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5 Exercises to Reduce Pregnancy Aches and Pains

pregnancy-aches-pains-back-pain-450x340Pregnancy usually brings with it a fair share of aches and pains. Whether it’s your hips, lower back, upper back and neck, it’s quite common to feel some discomfort as your little one grows.

Luckily, though, there’s much we can do in order to decrease those aches and pains, and to keep your body feeling too creaky and crunchy.

Below is a quick circuit of stretches and exercises you can complete daily throughout your pregnancy. It won’t be strenuous but it will help to get your blood pumping and your body moving.

Do one or two sets through the exercises on most days of the week, but especially on non-workout days. The whole circuit shouldn’t take more than five minutes to complete. You could also use it as a dynamic warmup to your workout.

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The only equipment you’ll need is a bench, couch, or chair (make sure it’s secured and won’t slide).

Disclaimer: As always, please check with your doctor to confirm you have no contraindications to exercise in your pregnancy. These exercises are safe to do from Week 1 – Week 42 (…a little movement to induce labour?!) so long as you are feeling “comfortable” doing them.

Thank you so much to my friend Dr. Kate Durnin, who is a Chiropractor at Peak Health and Performance in Calgary Alberta, for modeling in these photos.

Wide Child’s Pose with Side Stretch

  • Knees about as wide as a yoga mat, toes together. Bum to the heels and focus on turning the tailbone up to the ceiling. Stretch the arms forward and rest the head on the floor. Hold for five breaths.
  • Walk the arms to the right to feel a gentle stretch down the left side of the body. Root your left hip downwards. Hold for five breaths. Then walk the arms to the left to feel a gentle stretch down the right side of the body. Root your right hip down. Hold for five breaths.
  • You can rest your belly on a bolster, pillow, or rolled up towel to feel more supported.

NOTE: If this is painful in your pelvis or you’re experiencing symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) skip it. You can try standing facing a wall, stretch the arms up the wall, walk the hands over to one side to feel a gentle stretch, and then walk the hands over to the other side.

Clamshells

  • In side-lying position with your head, hips, and heels in line, support your head with your bottom arm and stretch your top arm out front and press your hand into the floor.
  • Exhale and squeeze your glutes to lift the top knee up into the air. Your heels stay together so the range of motion is quite small. Your glutes should be burning on the leg you’re lifting.
  • Do 10 to 15 repetitions per side.

NOTE: A common form break is to let the hips rock backwards. Press your hand into the floor so you keep your weight shifted slightly forward.

Hip Thrusts

  • Roll into your starting position.
  • Exhale as you squeeze your glutes to lift the hips up in the air. You can place the hands behind the head to support your neck. Inhale as you lower yourself back down towards the floor, keeping a small arch in your lower back.
  • Do 15 to 20 repetitions.

NOTE: Your whole body will move as one unit through the hip thrust. Your ribcage and hips stay in line on the way and the way down.

Bodyweight Squats

  • Set up in good alignment, with the feet a bit wider than shoulder distance and a comfortable foot placement for you (this is often slightly turned out to the sides).
  • Inhale as you sit backwards and down into your hips. You’ll keep a nice small arch in the lower back even at the bottom of your squat.
  • Exhale to stand back up to the top, squeezing the legs strongly.
  • Do 12 to 15 repetitions.

NOTE: Make sure to squeeze your glutes as you stand, but don’t drive your hips forward to flatten your lower back. I cue my clients to “leave your bum behind you at the top”]

Wall Slides

pregnancy-aches-pains-wallslides-450x340

  • Stand with your back against a wall. Walk your feet 6 inches away from the wall. You want to keep the ribs stacked over your ribs (often, we need to think about gently drawing the front ribs down. You’ll feel some action in your abdominals here). You don’t want to press your low back flat to the wall, though.
  • Place the arms on the wall at 90 degree angles, with the forearms, wrists and hands drawing back into the wall.
  • Slide your arms up the wall until they’re straight above your head. It’s OK if you can’t keep the arms connected with the wall the whole time, just do your best to keep reaching back, but focus on mastering the alignment of the rest of the body first.
  • Do 10 to 15 repetitions.

NOTE: Watch that the lower back is keeping the gentle curve but not arching hard as you raise the arms.

Keep moving to work out those pregnancy aches and pains, mamas!

Exercises To Do And Avoid During And After Pregnancy

There are so many myths about exercising during and after pregnancy, it can be hard to know if you’re doing the “right” thing. Our education materials are carefully vetted by OB/GYNs, PhDs, Registered Dietitians, Women’s Health Physiotherapists, and Pre and Postnatal Exercise Experts, and we have put together this FREE handbook where you’ll learn:

  • The best exercises to do during and after pregnancy
  • Exercises to avoid during and after pregnancy

Whether you’re a mom (or a mom-to-be), or a trainer (who may also be a mom), we have you covered. Select from these options below to receive your free handbook to help you or your clients choose the right exercises for healthy moms and healthy babies.

1. Select Your Handbook
2. Enter Your Information
About The Author: Jessie Mundell

Jessie Mundell is a Girls Gone Strong Strongest You Coach, a certified kinesiologist and a Precision Nutrition Level 1 coach, as well as an author and mother. She specializes in pre and post-natal exercise and corrective exercise. Learn more about Jessie on her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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