Your spine works as a whole, so maintaining good flexibility in the upper part of your spine is very important during pregnancy, to avoid having posture-related aches and pains. Your pectoral muscles (aka pecs) are commonly a source of tension. Yes ladies we do have pecs, they are just nicely hidden!
Your pecs are big fan shaped muscles which attaches from your sternum (breast bone) into your upper arm. When they become tight they pull your shoulders forwards creating that hunched rounded shoulder appearance you associated with bad posture.
If you have this posture for prolonged periods, the flexibility of your upper back and neck will suffer.
Stiffness in the upper back (thoracic spine) and neck (cervical spine) is a very common cause of pain and headaches in pregnancy women. The exaggerated curves of your spine, caused by your ever growing belly pushing your centre of gravity further forwards, cause the muscles around your neck, shoulders and chest to becoming very tight.
Have you ever felt like it is a real struggle to sit tall and pull your shoulders back? This is a good sign that you need to pay more attention to stretching.
There are several ways to stretch your pec muscles, but this is by far one of the most simple and easy to fit into your day.
Start: stand with your arm up to the side of your body at shoulder hight. Place your upper arm on the wall at a corver. Pelvic tilt slightly engaging your core, keep your posture nice and straight. Drop your shoulders away from your ears.
Action: Step your foot forward (on the same side as your elevated arm). Lean your body forwards into a slight lunge while gently turning your body away from your outstretched arm. The movement should come from your hips so your whole torso is aiming to be at a 45-degree angle to your outstretched arm.
You will feel a stretch at the front of your chest and arm. Keep your pelvic tilt on, try not to over arch your lower back.
Breathe in for 4 seconds deeply. As your ribs expand the stretch will become deeper. Breathe out for 4 seconds.
Hold the stretch for 3 deep breaths. Then drop your arm and relax for a few second before repeating on the other arm.
... with Child's Pose for a deeper upper body stretch. Also with feeding time when baby comes! It can be very tricky to maintain an upright posture when feeding your baby, so try this stretch to counterbalance the hunching forwards while feeding.