To all my pregnant ladies: This one's for you! Please keep in mind that every pregnancy is different. The following advice is meant to be a thought-starter, and theoretically could be easily implemented by those of you with issue-free pregnancies. But I advise you to check in with your OB or midwife before proceeding, just in case. (Oh, and...congrats on your bundle of joy!)
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but it can wreak havoc on your physical comfort. The baby essentially takes over your abdomen, pushing and pulling things (like organs) out of the way as it grows. The result? An off-balance center of gravity that can affect the way you sit, stand, sleep and move. Add to it a surge of hormones and an increase in blood flow, both of which can also change the way a pregnant body responds to activity, and you're bound to experience aches and pains not otherwise felt by your pre-baby body. Physical activity can help, of course. As do massages. But so can stretching.
Stretching during pregnancy is a very healthy, very good idea. (Unless, of course, you have restrictions placed upon you by your OB or midwife.) Not only will it keep your muscles loose and limber, it can alleviate some of the aforementioned aches and pains, which generally take form in the back, chest, abdomen and hips, specifically. Today, I'll walk you through five stretches that can (theoretically) relieve some of the tension in these areas.
Lesson: Proceed with the following slowly and steadily, and stretch only to the point of mild discomfort so as not to pull or tear anything. You've got enough going on, right? You don't need any pulls or tears adding to your pregnancy aches and pains.
Let's get started:
1) Standing Hamstring Stretch
2) Seated Hip/Glute Stretch
Theoretically, you can do this one standing up or sitting down on the floor, but I find that sitting in a chair or on a bench works just as well...and keeps the belly comfortable. Cross your leg like a dude, then gently push your knee down toward the floor to release tension in your hip/glute. This is a particularly good stretch if you're experiencing any sciatic pain.
3) Chest Stretch
4) Standing Cat Stretch
5) Side Stretch
There are, of course, a number of other stretches well-suited to a pregnant body. If you exercise regularly, you'll want to stretch all of your muscle groups, not just those affected by pregnancy specific growth and change. Again, keep in touch with your OB/midwife if any of those pains get unbearable and/or questionable.
With that I leave you:
Brief bumpdate: I'm on the twice-a-week plan with the OB now, which is making this journey all too real! Still feeling well, with minimal pregnancy pains myself. I ran a mile this morning, and walked another. Boy, that mile felt slow...but it was steady and I was grateful for it. And this baby, hot dang it's a mover just like it's sister! Another girl? We'll see!
Question: Pregnant or not, male or female, what is your all-time favorite stretch?