Tuesday, 29 November 2016

9 Stretches That You Will Love During And After Pregnancy

Stretching during pregnancy can relieve a lot of discomfort and pain. Im pretty sure most of us complain about back/hip pain as well as that horrendous cramp some of us can get in our calves in the middle of the night.

During pregnancy your body massively changes to make room for your baby and prepare for birth. As pregnancy goes on you will find that you will become a bit off balance due to your growing uterus, this can make you feel a bit wobbly on your feet at times. Your body will also produce a  hormone called relaxin, this loosens your body in preparation for your baby bypassing down through your birth canal. However this hormone affects the whole body which makes it difficult for your other joints to keep stable and supported.
This is why stretching can be really beneficial during and after pregnancy as not only will it help you with your pain/discomfort, but it will help strengthen and realign your muscles which will help stabilise and support your body.

Before we get to the stretches here are some important Tips:

Warm up

Before your begin your stretches make sure you warm up as you do not want to cause any injury. e.g A brisk walk/dancing around/ glute kicks/arm swings/ knee raises ect. 

No bouncing

Make sure you do not bounce during stretching as this can result in pulling your muscles. Focus on holding the stretch until your tension feels at ease. Ideally you want to hold your stretch between 30- 60 seconds.

Do not over stretch

As I mentioned above your body contains a hormone called relaxin' which loosens up your joints. You will find that this will make you more flexible and your range of movement will be more than what it used to be. Some women can actually have the reverse affect which is the bodies way of protecting itself from over stretching. So you could actually find you are a bit stiff throughout your pregnancy. However, if you do find that you have become very flexible make sure you do not over stretch so your stretch should feel nice rather than painful as you do not want to cause an injury. 


Breathing helps you relax and you need to be relaxed during stretching. This can also help you practise your breathing for birth as the more relaxed you are the better your birth will go. Unfortunately our bodies naturally tense up to protect us when something feels like pain so really try and focus on your breathe during stretching as this will help you gain control for your big day. Breathe in through your nose into your diaphragm(not chest) and slowly out through your mouth. 

9 Pregnancy Stretches

Child pose
Muscles: Back, hips, pelvis, adductors(inner thighs), shoulder, quadriceps(tops of thighs).
Tips: Knees wide toes together, push your bottom back to your heels, get your bump comfy and leave your arms extended with your palms facing up for an open rotation through your arms and shoulders.

Cat Stretch
Muscles: Back, shoulders, neck, hips/pelvis, tummy.
Tips: On all fours, weight equally spread between limbs, wrists underneath shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Relax your head down, exhale and round up through your spine, inhale taking your spine back to neutral spine/starting position.

Glute stretch
Muscles: Glutes, hips/pelvis, lower back, adductors. (This can also be done sitting on a chair. My fav stretch)
Tips: Sitting comfortably lift one leg over the other and open up through your hip. Apply a little pressure to your open thigh if you need too. 

Neck lengthening
Muscles: Shoulder, neck and spine.
Tips: Kneeling/sitting/standing lift your spine tall pushing your shoulders down your spine towards the floor making space between your shoulders and neck. Slightly tuck your chin in to lengthen through your neck(Think of a ballerina).

Shoulder stretch
Muscles: Shoulders', neck, arms, back.
Tips: Kneeling/sitting/standing round your spine forward caving in your chest, clasp your hands together relaxing your head in, taking your arms out in front, stretching your shoulder blades apart.

Hip stretch 
Muscles: Hips/pelvis, adductors, back, glutes(bottom)
Tips: Sitting as tall as your feel comfortable with no unsettling pain, open up through your hips, apply a little pressure to both thighs so they stay in one position, lengthen through your spine and push your shoulders'  down making space between your shoulders and neck.

Side bend
Muscles: Obliques, hips/pelvis, chest, ribs, back.
Tips: Sitting/standing bending over to one side. Lengthen through your side, right through to the tips of your fingers, keep your heart and bump open. Make sure you do not hold onto tension in your neck.

Chest stretch
Muscles: Chest, neck, ribs, shoulders, tummy.
Tips: Lengthen both arms out pulling thumbs back, relax your head back comfortably, and relax your shoulders.

Hip flexor stretch
Muscles: Hips/pelvis, quads.
Tips: Try to keep weight into the front leg/foot, tuck pelvis under, lengthen through your spine pushing your weight forwards, but keep your front knee behind your toes..

I would recommend that you carry on stretching post pregnancy as you will find new aches and pains due to different repetitive mummy requirements. i.e picking up your baby, breastfeeding, holding baby, lifting/carry, rocking ect. Your core muscles will also be very weak which will easily allow pain and tension to occur so be aware as you will need to restrengthen these muscles correctly. You can do this safe and effectively with my 'myMummyFitness' program or my 'Rehab your abs' (diastasic-recti) program. Email kimmyfitnesspt@gmail.com for more information on my mummy exercises programs and make sure you check out my 'pregnancy' page for lots of useful pregnancy information.


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

10 Reasons Why You Should Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercising during pregnancy is very beneficial for yourself and for your baby 'If mummy feels good baby feels good too'. Of course this does not mean you have to run marathons or throw gigantic weights around, you can choose to maintain your current fitness routine or take it down a notch but I wouldn't suggest aiming for any personal bests or participating in extreme sports. 

As some of you may know i am 37 weeks pregnant! Woohayyy...  My second baby boy is on the way.Luckily I have been able to keep active during my pregnancies which is good for me as I am very passionate about exercise. And of course I need to keep up with my 2 and half year old son(an athlete already).
If you are new to exercise then I would recommend prenatal Pilates/Yoga classes and swimming. 

Exercising during pregnancy is completely your choice. You have to expect yourself to be very unpredictable and to allow your body to take the lead. Sometimes your brain will want to do more but your body just can not, please listen to your body (I am forever telling myself this). Focus on yourself and your growing baby, try not to compare yourself to others' as every ladies' pregnancy is different. 

However, if you have been doing regular exercising before pregnancy then definitely continue, just listen to your body and make the changes when you need too, 'mumma' knows best'.

10 reasons why you should exercise during your pregnancy

  • Happy Hormones- pregnancy is like riding an emotional rollacoaster for 9 months. Sometimes you will feel on top of the world and sometimes you will have some pregnancy blues. This is very normal, yes it is wonderful that you are pregnant but sometimes you may suffer with anxiety/depression. You are flooded with so many new hormones your body is rapidly changing you have to expect yourself to feel a little low now and again. This is where exercising can hugely help as serotonin is released which will naturally increase your mood. You don't have to go crazy to release this hormone, so get moving! However, please seeker further advice if you do feel constantly low. 

  • Helps maintains fitness levels- If you loved your fitness before being pregnant you will be keen to stay on top of it during. Of course you will have to amend the way you train but you can still push yourself and walk away feeling fabulous. 

  • Reduce stress- Exercise can be very therapeutic for some individuals. Therefore some may feel it is very important for them to carry on with exercise during pregnancy to help manage their stress.

  • Prepares your body for labour- Childbirth requires stamina, strength and plenty of determination. Exercise demands the exact same. This is where you can help prepare yourself for childbirth so you are familiar with the determination and are able to use your strength and control that you have been using in your exercises. Labour massively requires control and stamina, some may feel completely out of control during childbirth especially in your first pregnancy so it is very useful staying connected with your body. (I describe childbirth similar to a HIIT session hehe)

  • Reduces constipation- Constipation is very common during pregnancy so say hello' to very slow bowel movement. Throughout most of our pregnancy our intestines are squashed which means our digestive system goes at a snail pace. So move more to get things moving, and eat less but more regularly to feel more comfortable.

  • Improves sleep- Getting a full nights sleep becomes impossible. Your mind is constantly thinking/worrying, legs are cramping, you just cannot get comfortable and the amount of times you will need to pass urine is uncountable... Exercising can help relax the mind and body aswel as stimulate blood circulation which will reduce leg cramping and calf pain- so you do have hope with being able to sleep better.

  • Reduces pregnancy discomfort- It is no secret that our growing baby puts extra pressure on our joints and back therefore keeping active will reduce discomforts. Stretching can help with your back pains as well as pregnancy pilates/yoga. Cardio/walking can help increase blood circulation, leg cramps and vicarious veins. Swimming/water aerobics can be very soothing due to the water being able to support your bump. (I must say I love being in water with this pregnancy). Exercising can also safely get the baby to shift around abit if they are causing discomfort in a certain position.

  • Me time- Exercising during your pregnancy will allow you to get some time to yourself which is very important. Whether it is a pregnancy class or your own gym session, either one is great.

  • Quicker post labour recovery- Your body is more likely to 'bounce back' quicker if you were able to workout throughout your pregnancy. This is due to your body being fitter and most likely to have gained excessive unnecessary weight. 

Have a Happy,Healthy Pregnancy!

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