Pregnancy Stretches

I have lots of aches and pains from pregnancy and have found that stretching really helps me.  Here are a few of my favorite stretches.  I really like the back stretches and have found that stretching my legs helps me have less back pain. Also, stretching my upper body helps relieve a lot of the tension I get in my neck/upper back.

Back Stretches
Torso Rotations 
Muscles: Back, Upper Torso
Instructions: Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Hold your right foot with your left hand. Then move your left hand behind you, slowly twist your upper body to the right. Hold for several seconds, then return to the starting position. Switch hands and repeat on the other side.
Reps: 10 on each side

Backward Stretch 
Muscles: Back, Pelvis and Thighs
Instructions: Start on your hands and knees, keeping your arms straight and your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Curl backward slowly until you're resting on your knees. Tuck your head toward your knees and keep your arms extended. Hold for several seconds, then return to the starting position. 
Reps: 10

Dromedary Droop
Muscles: Lower Back
Instructions: Get on hands and knees and relax back while keeping your head straight and making sure your neck is lined up with your spine. Arch your back and let your head droop down. Return to starting position.
Reps: 10

Standing Pelvic Tilt 
Muscles: Lower back
Instructions: Stand up straight with your back against a wall, your feet about shoulder-width apart. Then push the small of your back against the wall. Hold for several seconds, then return to the starting position.
Reps: 10

Leg Stretches
Seated Buttocks Stretch 
Muscles: Buttocks
Instructions: Sit on the edge of a chair, straighten your back and relax your shoulders. Lift your left foot off of the ground, and place the outside of your left ankle on your right knee. Place your left hand on your left knee; this will prevent it from lifting during the stretch. Lower your chest toward your knees, stopping when you feel a stretch in your left buttock. Hold for 45 seconds, then do the same with your other leg.

Hamstrings Stretch 
Muscles: Thighs
Instructions: Sit on the ground and extend your legs in front of you. Widen them 45 degrees and straighten your back. Relax your shoulders and lift your arms in front of you. Slowly lower your chest toward the floor while reaching your fingers toward your toes. Widen your legs to accommodate your stomach if necessary. Stop when you feel a stretch in the back of your thighs, and hold for 45 seconds.

*I also like to do this stretch standing up. Stand with feet hip width apart.  Bend knees slightly until both hands lay flat on floor between legs. Slowly try to straighten knees while keeping hands on floor. When you begin to feel stretch in hamstring stop and hold for 30 seconds.

Standing Leg Stretch
Muscles: Hamstrings
Instructions: Stand near an object you can support yourself on such as a chair. Bend your left knee bringing your foot up and towards your buttocks. Grasp foot with your left hand while brining heal of left foot to your buttocks while extending your thigh backwards from the hip joint. Keep back strait and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with opposite leg.

Leg Lifts
Muscles: Thighs
Instructions: Lie on your left side with your shoulders, knees and hips lined up straight. Support yourself by holding your head with your left arm and placing your right arm on the floor in front of you. Slowly lift your right leg as high as you can.
Reps: 10 on each side

Muscles: Legs, Rear
Instructions: Standing with feet parallel and hip-width apart, take a big step. Tighten the butt cheek of the rear leg, keeping the hips level. Put your hands on your lower back as shown. Lower into a lunge, keeping the front knee behind the toes. Hold for four slow breaths, contracting the lower abs on the exhale
Reps: 4 on each side

Upper Body Stretches
Chest Stretch
Muscles: Chest
Instructions: With arms bent at shoulder level grasp both sides of a doorway. Lean forward until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold 10-20 seconds.
Reps: 5

Shoulder Stretch
Muscles: Shoulders
Instructions: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. Bring your left arm out in front of you at chest height and bend it slightly. Take your right hand, place it on your left elbow, pull your left elbow toward your right shoulder as you exhale. Hold 20 seconds, switch sides.

Neck Relaxer
Muscles: Neck
Instructions: Sit up straight or stand and try to relax. Tilt your head to one side and let it slowly drop to your shoulder. Don’t raise your shoulders to meet your head or force your head down. Hold for 10 seconds, switch sides.
Reps: 4 on each side

Plank on Knees 
Muscles: Abs, Arms and Shoulders
Instructions: Rest on your hands and knees with your neck, back, and thighs forming a straight line as shown. Pull your abs toward your spine to prevent your back from arching. With your shoulders over your hands, do a slow push-up, going about halfway down to the floor. Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up.
Reps: 4

Hope these help!


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