Sensitive knees and swollen ankles are just two reasons pregnant patients of mine struggle with some floor based exercise. If that sounds like you, you may benefit from this standing variation of the psoas muscle stretch we went through in an earlier post. This is a good stretch you can easily incorporate into your day at any time.
If we imagine your abdominal cavity is a box around your uterus where baby is growing, your psoas muscles make up the lateral walls of that box. When the psoas get tight that box changes from a nice symmetrical square to more of a funky trapezoid shape, creating less space for baby to wriggle around on the tight side. This will also have an effect on how balanced your body is on the whole. When huge postural muscles like your psoas get tight on one side, your torso will lean towards the tight side, creating an imbalance of your pelvis.
If both psoas muscles get tight, which is common for people who sit a lot with desk-based jobs, it creates an increase in your lower back curve (increased lumbar lordosis), tightness in your hip joints and a forward tilt of your pelvis. This is called a lower crossed posture and is a very common cause of lower back aches and pains during pregnancy and beyond.
You can see why chiropractic care has a huge emphasis on performing gentle psoas massage and stretching throughout a prenatal treatment.
Here is one way you can help reduce tension in your psoas muscles during pregnancy yourself.
Start: Stand tall with feet together, with a slight pelvic tilt. Looking straight ahead and chin tuck to stop your chin/head jutting forward.
Action: Reach your left arm up by drawing a big capital ‘C’ out from the side of your body till your finger tips are pointing to the ceiling. Firstly REACH UP towards the ceiling as you breathe IN. Then as you breathe OUT, REACH OVER as if you are creating a capital ‘C” with your body. Maintain the upwards reaching motion so not to crunch up your opposite side.
Repeat for 3 deep breaths, each time reaching further up and over.
On your third exhalation, bring your arm down in the big ‘C’ shape again, until you are back to standing straight and tall.
Tip: Make sure you don’t hunch your shoulders toward your ears.
... with Childs pose. Come down onto your hands and knees and sit back into the active resting pose.