Prenatal Fitness: Tennis Balls & Yoga Stretches
There are little tips you pick up along the way when you attend prenatal yoga classes and speak to other expecting mums. One neat little trick I learned from my prenatal yoga instructor was the idea of a tennis ball massage. It's something super simple but I hadn't considered it until it was mentioned to me. So in the spirit of sharing knowledge, let me tell you about the use of a tennis ball during pregnancy. There are certain aches and pains that you'll inevitably feel at times during the course of your pregnancy - whether it's neck or shoulder stiffness, upper or lower back pain, gluteal or pelvic soreness...you name it! Often these places are hard to reach by yourself and you can't always stroll into a prenatal yoga massage place (they're expensive and sometimes you just need a quick fix).
Here are some ways to effectively utilize the tennis ball for a quick massage during your pregnancy:
Option 1: Sit on it! Literally sit your body on a yoga mat and lean into the tennis ball under the area that is troubling you. In my case, it's been hip/gluteal soreness. So what do I do? As shown in the picture above, I sit sideways against the ball and sink into the ground. Breathe deeply and hold that posture for a few seconds. It will be painful because the firmness of the tennis ball digs into your trouble spot and gets into the muscle fascia. Then slowly and gently roll over the ball so it massages the area that is affecting you. The ball is effectively working like a mini-foam roller giving you a deep tissue massage. Switch sides and repeat. Do it a couple times and you'll feel a difference!
Option 2: Lean against the wall with the ball and roll your body against it. For example, if your upper back is feeling a bit stiff, position the ball between the wall and your upper back. Then move your body in circles against that area to feel the gentle massaging effects.
Option 3: Have Mr. Husband (or any willing family member or friend) rub the tennis ball against your back while you are sitting on a stability ball or in a cross-legged position. Have them roll the ball against their palm down your upper and lower back or use the motion of making concentric circles over the back using the ball. You can ask them to modify the pressure as you like it. Believe me, it feels yummy!
Lastly, you can't go wrong with gentle yoga stretches to keep your body in a happy condition. Check out the photo and my short videos below showing the downward dog, hip openers, pigeon pose, and side stretches that will benefit your back, hamstrings, hips and thighs!
Downward Dog-Pigeon Pose
Hamstring and Side Stretches