Practicing Pilates during pregnancy can relieve tension and aches on an ever-changing body and help you maintain flexibility and range of motion. Special modifications are to be used, like side-lying positions instead of being on your back. If there's something that feels uncomfortable, stop. And if something feels really good, repeat it! The following are Pilates-based stretches.
Chest Opener: Extend the arms overhead while holding a towel. The towel should have little to no slack it, pulling out to the side. Elbows are soft, not locked, to engage muscles while protecting the joints. Leading with your palms, bring the arms forward then backward about six inches. If this position hurts your lower back, try rolling up a second towel to place underneath your tailbone or sitting on the edge of a throw pillow. Continue motion for 30 seconds.
Side Stretch: Keeping the arms overhead and grasping the towel, lean side to side, returning to center each time. You'll move only a few inches. Keep the towel tight with a focus on pulling it. Move slowly with control. Again, if this position causes discomfort in your lower back, use a second towel rolled up underneath your tailbone or sit on the edge of a pillow. Continue movement for 60 seconds.
Spine Stretch: Begin with chest lifted, legs open to mat-width. Extend the arms in front of you at shoulder height. Tuck you chin to your chest as you curve your spine. Reverse the movement and lift the chest. Pause at the end of each repetition for maximum stretch. Use your breath: Exhale through the mouth as you tuck your chin and curve the spine; inhale as you lift up. If there is any discomfort in the lower back, add the second towel or a pillow, and if there's discomfort in the legs, slide a pillow under the knees. Continue for 60 seconds.
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Hip-Thigh Opener: Lying on one side with the bottom arm underneath the head reaching straight out, stack the legs and bend at the knee. Use pillows to support your back and belly if needed. Keeping the feet together, rotate the top leg 90 degrees or as far as it will let you. You should feel a nice stretch in the groin and hip flexor. Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.
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