What are some upper body stretches I can do when I'm pregnant?

A few stretches for the upper body that can be performed during pregnancy include the door stretch for the chest, a modified back stretch with the arms against a wall, and a sidebend.

To perform the door stretch (chest) stand in a doorway with each of your elbows to the side bent 90 degrees and hands on the wall. Slightly lean through the doorway and hold this position for 30 seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch through your chest.

To perform the modified back stretch, step to the side of the same doorway, and continue to face the wall. With your hands next to one another slide them up the wall in front of you until they are fully extended. Step back slightly as you’re extending your arms, leaning forward until you feel a stretch through your shoulders and back. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.

Last, turn around, and raise one hand straight into the sky. With the other hand reach down your leg, towards your knee and slightly bend to the side. Once you feel a stretch in your side, hold this position for 30 seconds. Then switch sides and repeat.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Try these exercises to make your upper body more limber:
  1. Two Things at Once (stretches shoulders and upper back): Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Reach both of your arms to the left at shoulder height while looking over your right shoulder. Hold the stretch and take three deep breaths. Moving slowly, reverse sides, reaching to the right while looking over your left shoulder. Repeat once. Keep your shoulders relaxed and down, and for variety during the pose, twist your hands in unison.
  2. Ladybug Reach (lengthens chest, neck, and arm muscles): While standing, place your fingers on your shoulders and raise your elbows to your sides, shoulder height. As you inhale, reach out with one arm, making an arc with your hand. Follow the moving hand with your gaze. Focus on opening your chest. Exhale and bring your fingers back to the top of your shoulder. Alternate sides, five times each arm.
  3. Child's Pose (stretches and releases your lower back and spine): Kneel with your knees shoulder width apart. Drop your hips toward your heels, placing your belly between your thighs and relaxing your head to the floor. Make sure you do not rest your weight on your forehead and neck. You should avoid this pose if you have knee problems. Hold this pose for 20 seconds to 2 minutes. Put a chair in front of you to assist you in the move if you need it.
  4. Back Scratch (stretches upper back and triceps): Without weights, grab your right elbow above your head with your left hand and slowly walk your right hand down your back. When you feel the stretch, hold for three deep breaths. Relax your shoulders down away from your ears. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Listening for Baby (helps relieve neck and shoulder tension): With your feet directly below your knees and continuing to hold your hand weights relaxed down at your side, inhale and on the exhale slowly tilt your head to the right until you feel a stretch in your neck. Hold for two deep breaths. Slowly bring your head to the center, then tilt your head to the left. Hold while you breathe deeply two times. Repeat.
YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.