Prenatal Stretch and Strengthening, with Annette Fletcher
The Prenatal Stretch & Strengthening program by New York City-based Pilates and video fitness instructor Annette Fletcher applies Annette’s acclaimed gentle and consistent stretch and muscle conditioning approach in a prenatal exercise regimen.
The program is suitable for every trimester of pregnancy and takes into account the extra sensitivities and physical needs you develop through each trimester. Annette explains in detail the impact of the growing baby on your posture, your joints and muscles: The changes in weight distribution, and the curves of your spine.
Annette teaches you how to relax into the stretch, overcoming the discomforts of your changing posture, body alignment, and muscle tensions, and guides you through a gentle strengthening program that will help you to have an easier labor, shorten your recovery period, allowing you to speedily return to your previous level of fitness after the birth of your baby, and potentially even exceed your pre-pregnancy fitness level.
The first section of the video offers seated stretches and exercises, working on breath, body alignment, abdominal muscle conditioning, and strengthening your hips and arms. These sequences of stretches help you to open and lift the chest, strengthen the muscles of the upper back, and relax the shoulders to prevent mid-back muscle tension, to make your breathing easier and balance the forward shift of your body weight that increases every week as the baby grows. You will work on strengthening the core abdominal muscles that keep your lumbar curve from overextending and help alleviate back pain. Annette also guides you through exercises strengthening the muscles of your pelvic floor, giving you the control and coordination you will need to activate or relax these muscles during labor.
The second section consists of standing exercises aimed at strengthening large muscle groups in your legs and back. Tired from bearing the increasing weight, leg and hip muscles pull on your lower back, often resulting in tension and pain. To prevent this, Annette focuses on stretching your quads and hamstrings, and strengthening the stabilizing muscles of the pelvis and hips. The last section of the program takes you through a series of deep relaxing stretches, improving your blood flow, joint health and your mood!
You can follow the program from beginning to end and enjoy the full workout, or do just one section a day, depending on how you feel: Maybe you have only enough energy for stretches on one day, while on the next day you feel like engaging in a more vigorous strengthening workout. With Prenatal Stretch & Strengthening, it’s up to you.