Stretching During Pregnancy: Baby, Let’s Move!
You need to stretch to wipe off those stretch marks. Let’s beat the pregnancy related physiological sore joints and muscles aches and pains.
During pregnancy, the body is going through vicious changes that produce pain and a physical discomfort at different body sites. To counter these physical and mental stresses, it is very important that the lady should do moderate exercise during pregnancy as well as after the delivery. Here, I must profess that if a pregnant lady wants to be regular with exercise during pregnancy days, then she must take a head start with it prior to conception.
Benefits of Stretching During Pregnancy
Physical exercises especially stretching during pregnancy, is a must but it should be pregnancy specific. Stretching helps in improving blood circulation, stress reduction, limiting weight gain, countering shortness of breath, strengthening pelvic muscles to reduce the labor discomfort, improving posture as well as reducing the joint soreness.
Exercise Recommendations During Pregnancy: Roadway To A Pain‐Free Pregnancy
It is commonly observed that despite the various benefits of stretching and mild exercises, a majority of women avoid working out during pregnancy. It is a common notion that pregnant ladies should not exercise as it might trigger the muscle/joint pains. This, no longer holds true if exercise is done according to pregnancy related recommendations.
Make a workout schedule as soon as you start planning your pregnancy.
- Follow a schedule of moderate exercise up to 3 – 5 times/ week.
- Put an end to exercises that cause stress to your back and avoid working out while you lay on your back.
- Allot an extra chunk of time to warm up,cooling and to the duration of stretching.
- Abstain from weight bearing exercises and prefer water aerobics and stationary bike. If you are used to doing weight training then increase the frequency but remember to use lighter weights.
- Avoid abrupt changes in direction of movements, jumping and intense forward/backward bends.
- No sauna/hot tubs.
- Be friends with complex carbohydrates like wheat, barley, rice etc.
- Stop when your body is asking you to stop.
- Consult your obstetrician if you are new to the ‘world of exercise’ and happen to be pregnant at the same time.
- Master the science of physiological inflammation of muscles and soreness of joints during pregnancy.
The Science Of Physiological Muscle Pains During Pregnancy
Sore joints and inflamed muscles develop as a result of physiological changes in the body which may worsen if proper timely management is not done. You should be well aware of these changes before they begin to manifest.
Weakening Of Pelvic Floor Muscles
During pregnancy, a hormone called Relaxin is released by the body to help your pelvic ligaments and joints stretch in preparation for delivery. Thus, if you follow a strenuous exercise regime like aerobics or jogging then there is a possibility that you may risk the straining of pelvic joints as well as weakening of pelvic floor muscles. This bodily condition is highly likely to trigger lower back pain.
The second trimester of pregnancy is characterized by uterine enlargement. This in turn compresses the vena cava, which is a vein carrying deoxygenated blood from lower part of the body to the heart. In this condition, if you are performing wrong stretches or exercises that exert undue pressure on your back and vena cava then it may hamper blood flow to the heart from lower part of the body. This can worsen into a condition called pregnancy related hypertension and leg swellings. Another factor contributing to the aforementioned condition is a physiological increase in blood volume of 30%‐55%.
Upper or Lower Body Muscle/Joints Pain
During pregnancy, one obvious change is gain in body weight which is most evident around the abdominal area. This changes the center of gravity of the body. In the late second trimester , the fetus pulls the body forward, in reaction to which the body sways back. This swaying back is supported by the joints of lower back, knees and shoulders.
- In order to defy the forward pull of the body, knees hyper extend resulting in stiffness of Hamstrings i.e the calf. This finally leads to leg cramps and nerve impingement of the lower back.
- To compensate for the forward pull of the pregnant body, shoulders lean backwards. This contracts the shoulder blade muscles leading to pain in neck and shoulder joints. Final posture turns out to be ‘head‐ forward posture and a neck tilt’.
NOTE: This critical situation in which body posture is already compromised, if you try attempting random exercises you may worsen the condition.
Strain/Sprain Of Abdominal Muscles
At the end of first trimester, the fetus starts to grow rapidly in size which causes the abdominal wall muscles to separate. During this period, crunches and sit-ups are strictly contraindicated whereas Isometric exercises are recommended.