The Best Pregnancy Stretches To Increase Flexibility In Your Spine, Hips & Legs

Contributing writer By Michelle Duvall, PMA-CPT, RYT-200
Contributing writer
Michelle Duvall, PMA-CPT, RYT-200, is a fitness instructor and founder and creator of Barre Variations, a barre method that combines a blend of ballet, Pilates, and yoga.
Pregnant Woman in Her Third Trimester Stretching in a Fitness Studio

There are so many changes that happen to the body during pregnancy. The pelvis is expanding and getting ready to make room for the baby—this tightens the lower back, and the lateral (side hips) in order for the body to counterbalance. And since the front of the body is growing, it also reduces spinal mobility—which contributes to overall flexibility in the body.

When I was pregnant, I found that I always felt better when I kept moving. Even if my range of motion was limited, trying to include light stretching and movement helped reduce the aches and pains caused by my body changes. Bonus: Stretching while strengthening the pelvic floor and hips also helps keep this area strong for labor. 

To help you stay active, mobile, and ready for delivery, I'm sharing my top three prenatal stretches that helped me through my own pregnancy:

1. Second Position

How to: Start by stepping the feet out a little wider than the hips in an externally rotated position. Point the knees over the second toes. Bend your knees, lower toward knee level, and hold. Only lower to where it feels comfortable, and avoid this pose if it feels like overstretching. 


Benefits: This standing post option and stretch opens the hips, pelvic floor, and inner thighs. Holding this will also strengthen the same muscles preparing the body for labor and delivery.

Second Position Prenatal Stretch
Michelle Duvall

2. Mermaid

How to: Sit with the legs in a figure 4, or cross-legged position, with the sitz bones anchored to the floor. Place one hand on the floor next to the hips, and begin to side-bend overreaching the opposite arm overhead. Push into the floor to create traction. Keep the neck lengthened, and avoid overarching the lower back


Benefits: Lateral flexion of the spine increases flexibility in the side waist and back. It also reduces aches, as the body is constantly being pulled forward during pregnancy. 

Mermaid Prenatal Stretch
Michelle Duvall

3. Camel

 

How to: Start by sitting on your feet with knees bent. Place the hands on the floor behind the hips. Then roll the shoulders back to open the chest, and push into the floor to lift the hips away from the feet. Only lift to where it feels comfortable, and use blocks under your hands if needed. Avoid if you have knee pain or overstretching in the abdominals. 


Benefits: This stretch targets the quads and upper thoracic spine. Spinal extension becomes greatly reduced during pregnancy. Do this to open the chest and stretch the spine.

Camel Pose Prenatal Stretch
Michelle Duvall / Contributor

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