Due to your growing baby and increased amount of relaxin in your system, your posture, your laxity and the way you move will start changing. You all have heard of Newtons third law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When you are carrying a baby in your belly, the weight of the baby will change the way your spine is. You arch will get exaggerated, your core stabilizers will be inhibited, then your hamstrings will tighen up to put the “breaks on” to stop that forward pull. These are just some of the changes in your lower half.
Even though, we refer to our spine as neck, mid back and low back, in reality, our spine is made up of 33 bones that are interconnected via ligaments, muscles, and fascia. The point is if your curvature in your low back changes, it will eventually change your alignment in your neck. That is one of the reasons why pregnant women tend to suffer a forward head posture that also accompanies rounded shoulders and tight chest. As the weight you are carrying in the front increases, you can imagine the increased stress on your joints and muscles.
Following a program that consists of both stretching and strengthening is essential especially during your second trimester since your body is going under more stress as your baby keeps growing inside of you. If you have not started with a workout routine, this is the time for it! Do it asap.
If you can spare 20-30 minutes daily, performing couple stretches and strengthening exercises will be helpful during your pregnancy, labor as well as postpartum. You can either alternate your days as upper and lower half, or you can dedicate stretches to one day and leave strengthening exercises for the next day.
Some stretches to focus on should be for your neck and chest. Doorway stretches are really good for your neck while seated stretches for both right and the left side of your neck will alleviate muscle tightness and spasms. After stretching what is tight, the next step is to strengthen what is weak. My favorite muscle groups to focus on are your triceps and upper back. You can either use weights or an elastic band for both exercises. Another choice is simply using your body weight. Tricep dips on the edge of a couch, modified push ups or regular push ups if you are able to, and/or planks will help you strengthen your upper back.
When it comes to stretching, keeping your hips mobile and unrestricted will aid your low back pain and prepare you for labor. Hip flexors, adductors, hamstrings and calves are the muscle groups that need to be stretched. Holding 30-60 seconds shall be adequate hence it will allow muscle to start relaxing. Strengthening your abs is out of the question and crunches make it to the top of the exercises that you need to avoid while pregnant. Whet you can do instead is focusing on your deep pelvic muscles and gluteals. Kegel exercises, double leg bridges that you can advance to single leg later on, clamshells and again planks are great exercises. As the exercises get easier, you can also add 5-10 seconds holds for each rep.
An important tip to keep in mind to avoid holding your breath during exercising since it can also affect your blood pressure. You cannot vocalize, without taking a breath so easiest trick is to count out loud while you are exercising.
I would like to hear about your perspective. What do you think? Please comment and let me know!
Tune in for more information and instructions on detailed exercise programs, until then stay awesome!
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