Pregnant women experience a myriad of discomforts throughout their pregnancies. From backaches and shortness of breath to swollen ankles and crampy legs, the side effects of being pregnant can sometimes be overwhelming. That is why, for many women around the globe, regularly stretching has proven to be the answer to their troubles.
Pregnant women who tried stretching have reported on its merits. It makes you more flexible, keeps your muscles loose, and eases pregnancy pains. Stretching is also a healthy way to reduce stress and enhance the body’s range of motion. Although stretching is always beneficial, it can feel particularly heavenly during pregnancy
What are the benefits of stretching?
Here are a few of the benefits of stretching that you can enjoy while waiting for your baby to arrive:
Stretching keeps you Relaxed
Stretching during pregnancy can make you feel more calm, loose, and relaxed. Regularly stretching can lead to a relieved physical and mental tension. Your breath rate slows which lowers your heart rate and can lower blood pressure.
Stretching Loosens Sore Muscles
Stretching can also relieve muscle pain caused by soreness and stiffness. Amazing changes happen in your body during stretching and one of them is an increase of oxygenated blood flow to your muscles. This will give you more energy and help flush out toxins and lactic acid, so you'll experience less muscle soreness.
Stretching Helps Prevent Injury
By frequently stretching, your muscles and joints will grow stronger and more flexible that can lead to a safer labor. Your joints will be lubricated so that they can move smoothly and painlessly. People who stretch have longer muscles, a greater freedom of movement, and smaller chances of muscle injury. On the other hand, not stretching can lead to spinal misalignment that can cause severe back pain.
Is there anything I should be careful of while stretching?
Stretching will always be safe and beneficial to your body as long as you follow these safety tips:
- Always remember to warm up since stretching cold muscles can cause injury.
- Move slowly and gently. Bouncing while you're stretching can result in a pulled muscle.
- Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Always stop stretching if you notice any pain.
- Listen to your body and limit yourself to a range of motion that feels good, never painful.
- Exhale as you stretch and inhale as you return to your start position.
- Stay well-hydrated.
- Avoid stretches that require you to lie flat on your back, especially after your first trimester. This position can reduce blood flow to your uterus and cause abnormally low blood pressure and lightheadedness.
What stretches are good for pregnancy?
- Roll-down. This stretch is excellent for relieving and relaxing tense back muscles. In order to do it properly, you need to stand against a wall for balance, place your feet shoulder-width apart as you roll forward. Slowly drop your chin to your chest and roll your back off the wall. Make sure your head is the last body part to uncurl. Repeat this roll-down stretch three to five times.
- Waist twist. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. The next step is to extend your arms toward your left side at shoulder height while looking over your right shoulder. Hold the stretch and then reverse the motion. Extend your arms toward your right side at shoulder height while looking over your left shoulder.
- Cat-cow. Get down on all fours and keep the tops of your feet flat on the mat. Shoulders directly over your wrists and hips over your knees. As you inhale, drop your belly, letting your back arch, but keep your shoulders rolled back and down while looking forward and slightly upward. This is the cow position. As you exhale, press into your hands and round your upper back, while looking in toward your belly. This is the cat position.
- Child’s pose. Kneel on all fours, abdominals drawn in. Open your knees to accommodate your belly, and fold forward, resting your arms and head in front of you. Sink into the floor and breathe deeply, and if you can, hold the pose for a few minutes.