By Holly Little, for BabyFit
Pregnancy can be harsh on ligaments and joints because of the added weight your body supports. Your back may be one of the major areas where you'll notice the ache. Regular stretching and exercise help offset these effects by improving flexibility, strength, muscle tone, and reducing the incidence of lower back pain. Try the following exercises and gentle stretches to alleviate back pain.
Full Back Stretch
This stretch is great throughout your entire pregnancy. You can do it anytime you feel lower back discomfort and all you need is something stable to hold on to. This stretch targets your deltoids, rhomboids, lats and erector spinae (an elongated muscle mass that extends from your neck to the small of your back), while lengthening your back muscles and easing lower back tension.
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and hold your knees relaxed. Holding on to a door, bed frame, or other stationary object for support, bend your knees and round your back, tucking your chin toward your chest and your pelvis under. Feel the stretch along the length of your spine. Hold and repeat.
Lower Back Stretch
This exercise should only be done in your first trimester because it requires you to lie on your back. It targets your lower back and glutes (butt muscles) and will start to lengthen your tight lower back muscles and improve your posture.
Lying on your back, bend both knees with your feet flat on the floor about a foot apart. Pull your right knee toward your chest and loop a towel around your right foot. Keeping your foot flexed, bring your knee up toward your right shoulder, pulling gently with the towel. Hold for a count of three and then release. Repeat with left leg.
Upper Back Crunch
This variation of the crunch is excellent for your second trimester and can be done in a sitting position. It targets your erector spinae, lats and traps, and will help relieve upper back pain caused by your growing breasts and belly.
Sit on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the ground a comfortable distance apart. With your back straight and your abs pulled in, extend your arms out to your side at shoulder height, your palms facing backward. Pulse your arms behind you slowly and gently, as if you were trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Repeat.
Why Stretching Matters
Injury Prevention in Pregnancy
Mind-Body-Spirit Exercises for Pregnancy
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