Knowing how to stretch safely during pregnancy can help keep your muscles toned and prepare you for delivery. These safe stretches can improve your muscle tone, relieve stress and body aches, and help you cool down after a workout.
Shoulder circles are a great way to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders, and they can also help improve and maintain your posture. You can perform them while standing or in a seated position.
To do shoulder circles, whether you’re seated or standing, square your shoulders and stack them over your hips, keeping your spine straight. Roll your shoulders up towards your ears, then allow them to drop. Do five to ten shoulder circles, then reverse the direction and do five to ten more.
To perform this gentle waist stretch, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees slightly for balance. Lift your arms to shoulder height and then extend them to the right side. Look left. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds while breathing deeply. Extend your arms to the left, look right and repeat.
To stretch your calves, stand about two feet from the wall and extend your arms (choose a spot where you know your feet won’t slide on the floor). Place your palms flat on the wall at about shoulder height. Lean forward, extending your feet behind you until you feel a stretch in your calves. Keep your heels pressed firmly to the floor, and hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds while breathing deeply.
For a deeper stretch in the calves, stretch one leg at a time. Bring the other leg forward, bending it at the knee. Lower your hips toward the floor to intensify the stretch in the calf. Remember to stretch both calves for an equal length of time.
This gentle twist releases tension in the muscles along the spine and helps maintain flexibility in the hips. Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Place your feet on the right side of your hips; you can cross the bottom toes over the top foot if you like.
With your left hand, grasp your left ankle. Inhale and extend your right arm straight up into the air. Exhale and twist to the right, keeping your spine straight. Allow your hips to move with the twist to protect your spine and abdomen.
Hold the twist for 20 to 30 seconds on each side while breathing deeply. To repeat, move your feet to the left side of your hips, grasp your right ankle with your right hand and twist to the left.
This standing stretch acts on the quadriceps, which is the muscle on the front of your thigh.
Stand near a wall or a piece of sturdy furniture that you can hold onto for balance. Stand on one foot; bend the other leg and grasp the foot. Pull that foot towards your buttocks until you feel a stretch in the front of the thigh; keep the bent knee pointed toward the floor. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds while breathing deeply.