Get It Straight Workout

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The Issue: Back Pain

The combination of extra pregnancy weight and poor alignment puts excess pressure on the spinal bones (vertebrae), disks, ligaments and nerves. The common habit of thrusting your pelvis forward makes matters worse. Rather than tucking your pelvis and tailbone under to decompress your spine, which flattens your back, you can train yourself to gently put your pelvis into alignment.

The Solution
Align your spine
Stand barefoot in your normal posture. Do you feel your weight on the front of your feet? If so, back your hips up slightly, until you feel your weight stack evenly over your heels [shown]. Make sure you can lift your toes. As you gain weight throughout your pregnancy, slide your hips back to take the pressure off your lower back and pelvis.

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The Issue: Shoulder, Neck and Arm Pain

New habits, such as sleeping on your side, along with decreased space for breathing (as your baby grows, there's less room in your chest for you to breathe deeply and expand your lungs) can lead to tension in your upper body. Stretching your thoracic spine (the upper part of your back) and shoulders can ease your discomfort.

The Solution
Thoracic spine stretch
Place your hands on the back of a chair, palms facing up. Slowly walk your feet back until your arms and legs are straight. Back your hips up until your torso is fully extended and your hips are behind your feet to create the correct angles [shown]. Take deep breaths so that you feel the sides of your rib cage expanding.

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The Issue: Pelvic and/or Hip Pain

The forward expansion of your body during pregnancy combined with the softening of connective tissues as your body prepares itself for labor can result in pain in your hips and pelvis. Keeping the deep hip rotators (the muscles underneath the buttocks and around the lower hips) flexible can keep pain at bay.

The Solution
Sitting hip stretch
Sit in a chair and bring one ankle across the opposite knee. Wanting to tuck your pelvis under at this point is common, especially if your hips are tight. Instead, untuck your pelvis (in other words, stick your butt out) to increase the stretch in this area [shown]. Sitting on a rolled towel will help you move your pelvis forward into the correct position. Switch legs and repeat.

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The Issue: Leg and Knee Pain

The habit of tucking your pelvis under to relieve back pain, wearing high heels and simply carrying extra pregnancy weight can tighten your hamstring (rear thigh) muscles. Stretching these large muscles will create space in your knee joints and help ease tension in your legs.

The Solution
Hamstring stretch
Standing barefoot, bend forward to place your hands flat on the seat of a firm chair. Slowly straighten both legs. If your hamstrings are very tight, your spine will round up like a mountain. Allow your pelvis to untuck, creating a natural lumbar curve, or "valley," in your spine [shown]. The tighter your muscles, the more you will feel this down the backs of your legs.

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The Issue: Foot Pain and/or Ankle Swelling

Tight calves can reduce circulation in your lower legs. Gently stretching your calves not only soothes achy feet but also helps increase blood flow in your legs, aiding circulation and decreasing ankle swelling.

The Solution
Calf stretch
Place a rolled-up towel or yoga mat on the floor and stand facing it. Place the ball of one foot on the towel, and gently lower your heel to the floor. Take a few seconds to straighten both legs, keeping the thigh muscles relaxed. When you're settled into this position, take a small step forward with the other leg [shown]. To increase the stretch, continue to move the front foot forward. Switch legs and repeat.

Read more about this prenatal workout and how to tweak's your body's alignment for a pain-free pregnancy.

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