I'm back with stretch #3! This is the last post in the series of most common muscle imbalances I see in my pregnant patients, and the stretches that I prescribe for home use between office visits. As always, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise regimen during pregnancy (and if I'm not your healthcare provider yet, give me a call!)
Similar to the Psoas muscle, the Quadratus Lumborum
(or QL as I'm going to call it from now on, because that's a mouthful!) doesn't respond well to the increased curve of the lumbar spine that comes with the growing pregnant belly. It gets tighter as the belly grows, and tighter can often mean more painful. The QL causes low back pain, and it can be one-sided pain, or can span the entire low back.
Side bends are the most common way to stretch the QL. Notice in the picture to the right how side bending offers a nice stretch to the QL. However, as your belly grows, sometimes sitting on the floor to side bend, or even standing and side bending can be precarious as your center of gravity shifts and your balance isn't as stable. So I like to offer a QL stretch that can be done lying down. Lay down on your side, with the painful side facing up. So let's say your right side hurts. You're going to lay on your left side. Notice in the picture the person is laying on a pillow. You can do this for an increased stretch, but it is not necessary. You'll lay on your left side, and stretch your right arm up over your head. Then you straighten your right leg. For an increased stretch, you can do this on a bed or couch and hang your leg off of the side. (Forward or backward is fine. Find whichever direction gives you the best stretch.) You might want a spotter if you're going to hang your leg over the side. And even if only one side is painful, I recommend doing this stretch on both sides, so you're even.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions about this or any other stretch. And let me know if you'd like me to feature any other stretches for a specific muscle you might be having trouble with.
Here's wishing you a healthier, happier pregnancy! Happy stretching!