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  • Writer's pictureJulie McLean, R.KIN

Be Cautious when Stretching During Pregnancy - Overstretching can lead to a Variety of Injuries

Updated: Mar 10

When you are pregnant and even after pregnancy you should be cautious not to overstretch.

We often think that when a muscle feels tight it must need to be stretched. This is not always true. Think of your muscle like an elastic band. If an elastic band is already overstretched, what happens when you stretch it more? Answer: It weakens the elasticity of the elastic band and can sometimes cause micro-tears. Your muscles and tendons actually become weaker and are no longer protecting your joints the way they should.

Overstretching not only puts your muscles and tendons at risk for an injury, but your ligaments as well. Ligaments hold your joints together and when they get stretched this causes your joints to become unstable. Unstable joints can rub together and wear out the joint capsule causing premature osteoarthritis.

During pregnancy it is easy to get excited about our increased flexibility. What causes this?

The hormone RELAXIN!

Relaxin softens the cartilage, ligaments and tendons in your joints. The intended purpose is to increase the flexibility and soften the sacroiliac and hip joints to accommodate the passing of the baby through the pelvis. Unfortunately, it effects your other joints as well putting pre-& post-natal women and women in general at a higher risk for joint injuries.

An interesting side note is that females have increased relaxin during the second half of their mentrual cycle. Studies show that high performance female athletes are at a higher risk of injury during this time.

I'm hesitant to provide a list of muscles not to overstretch because even though I’m writing this blog for pre & post natal women, you are still an individual with a unique exercise history, unique movements, unique injuries, unique work life, unique everything! The risk of me handing out generalized advise and telling everyone to do this and don’t do that is, it may or may not be true for you based on your body mechanics. Therefore, as I give you this list of stretches to avoid, be mindful that this may apply to 80% of you, but there are 20% of you that this may not be applicable.

Here is the generalized list:

Avoid overstretching your hamstrings, abdominal muscles, upper back and even triceps. Instead, stretch chest, biceps, quads and calves.

The best way to stay safe when exercising is to be assessed by a Registered Kinesiologist who specializes in Pre & Post Natal Programming and Training. They can help you learn more about your body and will provide you with a safe program that will account for individual difference that show up after the Initial Kinesiology Assessment.

You may also want to consider working with an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner who specializes in this area. They can help relieve muscle tension with gentle therapeutic techniques. This can help with sore and strained muscles that results during and after pregnancy. Osteopaths also treat C-Section scars and help new mothers re-align their musculoskeletal system for optimal function and strength. Which you will need as a new Mom.

Some Osteopath also treats babies (early intervention is key):

In order for babies to grow and develop optimally their tissues need to be free from restriction.  Their tissues require a healthy blood supply and optimal nerve firing to balance the nervous system.  The soft tissue technical approach to infant manual therapy is gentle, subtle and always within the comfort of your child's tolerances.  

Common reasons to bring your infant in for osteopathic care include:  neck tension/flat spot on head, reflux, sinus congestion, fussy/difficult to soothe baby, inability to latch comfortably at breast or bottle, delayed at reaching motor milestones, unwillingness and protest in certain positions, early rolling, digestive and elimination issues, chronic ear infections, hip dysplasia, breeched births, difficult laboring, cerebral palsy, chronic ear infections.

We would love to have the opportunity to work with you. To book with one of our practitioners at our London, Ontario studio click below.

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