3 Great Stretches and 4 Rotations for Pregnant Women (or Anyone)

Here I am in my third trimester of pregnancy and my back, shoulders and neck are really aching. So I thought I would share a few of my favorite stretches with you. These stretches are great during pregnancy, but also can help anyone who needs some relief from work and life. Remember to always check with your doctor before participating in any type of exercise, especially when pregnant.

Butterfly Stretch

This stretch will give you some relief in your lower back and hips.

  1. Sit on the ground with your feet together and hands resting on your ankles.
  2. Gently lean forward with a flat back. Stay relaxed, keep your neck in alignment with your back and your shoulders pressed down.
  3. You can gently press your elbows against your knees as you lean forward. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  4. Next you will want to counter this stretch by gently placing your hands on your knees and pushing your knees up and applying a little bit of pressure on your knees with your hands. Hold this for 5-10 seconds. You should repeat this at least 3 times and do it at least once a day.

Cat-Cow Stretch with Child’s Pose

This is a great stretch for your back, hips, shoulders, neck and chest. This is my favorite.

  1. Get on all fours, where your knees are placed right under your hips and your hands are placed right under your shoulders. Keep your back flat and relaxed and your neck in alignment with your spine.
  2. Then you will go into the cat stretch. Here you will round your back by pushing it upward, gently tucking your chin to your chest. You will hold this for 5-10 seconds.
  3. Next, relax your back so that it slightly arches. Your neck and head will gently and naturally raise to the sky, while your abdomen drops for the cow stretch. Again, you will hold this for 5-10 seconds also.
  4. Next you will press your hips and glutes onto your feet applying some pressure in your hands to push you back and relieve your knees. This is the child’s pose. Your neck will be relaxed and arms stretched out long and in front of you. You will gently push your chest and abdomen to the floor. Hold this for 5-10 seconds.
  5. Repeat this cycle about three times and try to do it once a day.

Plie Stretch

This stretch is also a strengthening exercise. It is great for the hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and balance.

  1. This is a standing exercise. You will start with your feet hip-width apart with the toes pointing outward. If you need help with balance you may place a chair in front of you that you can hold on to.
  2. Next you will bend your knees slightly. Do not let the knees go forward past the toes. Thinking of sinking your toosh to the floor, but make sure you tuck your seat under slightly and keep your back straight, neck in alignment and shoulders down.
  3. You will then stand tall again pressing through the heels of your feet. Repeat this 10-15 times with 2-3 sets.

The Rotations for Relaxation

The following exercises are a variety of rotations throughout the body to just help you relax and release tension. You will start at the top of your body and work your way down.

  • Neck Rotations — Sit up straight or stand. Relax your shoulders and neck. Then drop your head, chin to chest. Then gently rotate your head to the right shoulder, back to the center and then the left shoulder. Complete at least 3 rotations slowly to each side.
  • Shoulder Rotations — Sit up straight or stand. Relax your shoulders and neck. Bring your shoulders forward and then rotate them up to your ears and back down. Do this with both shoulders at the same time or one at a time. Also make sure to reverse it and rotate the other way. You should do at least 3 rotations on both sides each way.
  • Hip Rotations —  Stand up straight with your feet parallel and hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly. For balance, you can also hold onto something to keep yourself steady. Gently rotate your hips around to the right and all the way around. Then reverse this to the left. Do at least 3 rotations each way.
  • Ankle Rotations — Sit up straight and extend one leg in front of you at a time. Lift the leg slightly off the ground. Circle your ankle with at least 3 rotations one way and then reverse that doing 3 rotations the other way. Repeat on the other ankle.

Do these rotations once a day and be sure to relax and breathe through them. What other exercise or stretches have you done while pregnant or to help you relax?

Photos by Kristie Stocker. See more on Flickr.

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