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Aquatic Stretches for Pregnant Women

posted Oct 9, 2015, 4:26 PM by Sandy Karlek   [ updated Oct 9, 2015, 5:31 PM ]

While it may be impossible to do a plank on land anymore, there is a way you can maintain your muscle tone and stay fit through your pregnancy.

During the term of a pregnancy, women often feel increased pain and stiffness in their hips, legs and back. Combining the elements of water with gentle stretches will improve circulation, range of motion, coordination and flexibility. The hydrostatic pressure of the water combined with the static stretches is a gentle and very effective way to help maintain your mobility and alleviate tight and sore muscles.

You may have a negative connotation with static stretching. Rest assured, the water temperature helps maintain the warmth in your muscles and negates the disadvantages of static stretching. Static stretching improves muscle interactions and should be done regularly to keep the muscle tissue healthy. Stretching in the water provides a massaging effect on your muscles and the buoyancy of the water allows for virtually no pressure on your joints and ligaments.

Below are videos of five static aquatic stretches. Before you begin, please be advised:

  • Listen to your body and do what feels comfortable to you.
  • Maintain a proper form when stretching and do not over stretch.
  • To avoid overheating, the pool temperature should be 82-85 degrees.
  • As you stretch, exhale slow and deep breaths from your diaphragm, focusing on your balance and position
  • If you have health or medical concerns, please consult your physician before doing these exercises.

1. Aquatic Plank

Holding onto a noodle, kick board or flotation device, position your hands directly below your shoulders balancing your body in the water. Legs together stretched out behind you, you can rest your toes on the bottom of the pool, or slightly off the bottom of the pool for higher difficulty. Once you are balanced, hold the position for 10-30 seconds, depending on your comfort level.

2. Reverse Aquatic Plank

Placing the flotation device behind your body, gently bring your arms away from your body and lean backwards, keeping a firm, straight body. Again, bring your hands directly below your shoulders, press your hips up and hold the balance for 10-30 seconds, depending on your comfort level.

3. Hamstring Stretch

Standing shoulder-depth in water, press your shoulders, back and hips against the pool wall bringing your heels to the edge of the pool. Place a flotation device under your right foot letting it naturally raise until you feel your hamstring stretch. Holding your posture against the wall, hold the stretch 10-30 seconds, depending on your comfort level. Then switch legs and do the same with your left leg, holding it the same amount of time as your right. 

4. Forward Hamstring Stretch

Holding a noodle, kick board or flotation device with two hands, gently lean forward bringing one leg back. Keeping the same straight position on the surface of the water as you did up against the wall, balance on one leg as you stretch your arms forward and press your opposite heel to the surface of the water. Once you are balanced, hold the stretch 10-30 seconds, depending on your comfort level. Gently stand up and repeat again with your opposite leg. 

5. Side Stretch

Similar to the Forward Hamstring Stretch, hold on to the flotation device with your right hand only and lean to the right, lifting your left leg the opposite direction. Once you are balanced, hold the stretch 10-30 seconds, depending on your comfort level. Gently stand up and repeat again with your opposite leg.