Pregnancy Articles

Loosen Up! Start Stretching

Find a Stretching Routine For You

BabyFit has customized six stretching programs. Click through to find the right one for you. Click on the link for any stretch to find more detailed directions and links to other stretches!

The Basics

This set of full body stretches can be used whether you are just starting out or are more experienced. It will prepare you for just about any workout or physical activity. The stretches themselves are basic and easy to follow. Remember to warm up first and never stretch to the point of pain. Know your body's limits. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds, repeating two or three times, depending on how you feel.

Neck Stretch: Keep torso upright, shoulders down and back, and spine neutral. With your left hand, gently grasp the left side of your head while reaching your opposite and behind your back. Tilt head down toward shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch.

Biceps and Shoulder Stretch: Begin this stretch in a standing position with your feet approximately shoulder width apart. Clasp your hands together behind your back. Roll your chest out and raise your arms up toward the ceiling.

Triceps Stretch: Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Extend one arm overhead. Bend the extended arm so that you are reaching down the center of your back with the palm of your hand. Hold that arm down at the elbow with your opposite hand.

Chest Stretch (Corner Stretch): Stand in the corner of a room, facing the walls, feet planted about 2-3 feet away from the corner. With feet flat and legs straight, place one palm on each wall, wrists in line with your shoulders. Bending at the elbows, lower your body toward the corner, elbows pointing backward.

Back Stretch (Angry Cat Stretch): Begin on your hands and knees on a soft surface. Your knees should be directly below the hips, hands directly under the shoulders, head and spine in a neutral position. Inhale and tuck your chin into your chest, drawing your lower abdomen in toward the spine as you round your back.

Hamstring Stretch: Begin by standing upright, facing the seat of a low chair, stool, or step. Carefully place the heel of your right foot onto the chair (using a wall or another object for balance, if necessary). Keep your back leg slightly bent and abs tight to help with balance. Keeping torso straight, bend over from the waist, lowering your upper body toward your extended leg.

Quadriceps Stretch: Begin standing next to a sturdy chair or the wall. Feet and legs should be together, abs pulled in. Place your right hand onto the chair or wall for balance. Grasp your left ankle or foot with your left hand. Keeping back flat and thighs together, gently pull your left heel toward your left buttock until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh.

Hip Flexor Stretch: Begin with both knees on the floor, and body upright. Use the floor or a low piece of furniture for balance (if necessary) and place your right foot in front of you, flat on the floor, knee bent. Your right knee should be directly over your right ankle, and your spine should be upright. Place your hands on your front thigh or on your hips. Keeping your torso upright, deepen the bend in your right knee (the knee may move in line with the toe at this point), and lean your hips forward.

Lower Back Stretch (Child's Pose): Begin on hands and knees with hands directly below shoulders, palms flat, and knees directly below hips. Slowly extend arms out in front of you as your lower your buttocks toward your heels. Allow your head and arms to settle toward the mat, keeping shoulders pulled down away from your ears. Lengthen through the spine as you push your torso back.

Full Body Stretch (Downward Dog): Begin on your hands and knees, keeping hands directly underneath shoulders and knees underneath hips. Slowly straighten the knees as you lift your hips upward and lower your heels to the ground. Breathe steady as your lengthen through the spine and pull your shoulders down away from your ears. If your flexibility allows, lengthen through the arms and lower your chest, shifting your weight back into your heels.

Injury Prevention

After you've been stretching regularly, you may be able to advance to more involved, complex stretches. Including these will help more parts of your body remain flexible and strong. This set of stretches is more advanced and should be tried only if you already feel comfortable with The Basics. Remember to warm up first and never stretch to the point of pain. Know your body's limits. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds, repeating each two or three times, depending on how you feel.

Side-Lying Overhead Stretch: Begin lying on your right side, legs extended, bottom arm bent, and top arm placed on the ground in front of your body for support. Slowly bend your right (bottom) knee, sliding your thigh forward and your foot behind you. Lengthen from your left (top) foot, through your leg, torso and arm, as you extend it overhead. Switch sides.

Back and Shoulder Stretch: Begin sitting on your knees and facing a chair. The chair should be within arm's reach, at least 1-2 feet away from your knees. Reach for the chair with your arms, resting them on the chair seat. Lower your shoulders away from your ears. Bend from the waist to create a long, flat back, extending through your arms. Keeping your arms propped on the chair, lower your chest toward the ground below until you feel a stretch across your chest. Do not attempt this stretch if you feel any discomfort in your lower back.
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