Prenatal Exercises – Stretches

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,537
    Fitness instructor Vionna Jones demonstrates how to stretch all of the muscles that you have just used in the workout.

    Vionna Jones: Hi, my name is Vionna Jones of the Hot Mama Fitness Studio and today I am showing you how to workout during your pregnancy. In this segment, we are going to show you how to stretch.

    At the end of your workout, you should make sure that you stretch all of the muscles that you have just used in the workout. If you feel that you are not going to have time or you may skip over the stretching at the end of the workout, you should do the stretching at the beginning, but it's very, very important to stretch. Not only does it help to prevent injury but also it helps to lengthen out the muscles that you just contracted by doing all of your strengthening exercises.

    We are going to focus this segment on the stretches that are really important during your pregnancy. The first stretch that we are going to do is called the squat stretch. We are going to use a wall, but you can use a chair, you can use the sofa, the side of your bed. This is something that you can do everyday, a couple of times a day to help to open up your hips. So we are going t use the wall here.

    Julie is going to turn to face the wall and Julie is going to demonstrate. She is going to hold onto the wall, that you can do for balance, and she is going to walk her feet apart, turning the feet out just a little bit, and then she is going to sink down into her squat stretch. So she is going to shift back. Notice that her heels are on the floor. You want to make sure that your heels are on the floor. If your heels are not on the floor, then you can move your feet a little bit further apart. She has got really nice, open hips here, she is able to sink all the way down.

    If you are not able to come that far, that's fine, just come as far down as you can comfortably and hold the stretch here. You can hold it for 20 or 30 seconds or as long as you can. The more you do it, the easier it will become, the longer you will be able to hold the stretch. Again, this is a very important stretch for opening up the hips. When you are ready to come out of it, you can just walk your hands right back up the wall to come out of the stretch.

    Next, we are going to do cat and cow stretch to stretch out the lower back. As you see, Julie is here in a nice all fours position. Her knees are underneath her hips, the knees are hip width apart, her knees are not touching, and her ribs are underneath her shoulders. She is setup just like we did at the beginning for the opposite arm, opposite leg, but this time we are going to do cat and cow stretch. So we will start with the cat, by dropping the head and dropping the tail bone, she is going to arch her back all the way up towards the ceiling. Then she will inhale to lift the chest and lift the tail bone, concaving the back here for cow. Exhaling to go back into her cat, pushing the floor away to really arch the back up towards the ceiling, and then inhale to come into her cow stretch, lifting the chest and the tail bone. You will go between the two of these 20 or 30 seconds, so you feel as though your lower back is really stretched out. This can be done at any point during the day, when you start to feel a discomfort in your lower back, not only at the end of your workout. It can be done standing and sitting as well, seated in a chair at work. When she has finished, she will come back to all fours with a nice flat back and a nice long spine.

    Then from here, let's stretch out the hamstring. So we are going to come into a seated position. One leg is going to extend straight out, bringing the sole of the foot into your thigh. Then again, we are going to sit nice and tall, your hipbones are in contact with the mat. Then we are going to have the toes facing straight up here and then she is going to reach out for her toes. You can use your strap, your yoga strap here, or a towel, a tie, anything that will help you to reach your foot here. Again, nice and tall, and she is able to stretch her hamstrings by reaching forward. This stretch you can hold 20 or 30 seconds. This can be done a couple of times.

    So after she has held it, she is going to release the strap and then come into a stretch called cradle the baby. This is to open up the hips. So she is going to take the bent leg, bringing the elbow around the knees, and also bringing the foot into the crease of the elbow here. Then she holds it there, again 20 or 30 seconds, to open up the hips. You can move side-to-side a little bit if you want. It's not a problem if your foot doesn't come all the way into the crease of your elbow or if your elbow is not the whole way around your knee, just however you can hold it, so that you are opening up the hips here in this position.

    After she has held it 20-30 seconds, she will extend this leg straight out, bringing the foot into the thigh on the other side. Soles are going to face straight up on this side and she can stretch the hamstring on the other side now. Again, shoulder blades are back and she has nice, good posture here, so that with this good posture she is not feeling a stretch in her back, she is feeling a stretch in her hamstrings. By stretching out the hamstrings, it also helps to keep away any sciatica pains.

    After she has held this 20-30 seconds, she will come into cradle the baby on this side. Again, using the bent leg, she brings the knee into her elbow crease and the elbow goes around the foot as well, as close as it will come. She holds it open, sitting as tall as she can. If would you like, you can rock side-to-side to open up the hips. This stretch is held again 20-30 seconds. Then when she is done, she will extend this leg straight out. Then we will prepare for our next stretch, another hip stretch, bringing the soles of the feet together for a butterfly. So this is another good one for stretching out the hips. Again, you see how she has good posture, shoulder blades and back of her spine are nice and long. You can hold it here. Just let your knees fall off to the side, wherever they will come, and your feet together can be as far away or as far in as it's comfortable for you. You will get more of a stretch the closer in you will bring your feet, but do not try to force them in too close.

    Then with a straight spine here, she could also lean forward a little bit and that opens up the hips just a little bit more. Again, she is not going to try to force herself to go any further down than it's comfortable for her. She holds this stretch for 20-30 seconds. This is also a good position to do any other stretches that you want to do for your upper body. She can stretch out her shoulders while holding this position. She can stretch out triceps, upper back and things like that. So this is a good position to be in for other stretches. So you can stretch the hips as well as stretching out the upper back or the shoulders.

    This is how to stretch during your pregnancy. These are the stretches that I most recommend to my clients to do while they are pregnant, because it really helps to open up the hips and prepare them for a much easier and faster labor and delivery process.