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Helpful Stretches

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We have all heard the saying that everything in our body is connected and tension or torsion in one area, affects another. How many of your believe it?....

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Tension in one place creates it in another and if you don't believe it, I would like you to try a little experiment now. Sit and clench your jaw as hard as you can and as you do it, feel what happens in your pelvic floor.

Now try squeezing and bearing down, what do you feel in your pelvic floor?

All of the fascia, muscles, ligaments, bones, organs in our body are connected with one another. The nerves that supply every part of our body exit our skull or spine at various levels, so our spinal health, flexibility and vitality have a direct effect on the function of our muscles, organs and tissues and vice versa. The following can really help to create balance in your pelvis and spine in the lead up to your birth to make the journey smoother for you and your baby working together. Spend some time each day or each week working on the following alongside your current exercise pattern or lack thereof.

Soles of the Feet:

Your feet carry you everywhere and they are often so neglected. Treat them to a reflexology treatment if you can or ask a friend or companion to give them a lovely rub. You can even massage them yourself with your hands or use a small ball, foam roller, candle, log or a spikey ball to help roll underneath the soles to ease tension which can directly mirror tension in the pelvic floor (just like the jaw)

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Calves:

The calf muscles blend from the fascia of the soles of the feet (which you have just relaxed beautifully doing the technique above) up the back of the leg to blend directly with the hamstrings. So, yes, you have guessed it, they are directly linked to your pelvis. Tight calves, means a tight pelvis. Lots of us have shortene calves due to high heel wearing and exercise as well as driving. You can stretch your calves in a number of ways but the basic principle is to move your toes closer to the front of your shins.

You can stand on a step on the balls of your feet and drop your heels down, one at a time and together.

You can combine with a hamstring stretch using a scarf, teatowel or exercise band around the ball of your foot and pull towards you

You can lean against a wall with your hands, put one leg behind the other and drop down as if doing a lunge, tryig to get your heel flat onto the floor.

Downward dog is also a lovely way to stretch the calf muscles. You can peddle your legs one at a time to make it less intense or to focus if one side is tighter than the other.

Always do both sides to help find balance.

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Hamstrings:

The hamstrings attatch directly onto your sitting bones. They have a direct effect on the pelvis. Tightness and imbalance is common due to our sedentary lifestyle, driving cars, crossing legs, etc. Ideal hamstring flexibility is equal to or greater than a 90 degree angle when you lie on your back and raise your straight leg. If you can't get the sole of your feet to face the ceiling when your legs are straight, your hamstrings need some love!

You can do hamstring stretches in a variety of positions but the idea is always the same. You are reaching for your toes with your legs straight and your heels pushing away from your body rather than your toes. The can be done standing, leaning down towards your toes, sitting, leaning towards your toes with your legs together (or apart if you need space for your bump), lying on your back or propped up using your hands or a scarf or exercise bang around your foot to help to pull your leg gently towards you.

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Gluteals:

Those glutes are so important for holding you upright, powering you when walking, squatting, lunging, etc. Tight glutes cause a huge majority of low back pain so stretching out those beauties is so important and can feel so wonderful. You can roll your glutes with a roller or ball, much like the soles of the feet. If it is too intense to sit on the roller or ball, lean them against the wall instead.

To stretch the glutes, the pidgeon pose in yoga is deep and feels wonderful or you can do a similar position lying on your back propped up or even sitting and leaning forward. Choose the depth that is right for you and breathe into a stretch rather than forcing anything.

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Psoas:

Balancing your psoas muscles, balances the two muscles that are effectively guiding your baby into your pelvis. Lie propped up on your back and then you stabilise your pelvis by holding one knee up towards your chest whilst the other leg hangs off the end of a bed or sofa. The hanging leg is the one being stretched. You can also do this off the side of a bed or sofa as shown. You can use a trochanter roll as shown in the Walcher technique if the surface you are using is not high enough. You can use a table or kitchen counter or even a bar if you have a friendly landlord!

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Adductors:

These are the muscles that bring your legs together. If they are tight, they can hold the outlet of the pelvis more closed if the legs are tense. So it is best to make sure they are nice and supple. You can do this wil the butterfly yoga pose as shown. Sit comfortably and allow your knees to drop out as far as they can without discomfort. You may with to have a cushion underneath your bottom to help if your muscles are tight and to angle your pelvis forward slightly. Flutter your knees like the wings of a butterfly. This technique may not be appropriate if you have pelvic girdle pain.

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