For many of us, stretching is a part of our workout routine. But for some, it is something that gets forgotten about or not done enough of.
In pregnancy, it is even more important to stretch out as much as possible as it has many benefits to the pregnant woman and her body, during this time of postural changes.
The benefits are:
- Increased flexibility.
- Helps to decrease aches and pains.
- Enhances the body’s range of motion, which will help prepare your body for the stress of childbirth, getting into different positions, that your body may not be used to.
- Helps to relieve stress.
Some of the stretching exercises that are great for pregnancy and postnatal are:
Neck stretch, shoulder, lower back, chest, hip flexors, glutes, adductors, calf stretches, as these areas can become tight over time, which causes the muscles to shorten and tighten, therefore increasing stiffness, which can cause pain.
Never bounce or force into a stretch, always go slowly to a comfortable range of movement. Also, use your breathing to exhale as you stretch out and inhale at the end of the stretch.
Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
Once you get to the 2nd trimester, avoid doing stretches laying flat on your back or in the supine position. You should prop your head up using a pillow. Laying flat on your back reduces blood flow to your uterus. It can cause low blood pressure and make you feel lightheaded.
Always get up from stretching carefully and slowly, using a wall or chair to steady yourself.
Stretching programs should be included as part of your daily workout routines or on your rest days to because stretching will help to alleviate and reduce some of the aches and pains associated with pregnancy and it will help reduce stress and make you feel more relaxed.