Stretching is one of the ways to stay active during pregnancy. As a result of added weight in their belly, pregnant women–especially those nearing their due dates–have limited movements. Most often, this causes muscle stiffness and uncomfortable pain–particularly in the lower back and legs. Pregnant women undergo various physical changes. Getting comfortable to all these changes will eventually lead to an easier pregnancy and labor, and faster post partum recovery.
Stretching exercises are basic exercises that are necessary in conditioning the muscles prior to a more strenuous exercise. For a pregnant woman, it is a great way to stay in shape while discovering new limits. It also helps in relaxing and easing stress. This can be beneficial to both the expecting mother and her baby.
Stretching exercises are easy to perform. Unlike other exercises that require equipments or trips to the gym, stretching exercises can be conveniently done anywhere. They can be easily incorporated in an individual’s routine. Here are some stretching exercises that may help a pregnant woman ease the discomforts associated with pregnancy.
1. Arm Stretch with Hip Bend
Slowly lift both arms upwards with palms facing up (as if pushing a heavy thing upward). Make sure that while doing this, the chest is out and the back is straight. Keep the elbows straight and bend slightly to the left. Hold the position for 5 seconds. Return to the original position prior to bending and bend slightly to the opposite direction. Hold for another 5 seconds and lower down both hands to the sides.
2. Neck Stretch
Bend the head forward with the chin touching the chest. Slowly rotate clockwise, feeling the neck muscles stretch. Take your time and complete one rotation in 15 seconds. When back in the starting position, slowly rotate counter clockwise and complete it within the same time frame.
3. Shoulder Stretch
This is a simple shoulder rotation that be easily done sitting down. With the back straight and arms relaxed, slowly rotate the shoulders by moving them upward, forward, downward and backward. Although it is a rotation, take time to stretch and make the rotation last. The suggested rotation time is 10 seconds. Repeat the same steps with rotation in the opposite direction.
4. Inner Thigh Stretch
Carefully sit down on the floor and put the feet together with the soles touching each other. With the back straight, gently aim to touch the knees to the floor by pushing gently on the thighs. To avoid injury, don’t overstretch.
5. Ankle and Calf Stretch
Sit on a chair with the legs straight and feet together. With the heel on the floor, point the toes forward and rotate clockwise using the feet and ankles. Take time to do the rotation, feeling the tug in the calves. Perform the same exercise while rotating counterclockwise.
For pregnant women, it is important to keep safety in mind when doing any exercise. An exercise that may be safe for one, may be harmful to another. A qualified health care provider will be able to recommend a safe exercise based on the assessment of an individual’s condition.