(No you don't really need a stroller for these).
Do you ever go for long walks and experience hip, leg or lower back pain or strain before you reach home?
Here are my top 6 on the go stretches. Great for every avid walker or the expectant mama feeling a bit more pressure than normal.
#1 Standing Calf Stretch
I get really tight calf muscles from walking up all the hills in our area, while pushing a stroller. I often need to stop and have a sip of water and a quick calf stretch. Pregnancy has added extra tension to these muscles and the feet so this is a great stretch to take a break in. It also targets the hamstrings if you are tight there as well.
You can do this with or without holding onto something. Step one foot in front of the other. Sit your weight back into your back leg and bend your back knee. Sit your hips back. Lift your front toes until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg.
Instead of holding for time I count my breaths. And if my breath is faster from walking I take this break to slow my breath down a bit.
Hold each side for anywhere from 15-30 breaths. Repeat on second side.
#2 Crescent Lunge
If you experience tight hip flexors (psoas muscles) this one is for you. Mine are still tight from my cheerleading days. So when I walk or run I tend to over contract these muscles instead of opening the hips and lengthening these long muscles. The psoas connects from the lower back on each side of the spine, running through the pelvis and then connecting in the front of the thighs. Sometimes while I walking (especially pushing a stroller) I have to remind myself to keep my hips open and my chest up, rather than closer the front body inward. This becomes ever more challenging during pregnancy.
One foot in front of the other again. This time keep your weight in both feet. Try to keep the pelvis neutral (hips slightly open) as you bend both knees. Think about lengthening out of the back leg. Opening the front body from the front of the hip, to the chest, to the crown of the head. You can gentle pulse in and out of this stretch to warm up or take a break on the go and hold each side for 10-20 breaths.
#3 Standing Pigeon
Who doesn't love a good hip stretch. This one is a bit of a balance so it's best to find something to hold onto if you're not already holding on to a stroller. Grab the nearest tree or bench. A great one for sciatica and tight hips. Pigeon is one of my all time favourite yoga poses. Doing it standing adds a whole new element is more accessible while pregnant. If you find it too challenging to stand in this stretch, try it sitting instead (where is that park bench?)
Bring your weight into one leg. Bend the knee of your standing leg. Cross the opposite ankle or shin over your bent thigh. Make sure there is no strain or pressure in the knee. You should feel it all in the out hip of the top leg. Now to get a little deeper stretch into the glute, sit the hips back and bend the standing leg even more. Don't forget to breath! Depending on how the standing leg is doing hold for 10-30 breaths. Repeat on second side.
#4 Standing Downward Dog
This is such a great way to do Down Dog even in the studio. It's accessible to those who can't or don't want to put weight on their wrists or go down to the floor. And it feels great for the back. Sometimes I stop in this position while I'm getting things out of the fridge for my two year old. ("Just wait a few more breaths, while mommy finds the apples.")
Find that something to hold on to again. Walk the feet back, sit the hips back and lower the chest. Lengthen the spine and breathe here. Need more of a hamstring stretch? Keep the legs straight. Need to release the lower back? Give a little bend to the knees and sit the hips back more. This ones feels so good you may want to just forget about counting the breath and stay until you feel a release.
#5 Easy Triangle
I call this one 'Easy' Triangle because there is no need to raise your other arm or go any lower over the front foot. Take it easy in this gentle but lengthening side stretch. There is not a lot of twisting that is recommended during pregnancy. But our spine definitely craves it. A good side stretch is a great alternative. There is some gentle hip and upper body rotation happening here. Just enough to feel good.
One foot in front of the other again. Front toes forward, back toes in (so the front hip is externally rotated while the back hip stabilizes). You can place the front arm on a support or on your front hip or thigh. Back hand on hip, Inhale lengthen the spine as you lean into the front hand slightly (keep stabilizing with that back leg/hip). Exhale gently use your top elbow to open the chest towards the sky (there is our gentle twist and rotation). You can do this dynamically (inhale and exhale moving in and out of rotation). Or hold for only 3-5 breaths (try not to overstretch, especially if you're in the second or third trimester).
#6 Warrior II
This one is great for opening the hips, lengthening and strengthening the legs. While holding onto something I like to turn my back toes and hips open even more than I would while holding this pose in a studio class. I like to focus on the back hip here and really lengthen the back leg while the front leg does a bit of the work now to stabilize.
You can do this one right after the Easy Triangle before you switch sides. So the legs stay where they are. Just turn the back toes out to where you feel that back leg and hip open and bend the front knee. Reach out both arms or just the back one. Try leaning away from the front leg and then away from the back leg. Which one feels better to you?
Breathe 3-8 breaths or make it dynamic with the breath moving in and out for more of a warm up. Switch sides and go back to the Easy Triangle then just adjust the feet into Warrior II.
And you can finish it off with another Standing DownDog. Just because it felt so good the first time.
I want to hear from you! What tutorial or sequence do you want to see next? Let me know in the comments or send me a message: email@example.com