Jan 20, 2014

Best Stretches for Pregnant Women (and desk workers!)

As you can see, I'm definitely carrying an extra load these days. This baby weight is starting to strain my body and sometimes the only relief I can find is in some good ol' stretching. Even if you're not prego, these stretches will help all you desk/office workers as well. While it's my baby (not a computer screen) that's pulling me forward, the effects of working behind a desk all day can be similar. So even if you aren't pregnant, these 5 stretches will be great for everyone.

If you start to feel any discomfort, then modify the stretch. Stop if you feel any pain and always consult your doctor or midwife with any questions or concerns.

Shoulders: Almost everyone carries some tension in their shoulders. Apart from daily shoulder shrugs (roll your shoulders all the up, back and down), these two stretches will open up your chest and relieve some of the pressure in those shoulders. 
  1. Keep your elbows glued to your rib cage as you spread your palms wide up toward the sky and try to bring your thumbs together behind your back (you won't be able to). Imagine like you are serving a platter to someone behind you as you rotate your shoulders and engage your back. 
  2. This stretch has added benefits as we can fold over and get a stretch through the waistline as well. Start by bringing your hand behind your back just below the nape of your neck. Resist your opposing arm as you try to pull your elbow toward the midline of your back. Press your head back into your forearm, keeping your chest open. When you release, take a look in the mirror -- your shoulder drops an inch! Repeat on the other side. 

Squat: Practicing this stretch and position is so important during pregnancy. Not only does it help to open the hips and stretch out the pelvic floor, but it will strengthen all the muscles needed during delivery. If you're having difficulty balancing, do this against a wall or hold onto a chair. 

Cat & Cow: The cow position has been especially helpful when I start to feel tightening in my lower abdomen. As my baby grows, this stretch helps to reduce round ligament pain. Not only does it gently stretch the abdominals, but it helps with lower back pain as well.  From this position, you can also keep your spine in neutral as you shake your hips gently from right to left and feel a nice stretch through the sides. 

Pigeon: This is my all time favorite stretch. It opens the hips and stretches the glutes. If you are more pregnant and can't come down to this position, you can do in a standing position with your leg on top of a bed or sofa. Feel free to relax your head neck and shoulders down toward the floor. If you're feeling flexible, try bending the back knee and grabbing onto your ankle with the opposite hand.

Child's Pose: Your baby is probably in a similar position right now… why not join him or her? This stretch will give your lower back some much needed relief. For added benefit, bring one hand on your lower back and reach through the opposite side. So nice. No wonder baby likes to hang out like this!

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