Now that you have made the decision to start or continue exercising, it may be helpful to learn some of the different techniques to improve your flexibility and increase your strength. Before engaging in strength exercises, it's a good idea to master the stretches that will warm up your muscles and prepare them for exercise.

All About Stretching

You need to stretch the muscles of each major muscle group at least three times per week. This will keep you flexible to help you avoid strains.

Stretching avoids pulled muscles and increases your range of motion. Exercise makes you stretch your muscles beyond their usual length. If the muscle cannot easily meet the demand for more length or more force, there is a danger of strain. Routinely stretching your muscles and building your muscle fitness slowly decreases your chances of straining them. Keep in mind that your joints and ligaments may be looser during pregnancy, so you should be careful to avoid overstretching.

The following are suggested stretches for each major muscle group. There are many different effective ways to stretch your muscles. Feel free to add other exercises. Schedule time to do these stretches at least three times a week-before and/or after exercise, at another time, or both, depending on what feels best for you. Try to avoid stretches where you spend a significant amount of time on your back.

All stretching should be done in the following manner:

  • stretch until you feel tension in your muscles, not pain or discomfort;
  • hold your stretch for about 30 seconds;
  • do not bounce. Bouncing tends to overextend the muscles and increase the likelihood of strain; and
  • go gently and slowly!

The following are suggested stretches for each major muscle group:

Feel free to add other exercises. Schedule time to do these stretches at least three times a week-before and/or after exercise, at another time, or both, depending on what feels best for you. The following are suggested strength exercises: