Pregnancy comes with a lot of new feelings. Some of the feelings are great and some are not so great. The less than awesome uncomfortable feelings associated with pregnancy can be associated with tight muscles in the hips, chest, and back. Areas of your body are trying to expand to allow for the little one to grow and move around in his or new home.
Pain or discomfort is often a symptom of a joint or muscle not functioning optimally. Often times a chiropractic adjustment, massage session, and acupuncture visit can relieve the pain. However there are a few mobility exercises that you can do on your own to keep joints and muscles moving through their full range of motion.
Hip openers These are great for pregnant women to do on their own, especially as we get in the last eight to ten weeks. They are exactly as they sound- they open the hips.
Lacrosse ball on the piriformis Take a lacrosse or tennis ball and place under one butt cheek. Then, with your weight in your hands behind you, lean onto that ball. You can adjust the amount of weight you put into the ball by taking more or less weight in your arms and other leg. You can also do the figure four onto the ball with the bent leg on the ball.
Deep squat. This is the most underrated movement of our times. The squat opens the birth canal. A full squat is one in which your booty goes below parallel, your knees track out, your spine is upright, and your entire foot stays on the ground. If you cannot hold this on your own, then grab a chair or a wall or even a kettlebell to counter balance you.
PVC pec stretch. This pose/exercise can be done with a PVC pipe or broom stick. Basically you place the stick on the top of your upper back as if you were going to back squat. Then, you line your wrists up with the stick but in back of the stick. Finally, you adjust the tension by bringing your elbows forward and your wrists closer to you. Do NOT arch your lumbar spine. Breathe into this posture for 60 seconds at least twice a day.
PVC Windmill. Again this exercise can be done with a PVC or a broom stick, so there is no excuse not to do it at home. Stand with your feet super wide but where you still have a firm foundation. Begin with the stick straight above your head with arms in a ‘Y’ position. Then, while holding the stick, bring your right arm towards your right foot. Once the right hand reaches the right foot, bring your left hand to your left foot. At this point you are fully hinged at the hips. Next, bring your right hand to stack above your left hand while still holding the stick. And finally, return to standing. Do this five to six times in each direction. Be sure to go slow enough to feel the stretch in your rib cage and hamstrings.
Hip flexor mobility can benefit just about anyone in our world today. When these muscles get super tight, they can pull the pelvis into what is called an anterior tilt (sway back almost) and put a lot of pressure on the lower vertebrae in the spine
Wall lunge is the best stretch I’ve found to date. Find a wall and place one knee a few inches from it. The closer the knee is to the wall the more intense the stretch will be, so start off further than you would think at first. Use your hands or a chair to lift yourself upright. Watch the tilt in the pelvis because you do not want an overly arched lower back. Breathe in this position for a minute or so and switch to the other side.
These are just a few mobility exercises that every pregnant woman could benefit from incorporating into their daily lives. Self-maintenance requires a little bit of discipline; however, once you are in the habit of doing it, you will feel the benefits.