If you are like most pregnant people, you are probably eager to do what you can to prepare for labor and delivery. You’ve probably heard that your core and pelvic core deserve special attention during pregnancy. That’s true! But while there are many things to think about, don’t forget to focus on your upper body mobility too.
Your upper body deserves the same TLC as your bits below. And here’s why:
1) All of the tissues in your body are intertwined.
Compensations in one area lead to a cascade of compensations in others. If your upper body is restricted, it WILL impact the rest of your body.
2) The alignment of your upper body relative to your pelvis impacts the biomechanics of your core.
And I’ve already convinced you that you need to care about your core function, right?
If I haven’t, know that your core function is directly tied to HOW your body deals with normal and expected spikes in intrabdominal pressure (IAP). IAP is the pressure in your abdoman that fluctuates with your activity in order to provide stability to your torso.
Normally, your core activates to counter increases in IAP, providing increased stability.
If you’re core isn’t firing properly, it’s not countering that IAP, and that pressure is more likely to find weak spots in your pelvic floor and abdominal wall.
Essentially, this puts you at greater risk of pelvic floor dysfunction or issues like diastasis recti.
3) Your upper body mobility is tied to your nervous system regulation.
If your core isn’t firing well, if it becomes uncoordinated- you may well develop an upper chest or inverted breathing pattern. Think, tummy drawing in, shoulders rising towards your ears during a big inhale.
This activates your accessory breathing muscles associated with your fight or flight response.
4) The cascade of compensations has implications beyond core and pelvic floor function.
If you’re not able to breath deeply into your diaphragm, you may also see increases in acid reflux, heartburn or body pain like back aches.
The upper body is the most overlooked opportunity for prenatal prep. But it’s essential to keeping your core and pelvic floor operating smoothly and your body comfy.
Address your upper body mobility with these moves:
1. 360 degree rib cage breathingDiaphragmatic breathing, or 360 degree rib cage breathing, is a great way to mobilize your upper body and improve your overall breath function.
2. Strap StretchOnly work within your comfortable range of motion, you do not need to take the strap all the way around. If you stop with your arms overhead, that’s great if that is your personal range. Tips: Take a wider grip on the strap for greater range. Do not flare your rib cage or arch your back to increase your range.
3. Wall Slides
4. Side StretchActively reach with the arm overhead, do not collapse into this stretch. Take 3 good diaphragmatic inhales, into your rib cage, while holding this position. You should feel a great stretch along the lengthened side of your body.
Go give it a try!
Upper body mobility is a critical piece of prenatal preparation. If you can open up your chest and upper back, you will improve the function of your core and pelvic floor. These exercises are a great place to start if you’re looking to increase your upper body mobility. I encourage you to try them out and leave me a comment letting me know how they worked for you!
I’ve got a million more prenatal exercise tips for you! Check out:
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Contact me if you have questions about exercise or pelvic health pertaining to pregnancy or postpartum. I also offer personal training services and consultations to folks locally (Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland) and online.