Pregnancy has many effects on your body. Carrying around extra weight and fluids can make you feel sore, tired and downright uncomfortable. Stretching may help relieve your aching joints, especially in your legs and hips, which support the weight from your upper body.
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Stretching is an effective tool for any person, but may be even more beneficial while you’re pregnant. Stretching your legs and hips helps decrease muscle tension in those areas, increase flexibility and help you relax, all things your body can benefit from when you’re preparing to give birth, according to “Pregnancy Today” magazine. Additionally, stretching your lower body may help you physically prepare for childbirth.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Your hip flexors are a system of muscles that help you bend your waist and lift your knees. When these muscles are sore, it can make it difficult to pick up objects, get up off the couch and perform basic daily tasks. To stretch your hip flexors, stand at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Put one foot on the first step and grab onto the handrail to support your body. Keep your back leg straight and lean forward, bending your front leg. You should start to feel a stretch in your back leg. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds, then rest. Switch legs and repeat the stretch for your other leg.
Lying Hip and Quad Stretch
The lying hip stretch focuses on your hips and legs and can be done in your living room while you watch TV, or even in bed before you start your day to give you a little more energy. Lie on your left side with your left leg bent slightly to provide support. Bend your right leg at the knee, reach behind your body with your right hand and grab your left foot. Slowly and gently pull your leg back behind your body so your foot moves toward your back. You should feel a stretch all throughout your quadriceps and your right hip. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then relax and turn on your right side and repeat the stretch for your left leg and hip.
Repeated walking and lifting can leave your groin area feeling weak, tired or sore, but you may be at a loss for how to deal with the discomfort. To help stretch out your groin area and hips, sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet up as close to your bottom as possible. Put your feet together and grab your ankles with your hands. Push your elbows against the insides of your knees and gently spread your legs apart. You will feel a stretch in your groin and hips. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then rest and repeat.
Leg and hip stretches can come particularly in handy when you’re getting ready to go or just coming back from a long walk or you’ve been exercising. Spend 10 to 15 minutes warming up and stretching your legs and hips to help prevent soreness and stiffness. If you have a large bath, you can also perform these stretches in warm water, which will help stimulate blood flow and circulation to your legs and hips. Never force a stretch, and stop immediately if you experience discomfort. Pregnancy hormones soften and lengthen all of the body's connective tissues, including ligaments; especially in the last trimester and for about six months after childbirth, your ligaments provide less support and are vulnerable to injury. Stretching can help, but practice any exercise carefully and gently.