away from you. Do this for 10 breaths and then switch to ankle rotations – first doing 10 clockwise rotations, and then 10 counter-clockwise rotations.
Tight hips? Try a low lunge or butterfly pose
Hormone-related joint looseness can cause your hips to feel tight or painful, particularly in your second trimester. This can make sitting for long periods of time or getting out of bed a chore. Combat this with a low lunge. Starting on all fours, put your left foot on the ground, with your knee directly over your ankle and your leg bent to a 90-degree position. Place your hands on your hips and gently stretch forward. Switch sides to make sure to balance everything out.
You can also try a butterfly pose – sitting upright on the ground with the soles of your feet together in front of you. Try to sit as straight as possible and lean forward slightly to help open your hips.
Stressed? Try resting in child’s pose
Feeling nervous, anxious or worried during pregnancy is normal, as your hormones are pushed into overdrive. Taking a moment to relax in child’s pose should help to center yourself and direct your focus to your body and breath.
Kneel down and drop your bottom towards your heels and push the rest of your body down towards your mat. You can rest your head on the floor, tuck your arms back by your hips or place them comfortably in front of you and keep your stomach comfortably on top of your thighs. Stay in this position for 5-10 good breaths.
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