With a combination of strengthening and stretching exercises, you can soothe your pregnancy hip pain with just 5 moves. Expecting mamas do NOT want to miss out on these tips!
Hip mobility is vital in pregnancy
While carrying your baby in pregnancy, your hips are going to carry much of the weight (pun intended hehe). Causing them to become stiff, sore, tight and overall fatigued. Our bellies draw our pelvis forward, chronically tightening the hip flexors. The adjustment of our center of gravity moving towards the front of the body directs the hips and gait to externally rotate, making the glutes work overtime. Having to sleep on our sides can also put a lot of pressure on the outer hips. This combination can make for one uncomfortable mama. And when our belly grows, we become limited in the stretches and range of motion we were once used to working in to find relief.
But I’m here to help! With a variety of dynamic and static stretches to compliment the right activation, your hips can feel weightless again. Or as weightless as a pregnant woman can feel LOL.
How to relieve prenatal pelvic pain
Like I said before there is not one move or stretch that will be the quick fix for this. Because we are busy moms and do more than one thing! We sit, stand, walk, work, exercise, drive, carry, cook, clean, and so much more throughout our day. Everyone’s movement patterns are different, and happen at a different frequency. So you may come to find that you need extra reps or time in certain stretches and moves. Whether it is because you have a desk job, or are on your feet all day, or have to pick up your toddler 700 times. That is okay. Do what YOUR body needs and take the time to really identify your problem areas.
With that being said, we all are carrying extra weight in the belly. And the all day, everyday work of that will cause similar imbalances in every woman. Adressing these imbalances and working to correct them on a regular basis will provide you with that relief. And good news, it’s really simple! We want to relax and lengthen the tight and overworked muscles while activating or strengthening the antagonist (or opposing) muscle groups. All while working through a full range of motion. This will improve mobility and help soothe that pregnancy hip pain.
Pelvic exercises for 3rd trimester
We want to approach the strengthening exercises in a well rounded way. Being sure to work the hips in all directions, front, back, rotationally and laterally. We also want to attack the large and smaller muscles of the hips and thighs. With that said let me tell you what exercises are my favorite.
Squats. How did you know?! No really though, the squat is a phenomenal complex movement that will hit all large muscle groups surrouding the hips and the legs through a full range of motion. They do focus on the hip flexors and quads, but can be adjusted (think sumo or pile) to a more posterior chain focus.
Bridge. These will target the large glute muscles that support your hips and keep them in line against your pelvis tilting forward. I prefer these to a donkey kick because the range of motion can be easily adjusted as well as the intensity (weight).
Clam Shells or Fire Hydrants. Both of these movements are external rotations for the hips and are great supporting exercises. External rotation is very important for everyone, pregnant or not, because it provides stability for the hips. Keep in mind, as our bellies grow, the “external rotation muscles” do tend to become overactive because it is natural to widen our gait in pregnancy.
Reverse Clam Shell. Basically an internal rotation of the hip. This movement will be your best friend when you are in the 3rd trimester and that sciatic pain just won’t go away. Our anatomy makes cross body stretches close to impossible, and those are what really target the sciatic area. A reverse clam shell will help lengthen those muscles by contracting the antagonist.
Now we have to relax those tight muscles so let me show you how.
How do you stretch your hips
The only two strecthes you really need are a runner’s stretch for the hip flexors and quads. As well as a pigeon stretch for the glutes, hamstrings, and external rotators. There many variations or modifications to make both stretches work best for your mobility. For example, using a chair to elevate one side and stay standing, sitting in a chair, and lying on the floor.
There are also two ways you can use the stretch, dynamically (through an active range of motion) and statically (a hold). The best time to do a static stretch is when you have time to really rest in that pose and focus on relaxing your muscle groups one by one. These are very deep stretches and are best done when the body has been warmed up. Such as the end of your day of activity or following a workout (but NOT right before). Dynamic stretches are best done in preparation for a workout, like in a warm up and can even be used as a cool down. Also, best done in the morning (slow and controlled) when you feel stiff to find relief.
When and how to use these exercises and stretches
While we want to keep it simple, we want to remember that the goal is to find balance. We DON’T want to neglect the muscles that seem to be extra tight and only work the weakened ones because then we will just shift the imbalance in that direction. But we DO adjust the frequency and workload accordingly. For example, most of us will have tight hip flexors. We wouldn’t write off squats and only strengthen the glutes, because then we will have the same problem but switched! So when should you do which exercises?
My favorite philosophy is to listen to your body. If you notice a certain muscle or area is tight or sore, stretch those. But strengthen (or work) the opposing. See? Simple! Strengthen the quiet muscles and stretch the loud ones.
Now let’s look at the bigger picture. If you are chronically tight and sore in one of those areas and notice it affecting your daily life, you will want to adjust your workout regimen accordingly. So keep your frequency high, meaning more often, on the weaker muscle groups. These “weaker muscles” are the ones opposite of the problem area. If you don’t workout often, just increase your reps or sets of those muscle groups when you can.
Example, everyday my glutes are so tired and sore, a sure sign they are overworked or overcompensating. So I will make sure I do hip flexor and quad focused workouts 3 to 4 days a week and glute focused exercises 1 to 2 days a week. I will also focus on deep (static) stretching my glutes more often while mostly dynamically stretching my hip flexors and quads.
Once you notice that you are more “even” and you have minimized your pregnancy hip pain, don’t worrry about being as strict or scheduled. Just follow your body’s lead based on that day. Mix up your workouts and have fun!
Workout To Soothe Pregnancy Hip Pain
Now that you have the right idea, let’s sweat! With a well rounded workout designed to help moms like you that may be struggling with discomfort in the hips, you will feel as good as new.
Muscular imbalances during pregnancy really take a toll on your comfort and getting relief can make a world of a difference. If you are also experiencing back pain during your pregnancy, check out The Best Exercise To Relieve Prenatal Back Pain. There you can find out more about the causes of your discomfort with a video workout to help get you started!