The Flexibility Factor During Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a time of many physical changes, and can affect a woman’s ability to exercise. At the moment of conception the hormone relaxin is released to “soften” connective tissue such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage – making a pregnant woman feel more loose and flexible. To better protect your “hormonally loosened” joints at this time, a thorough warm-up and appropriate stretching techniques are extremely important. Do I need more time to warm up? Yes, postural changes, shift in center of gravity and instability can all cause possible injury. A proper warm up decreases this risk as it causes the release of synovial fluid, which plays a major role in preparing the body for the exercises to follow in two ways: it lubricates the joints, and it causes the collagen tissue in the joints to become smaller and thicker, making them stronger. Flexibility exercises or stretching is also important. A good stretch will ease leg cramps, back pain and tension in the neck and shoulders, not to mention boost energy, mood and circulation. But stretch with caution; increasing flexibility should not be a fitness goal during pregnancy. This is easy to do when there is more “play” in the joints, but stretches should not be taken to the point of maximal resistance to avoid muscle strain. Slow, static stretches are both safe and effective choices for the warm up. Flexibility is a factor as you want to maintain what you’ve got. If you’re new to a prenatal exercise program, learning appropriate warm-up and stretching techniques will help to keep your joints lubricated and strong. Ease into your next prenatal exercise workout and feel good during your pregnancy! What moves you? Photo by Judith Halek