Post Natal

5 post-pregnancy back, neck and shoulder exercises and stretches for new mums

5 post-pregnancy back, neck and shoulder exercises and stretches for new mums

The first few months after having a baby involves a whole lot of carrying, rocking, settling, feeding and baby wearing. The majority of your day (and night!) is spent holding a heavy weight (baby) in front of you, often in hunched postures. This, plus the changes in core strength during and after pregnancy, can place a whole lot of tension through your neck, upper back and shoulders. Pain in these areas is common after having a baby. These stretches, done regularly, can help even out the load on your spine and muscles, and reduce pain. All you need is a foam roller, or a rolled-up towel.


Chest stretch

1.     Place the roller/towel on the floor and lie on it with it running lengthwise along your spine. Make sure the roller supports your head. Your bottom can be either on the roller if it’s long enough, or on the floor. Make sure there’s a small gap underneath your lower back, and your ribcage is gently tucked down.

2.     Bend your knees, and have your feet flat on the floor, about hip width apart.

3.     Extend your arms out to ‘goal posts’ on either side of you, and gently let your elbows sink towards the floor.

4.     Relax into the pose, finding a point of stretch across your chest, but not pain.

5.     Spend approximately one minute here, breathing slowly and deeply, letting your arms drop ever so slightly with each exhale.

Snow angel arms

1.    In the same position as the chest stretch, you can now move into a more dynamic chest and shoulder stretch. Start with your arms by your side, at the same height as your hips.

2.    As you breathe in slowly, bring your arms out to your side, then all the way up over your head, like you’re making snow angels in the snow. Keep your shoulders down away from your ears, and your lower rib cage tucked down towards your hips.

3.    Exhale, and slowly return your arms down towards your hips, through your snow angel arms.

Upper back stretch

1.    Place the roller on the floor across the area you will lie on. Lie on the roller, with your bottom on the floor, knees bent, and feet on the floor.

2.    Start with the roller across your bra strap line. Bring your hands behind your head for gentle support, and slowly lie back over the roller, stretching your upper back.

3.    Breathe in, then on your exhale, slowly lift your upper body back up to a neutral position (not a crunch).

4.    Continue to stretch back gently, maybe going a bit further into the stretch each time. Repeat 20 times. This stretch can feel pretty intense, so start off with little movements, and with time it should get easier.

Book openings

1.    Lie on your side with your knees bent. You can have a pillow under your head and one between your knees. Make sure your hips are stacked, and shoulders are stacked.

2.    Extend both arms straight out in front of you, palms together, like a closed book. Inhale deeply.

3.    As you exhale, start to open your top arm up and over behind you like a book opening up. Follow your fingers with your gaze.

4.    Rotate your chest around, but keep your hips stacked, so that the rotation is coming from your mid back.

5.    Inhale to return to the starting position. Repeat 10x on each side. You might like to hold the open position for a few breaths if that feels good.

Neck stretches

1.    Sit upright in your chair, with your bottom slid right back into the chair. Lengthen tall through your spine.

2.    Keeping your shoulders down, tip your right ear towards your right shoulder to find a stretch at the left side of the neck. You can add gentle pressure with your right hand on your head. Hold for 30 seconds.

3.    Then rotate your head so your nose is pointing to your right armpit. Again, you can add gentle pressure with your right hand on your head. Hold for 30 seconds.

4.    Repeat on the other side.


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