I have a client who is eight months pregnant with no abnormal complications. For the next month or so, she would like to enhance her flexibility program. I understand that I cannot have her on her back for long periods of time (or on her stomach), so notwithstanding the stretches we do on the "stretch mate" (standing), could you recommend some other stretches? How about SMFR?
In pregnancy, the posterior chain of muscles has to work harder to keep the body erect and may be tighter than usual as a result. I am recommending stretches for hamstrings, hip flexors, calf muscles and one for the pectoralis major to help offset the downward forces from heavier breasts.
- Side-lying Open Ups Stretch for Pectoralis Major. This is especially effective on the clavicular fibers. Lie on your left side with your head on a pillow. Your shoulder is flexed to 90 with forearms and hands together; your hips and knees are flexed to 90. Lift your right forearm/hand and watch it as it passes your face and opens to the side. You are aiming to rest your whole arm on the surface of the bed or floor. Allow your spine and hips to gently rotate toward your right. Rest and breathe at whatever level you can achieve. Return your arm to the start position. Alternate sides; repeat at least once on each side.
- Hamstring Stretch on a Bench. Sit with one leg on the bench and the other on the floor for support. The heel is off the end. Sit up straight and hold the position at 90 degrees of hip flexion with knee extended.
- Gastroc/Soleus. Use the standing version for both muscles with both hands on a wall for support. Keep the toes absolutely in the sagittal plane.
- Hip flexors, Iliopsoas, rectus femoris and tensor fasciae latae. Instructions and illustrations for these stretches are in my article "Hip Extension and Back Pain."