Stretches to do during pregnancy
Stretching exercises can be very beneficial during pregnancy, improving strength, stamina, suppleness and relaxation. Here are a few stretching techniques.

Stretching exercises can be very beneficial during pregnancy, improving strength, stamina, suppleness and relaxation. Supple muscles, ligaments and joints will help your pelvis open up and increase your range of movement. Correct stretching is important, as you could tear or even shorten the muscles that you are trying to lengthen and strengthen if you stretch incorrectly. 

Ballistic stretching is not recommended. This type of stretching involves, short, quick, repetitive bouncy movements. It also means stretching muscles as far as they can go.

Static stretching is the correct way to stretch safely. This technique involves slow, deliberate stretching through the full range of movement of the muscle until you feel resistance. Stop before you feel pain. You may feel discomfort as you hold the movement for 30 seconds, but it should ease off towards the end of the pause.

Calf stretch

Particularly helpful if you suffer from cramps.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, feet flat on floor. Use a chair for support. Tighten your abdominals and relax shoulders.
  2. Take a step directly backwards with one foot, keeping the knee of the supporting leg soft.
  3. Lengthen your spine, pull your chin in and maintain the length of your neck with the natural extension of your spine. Keep your pelvis tilted.
  4. Bend your supporting leg and straighten your extended leg, gently pressing the heel into the floor. Keep your weight forward to maintain a diagonal line from head to heel. If you cannot feel the stretch, move your foot further back.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat with the other leg.

Quadriceps stretch

Lengthens the muscles at the front of your thigh.

  1. Stand sideways to a chair and place your hand on the back for extra support. Place your feet hip-width apart and take your weight onto your left leg, lifting through the supporting hip.
  2. Tilt your pelvis, tighten your abdominals and soften your knees.
  3. Reach behind and take your left foot or ankle in your left hand. Keep the right knee slightly bent. Stand tall, maintaining a pelvic tilt (keeping your tailbone tucked in) and stretch the top of the thigh for 30 seconds. Keep your knee pointed at the floor and in line with the other knee.

Pectoral stretch

Improves posture and breathing as you stretch the area across your chest.

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, knees soft. Place your hands just above your buttocks, tighten your abdominals as you “hug” your baby and stand tall. Keep knees soft.
  2. Lift your chest and draw both elbows back, slowly squeezing your shoulder blades together. Keep your abdominals tight, to prevent your back from arching, and ensure that your neck and spine are aligned.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds. You should feel the stretch across your chest and the front of your shoulders. Rest your palms on your buttocks, not your hips.

Seated hamstring stretch

Lengthens and stretches the muscles at the back of the thigh. Short muscles in this area are one of the main causes of backache.

  1. Sit on the floor with legs apart. Keep one leg extended and bend the other keeping that foot flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hands on the floor behind and tighten your abdominal muscles to support your back. Make sure your spine is long and your chest lifted off the uterus.
  3. Move your arms closer to your back, still keeping abdominals tight. Press down on your hands to lift up and lengthen your spine as you ease gently into the stretch. You should feel the stretch at the back of the thigh of the extended leg. Keep the foot of that leg flexed and your knee facing upwards.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

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