A regular stretching routine has many benefits during pregnancy. It can increase the general well-being of the mother while protecting the infant from a life-threatening condition. It is also very helpful for relieving common problems that arise during pregnancy. There are some limitations to stretching that moms-to-be should know about, though. This information will help you decide if stretching is for you and what types of stretches you can do.
Stretching increases range of motion, keeping your muscles limber. This prevents muscle tears and damage to cartilage in the joints. Researchers at the Chapel Hill School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina found that a stretching routine can help prevent pre-eclampsia, a serious pregnancy-induced form of hypertension.
During pregnancy, muscles tend to tighten because your body is heavier and its balance is thrown off. The spine is forced into a new position, which pulls muscles into sometimes awkward positions and tightens them. This stress can cause pain. Stretching loosens strained muscles, relieving pain.
Stretching can increase the body’s blood flow. Increased circulation pumps more oxygen into the system, which boosts your mood and makes muscles healthier.
There are several types of stretches you can do during pregnancy. Most concentrate on joint areas and do not require you to lie or sit on the floor.
Shoulder rolls, for example, can be done while standing and relieve tension from the shoulders, neck and upper-back area. Shoulder rolls are done by gently rolling the shoulders in a circular pattern.
A wall push-up stretches the shoulders and the calves. Rest your hands on either side of a door frame and lean forward with your arms bent so that your feet are behind you.
Similarly, the chest stretch is done with your hands against the door frame, arms bent and feet vertical with the shoulders. Move one foot through the door until you feel a stretch in your chest, then switch your feet.
Always consult a doctor before starting any type of stretching program. Take care during all stretching routines to avoid injury. This is especially true during the third trimester, because the ligaments in the body are longer than normal and can be injured very easily. Bouncing, twisting or fast movements should be avoided.