Great pregnancy exercise: Stretching

Great pregnancy exercise: Stretching

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The benefits of stretching during pregnancy

Stretching makes you more flexible, keeps your muscles loose, and eases pregnancy aches and pains. Stretching also enhances your body's range of motion, which can prepare you for the rigors of childbirth. And it's a healthy way to relax and release stress.

You can stretch every day if you like. Use the following exercises before a workout to warm up, or afterward as your cool-down routine.

Tips for safe stretching during pregnancy

  • Move slowly and gently – your joints and ligaments are more relaxed during pregnancy.
  • Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. Your muscles need time to relax.
  • Don't bounce or force a stretch.
  • Stop stretching if you're uncomfortable or in pain.
  • Use your breath, exhaling as you stretch and inhaling as you return to your start position.
  • When holding a stretch, continue breathing deeply and slowly. Each time you exhale, gently deepen your stretch.
  • After the first trimester, avoid doing stretches while lying flat on your back. This position can reduce blood flow to your uterus and cause abnormally low blood pressure and lightheadedness. Use a wedge or pillows to prop up your upper body during stretches that require you to lie down.

Shoulder circles

  • While seated or standing, rotate your shoulders backward and down in the largest circle you can make. This opens the chest, counteracting the rounded shoulders that are common among pregnant women.

Total number of repetitions (reps): three or four.

Chest stretch

  • Standing in a doorway, place both hands at shoulder height on either side of the doorway, with your elbows bent. Step your right foot forward until you feel a slight stretch in the chest muscles (being careful not to stretch too much). Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Switch feet, stepping your left foot forward. Hold for 30 seconds.

Total number of reps: one or two per side, several times a day.


  • Stand with your back leaning against a wall and your feet about shoulder-width apart (a comfortable distance from the wall), with knees slightly bent. Inhale.
  • As you exhale, draw in your abdominal muscles, moving your chin toward your chest as you roll your torso down one vertebra at a time. Roll forward as far down as you're comfortable going.
  • Keep your weight centered between your feet, and let your hands hang in front of you.
  • Inhale at the bottom of the roll-down, and as you exhale, roll back up as if you were trying to "print" each vertebra on the wall. Make sure your head is the last part of your body to uncurl.

Total number of reps: two.

Note: As your pregnancy progresses, you can modify this stretch by doing it seated in a chair with your feet wide apart to make room for your belly. Sitting right on the edge of the chair, inhale, then exhale as you move your chin toward your chest and roll your body forward and down. Your hands can hang between your legs. Inhale, and then exhale as you roll all the way up.

Waist twist

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart for stability, knees slightly bent.
  • Extend both your arms toward your left side at shoulder height while looking over your right shoulder. Hold the stretch and breathe into it.
  • Moving slowly, reverse the motion, switching your arms to the right while looking over your left shoulder. Repeat.

Total number of reps: two or three per side, several times a day.

Calf stretch

  • Stand about 2 feet from a wall, with your arms extended in front of your shoulders and feet at shoulder width.
  • Press your hands to the wall and lean forward, bending your elbows as your body tilts.
  • Keep your heels on the floor to stretch your calf muscles. (Don't do this exercise in socks or slippery shoes – you want your feet to stay put.) Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  • Slowly push away from the wall to straighten up.

Total number of reps: two.


  • Sitting on the floor, sit tall with your knees bent to the right and your heels close to your bottom. With your left hand, hold your left ankle for support as your right hand extends overhead. Inhale, then exhale and reach up and over to the left side.
  • Inhale and hold the stretch. Exhale to return to an upright position. Repeat one more time on your right side before moving to the left. You'll feel a stretch in the sides of your waist, hip, and lower back.
  • Repeat while sitting on your left hip.

Total number of reps: two per side.

Thigh and hip flexor stretch

  • Lie on your left side, with your head on a pillow or a folded towel. Slightly bend your left leg for stability.
  • Bend your right leg, moving your foot toward your bottom, and take hold of your right ankle. Gently pull the heel closer to your bottom and draw in your abdominals to support your lower back. You should feel a stretch in the thigh and deep hip flexors. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Release and switch sides, lying on your right side.

Total number of reps: two per side.

Learn more:

Watch the video: PREGNANCY YOGA - Evening Calming Yoga (May 2022).