Stretching can offer several benefits during pregnancy. It can help you stay fit and relaxed and prepare you for labour. Adding these exercises to your daily routine can help relieve some of the aches and pains you might be experiencing.
Back Stretching Exercises During Pregnancy
Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana to Bitilasana)
Cat and cow pose helps to strengthen muscles and keep the lower back and abdomen flexible. It can also relieve tension, improve spinal mobility, and promote blood circulation. Cat and cow stretching exercise during pregnancy is an effective way to stretch your neck, shoulders, and torso.
- Begin on all fours. Keep your hands and shoulders width apart and knees hip-width apart.
- Inhale as you lower your belly, arch your spine, and look up.
- Exhale as you draw your chin to the chest and upward your arch spine.
- Continue this flow for up to one minute.
You can even use a folded blanket under your knees to cushion them.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
The child’s pose is an excellent exercise for back pain during pregnancy. It stretches your lower back, chest, and shoulders and improves spine, hip, and thigh flexibility.
- Begin on all fours.
- Spread your knees and bring your big toes together.
- Lower your hips back onto your heels.
- Put your arms out in front of you.
- Deeply inhale.
- Hold this pose for up to one minute.
You can place a cushion or folded blanket under your forehead for support. Also, if you need more space for your belly or have knee pain, widen your toes.
Modified Half Pigeon Pose
This pose is helpful for women who suffer from lower back pain.
During pregnancy, a modified pigeon pose can help to relax the piriformis muscle, a small muscle in the glutes. Stretching this muscle can relieve tightness and pain.
- Sit on a chair.
- Place your feet flat on the ground.
- Cross one foot over the other knee to form the shape “4”.
- Exhale slowly and lean forward, keeping your back flat until you feel a stretch in your lower back and buttocks.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on another side.
Hip Stretching Exercises During Pregnancy
Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
This stretching exercise during pregnancy help lengthens the spine, opens the hips, and improves mental clarity.
- Sit on the edge of a cushion or folded blanket, allowing your pelvis to tilt forward.
- Cross your legs comfortably with either the right or left leg in the front.
- Keep your hand in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
- Breathe deeply and hold your breath for up to one minute.
- Exhale and repeat.
Practise with your back against the wall to support your spine. You can even place cushions or blankets under your knees if you do the pose for an extended period, especially while meditating.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
The bridge pose stretches your hip flexors gently. It can also help you strengthen your lower back, abs, and glutes. It also helps to relieve hip and lower back pain.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart. Maintain straight arms alongside your body and, if possible, bend your legs so fingers can graze the backs of your heels.
- Lift your hips as you inhale, feeling your glutes activate and making sure your knees do not bow out.
- Hold for a few counts.
- Roll your spine back onto the ground as you exhale.
- Repeat the exercise ten times.
Place a block between your inner thighs so you can squeeze. This squeezing in toward the midline helps activate the thighs’ stabilisers and support pose alignment.
Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
The butterfly pose promotes blood circulation, stimulates the digestive system, and relaxes the muscles. It prepares your body for labour by increasing flexibility in your low back, hips, and inner thighs.
- Sit on the edge of a cushion or folded blanket.
- Put your feet together and press your soles together.
- Bring your feet in toward your hips to deepen the stretch.
- Lengthen your spine.
- Place hands on your ankles or shins.
- Hold the pose for up to a minute and repeat it 2-4 times.
You can practise the pose with your back to the wall and cushions under your knees or thighs for support.
Garland pose (Malasana)
This deep squat opens the hips and improves digestion. It also prepares you for labour and delivery.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips and your toes pointed outward.
- Bend your knees and lower your hips slowly.
- Lift or place your heels on the floor.
- Bring your palms together in the centre of your chest.
- Press elbows into knees.
- Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.
You can sit against a wall or on a block or stack of cushions for support. Avoid garland pose if you are prone to prolapse.
This pose is helpful for people who have tight hip flexors, the muscles that run along the front of your hip. These muscles often become tight during pregnancy due to changes in pelvic position.
- Begin by kneeling on the ground.
- Step forward with one foot until your front knee and hip are at 90-degree angles.
- Exhale slowly and lean forward, putting weight on your front leg.
- Rotate your back hip forward until you feel a stretch down the front of your hip and thigh.
- Maintain the pose for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
You can use a pillow under your knees for comfort. If necessary, grab a wall or a chair for support while doing the pose.
Legs Stretching Exercises During Pregnancy
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Standing forward bend pose strengthens the thighs and knees. It helps to keep your spine strong and flexible. This pose also relieves tension and promotes inner calm.
- Position your feet slightly wider than your hips.
- Hinge at the hips to fold forward.
- Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Place your hands on the floor or a block.
- Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.
You can practise the pose in front of a wall for support.
Downward Dog Pose (Adho mukha svanasana)
The downward dog pose is an excellent way to stretch your entire back from head to toe. It is also known as a gentle inversion because the head is lower than the heart and the heart is lower than the hips, allowing oxygenated blood to reach the brain.
- Start on all fours. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart.
- Keep your hands in front of your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips.
- Turn your toes under and spread your palms, rooting down through all four corners of your hands. Your body should resemble an upside-down “V” shape.
- Pull your pelvis up toward the ceiling, using your upper arm triceps to help stabilise your form.
- Hold your position for a minute and breathe normally.
- Exhale and bend your knees slowly to lower yourself into Child’s Pose.
You can skip this pose if you have nausea, heartburn, or wrist pain.
Stretching exercises during pregnancy can be a beneficial addition to your self-care routine. Listen to your body and rest whenever you want a break.
Consult a doctor before starting these stretching exercises, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy, medical concerns, or are new to fitness.
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