These super-simple exercises will knock out annoying pregnancy pains like that.
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Your Feel-Better Plan
The growing cargo in your belly puts new stress on your body. "Many symptoms of pregnancy—pain, dizziness, even heartburn—are related to the way we're carrying this extra load," says Jill Miller, a fitness expert in Los Angeles and creator of pain relief- focused fitness program Yoga Tune Up. (She gave birth to her first child earlier this year!) Try the moves Miller designed to help alleviate the most common health annoyances pregnant women deal with. Added perk: The poses set you up for an easier labor and, after, a smoother time toting around that 10-pound sack of love.
How the Plan Works
How the Plan Works
Choose the move for the issue that's bugging you most—or combine them all into one feel-totally-amazing workout—and do it 3 or 4 times per week.You'll need a yoga mat, a Yoga Tune Up Ball ($12, yogatuneup.com) or tennis ball, two yoga blocks and a stool or chair.
Relieve Heartburn with the Belly Vacuum
As your baby grows and puts more pressure on your tummy, your diaphragm may get weaker and start letting more acid from the stomach sneak up into the esophagus. This exercise keeps the barrier between your diaphragm and esophagus strong.
Stand with good posture, inhale through your nose and bring arms overhead, clasping hands with palms facing up (A). Exhale through your nose, then contract your abs to spread ribs apart without inhaling, feeling an internal stretch in back and core (B). Hold for 3 to 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Ease Low-Back Pain
Ease Low-Back Pain with the Side Elbow Plank
This modified side plank—done against a wall and on your forearm for stability— strengthens both your lower-back muscles and back-assisting obliques, reducing discomfort.
On a yoga mat, lie on right side with right forearm against floor, hand pointing away from heart, elbow directly under shoulder, legs stacked and bottoms of feet against wall (A). Press feet into wall, engage abs, butt and legs and lift up into a side plank, extending left arm above head (B). Hold for 30 to 60 seconds per side, up to 3 times on each side.
Lessen Leakage with an Uneven Squat
"Only doing Kegel exercises for your pelvic floor is like wanting strong arms and only doing biceps curls—you should work your triceps and shoulders too," Miller says. This squat strengthens your entire pelvic floor and helps prep you for the big push.
Place right foot on a stable stool or chair and left foot on ground, left knee bent and feet pointing forward, hands on yoga blocks in front of you (or on ground, if you can reach) (A). With body weight shifted back, hold for 5 breaths, then shift to the right (B), holding for 5 breaths. Repeat 5 times on each side. Tip: Keep your back flat, like you would when standing—don't arch or hunch.
Soothe Shoulder Pain
Soothe Shoulder Pain with the Sideways Waitress
At work, your belly is forcing you farther and farther away from the computer keyboard; that puts more strain on your rotator cuffs, causing pain. This move strengthens your cuffs and gets you ready to lift your little one.
Stand with good posture, upper arms pressed against sides and forearms turned up and pointing forward as if you're holding a tray on each hand (A). Move "trays" back by swiveling forearms without letting shoulder blades slide together or thrusting chest out (B), and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Solve Insomnia with the Jaw Massage
Soft-tissue massage helps release stress, especially in tense trigger points like your jaw. "This move is like a narcotic without a prescription," Miller says. "It knocks you out!"
Lie on right side and place right cheek on a block or firm pillow. Set a Yoga Tune Up Ball or tennis ball under cheek (shown), and slowly move head around—nod head yes and no, open and close jaw, make tiny circles. Move ball to your temple and do the same. Breathe deeply and continue moving ball under head for 3 to 10 minutes per side.
Curb Foot Pain
With hands on a chair or wall for support, stand with a Yoga Tune Up Ball or tennis ball under the arch of foot. Roll ankle from side to side 10 to 20 times. Then place the ball under heel with toes on the floor, smush heel into the ball and briskly roll the heel side to side with as much force as possible, 10 to 20 times. Next, with heel on the floor, place the ball at the base of toes, with toes curling over the ball, and move forefoot from side to side 10 to 20 times. Finally, to stretch all of the muscles in your foot, roll the ball up and down underneath the foot 10 to 20 times. Repeat on other foot.