I originally wrote a post on postural issues during pregnancy back in January (check out Strength Training For Posture). A fair amount has happened since then! However, the postural changes continue, so this post goes into a little more detail about three specific back exercises (and a bonus stretch) to pull those shoulders back and help you stand tall.
To briefly summarise:- during pregnancy the additional weight at the front of your body (baby bump and boobs), causes your hips to tilt forwards creating an excessive curve in the lower back (served with a side of lower back pain) and your shoulders and upper back begin to round.
The joys of pregnancy continue.
Even after birth, when the majority of the weight is out, these postural issues are further exacerbated by your daily ‘routine’ of feeding, lifting, holding, and rocking. I still haven’t nailed a feeding position that doesn’t involve hunching over until adequately latched and then freezing my position.
As weight continues to be placed at the front of the body, your chest muscles become strong and tight, and your back muscles become stretched and weakened. Once I was allowed to train again (Dr’s and husbands orders), my first goal was to address these issues, and below are my top rowing and pulling exercises to help strengthen your back and fix that post preggo posture (I’ve used dumbbell variations but others are available depending on your equipment options).
DUMBELL BENT OVER ROW (NEUTRAL GRIP)
The bent-over row is a compound exercise that will stimulate a number of muscles in your upper and lower back, great for all-over back strength.
Select the correct weight, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hinge forward at the hips. Your bum should be back, with a slight bend in your knees. Engage your core muscles, keep your back straight and your chin down. Let the dumbbells hang under your shoulders with your palms parallel to your torso. This is your starting position.
Keeping the shoulders retracted, engage your back muscles and drive your elbows back in line with your body, pause for a second and then slowly lower the weight back down. This is one rep.
DUMBELL BENT OVER ROW (WIDE GRIP)
Similar to above, except that the hand and elbow position is altered to place more emphasis on your rear deltoids (shoulders) and mid-upper back.
Position yourself as above however change your hand position so that they are facing towards you when the dumbells are hanging down. Start by driving the elbows back and out to the side so that they are away from your body in a higher position in line with your chest. Pause for one second, then return to the start position under control.
This is one rep.
DUMBELL REVERSE FLY
This exercise targets the muscles between your shoulder blades which will start to pull your shoulders back. Take the same start position as the bent-over row but have your hands facing each other and have a slight bend in the elbows. Keeping just a slight bed in your elbows, drive the weights out to the sides until you reach chest height, pause for one second, then slowly return the weights to the start position.
This is one rep.
The other aspect of posture correction is to stretch out your tight chest muscles which are pulling your shoulders forwards.
Sitting on the floor, bend your knees and place your hands underneath your shoulders. Place your feet under your knees and lift your hips towards the ceiling. Your knees should be directly above your ankles, with your hips in line with your knees, and your shoulders over your wrists.
Just like a table. :)
Hold as desired (being super careful not to overstretch your delicate shoulder joints).
And relax...get involved.