Pregnancy and Postpartum Stretches
by Massage Therapist, Alanna Kinsman
As pregnancy progresses, it is important to note that your posture shifts to redistribute the weight of your growing baby. This usually results in tightness in the lower back, neck and chest. If you are experiencing any pain, stiffness or discomfort, stretching can help alleviate pain during pregnancy and improve your range of motion. This means a smoother and more comfortable pregnancy. Stretching daily can help lengthen your muscles and loosen your entire body. This will make you more comfortable, especially while you're pregnant.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable or sore, doing these stretches daily can help alleviate your symptoms during pregnancy.
Half Moon Pose
Interlace fingers pointing the index finger up ahead, press the feet into the floor, reach the fingers and crown up while relaxing the shoulders back and down. Keep legs and buttocks engaged while reaching up through fingers and crown. Inhale reaching high, exhaling increasing your side bending.
This opens up muscles along the sides of the body and improves core strength.
Lie on your back with your legs extended. On an exhalation draw knees to your chest and clasp your hands around them.
Aids in managing low back pain symptoms.
Lie on your back, bend your knees and put the soles of your feet on the floor, knees pointing up towards the ceiling. Drop your legs to the right and breathe into the low back. Move back to neutral followed by dropping your legs to the left.
Lumbar Twist Stretch
Start by lying on your back. Draw your knees in toward your chest and let your left leg fall back down. Draw your right arm out palm facing down, place your left hand on the outside of your right knee, exhaling drop your right knee over the left side of your body.
Stretches back and glutes. Lengthens, relaxes and re-aligns the spine.
Lying on your back, with both knees bent, place your feet on the floor hip width apart. Lift your hips, inhaling, rolling your spine off the floor. Press down your arms and shoulders to lift your chest up. Breathe, holding for up to 8 breath cycles.
Strengthens chest, neck, spine and hips. Improves digestion, calms nervous system.
Starting on hands and knees, bring your knee forward behind your wrist on the same side. Slide your opposite leg back straightening the knee and pointing your toes. Draw your legs in toward each other to help your hips square.
Opens the hip joint, lengthens the hip flexor.
Reclined Hero Position
Seated with your legs tucked under your body, exhale, lowering your back and torso towards the floor. Use your hands to move your front ribs down slightly and lift your pubis toward your navel. This should help lengthen your lower back and lower it toward the floor. Lay your arms and hands on the floor at 45 degrees palms facing up. Try to avoid splaying your knees wider than your hips, this can cause a strain on the lower back and hips. Lay into this pose for up to 3 minutes.
Stretches thighs, knees, ankles, abdomen, and deep hip flexors. Helps relieve tired legs and improves digestion.
During pregnancy and postpartum, it is important to keep a relatively relaxed diaphragm with a deep diaphragmatic breathing technique. This technique it focused on taking intentional deep breaths into your belly watching it rise and fall. It is best to do this technique before falling asleep as it can have a deep relaxation effect on the body. After birth giving your body an adequate amount of time to rest is important before jumping back into physical activity. Avoid jumping activities up to 6 weeks post delivery, as your body needs this time to heal.
Avoid sit up motions after delivery as it can push all your abdominal organs and viscera that have been stretched from pregnancy downward. Instead focus on lower limb strengthening with active resistance while lying on your back against your engaged core muscles. Avoid lifting your mid to upper back in these exercises. Lift your neck to engage your upper abdomen, keeping your core engaged (abdomen tucked) and using an active resistance on your lower limb.
Tip: you can do 15 reps of active resistance per session 3 times a day. This is especially good in cases of diastasis recti where the abdominal muscle down the center of your abdomen weakens and separates.