Firm Foundations™ – Pregnancy and Postnatal Fitness

Postnatal Back stretches

We have selected a range of back stretches for this handout. Often the challenges of motherhood mean that your back muscles are working harder, joints can become less flexible or need moving out of the baby holding positions. These are designed to help ease general back ache, improve your flexibility and enable you to choose a day of stretching as one of your exercise sessions. This will help you to breathe more easily, lift your posture and enjoy motherhood more. NOTE: These are not designed for women with existing back or pelvic pain that needs treatment from a health professional, as some stretches and exercises can make pain worse.
No discomfort should be felt during or after any of these stretches.

Disclaimer: This exercise handout is not intended to replace the advice of a health and fitness professional who can tailor your program specifically to your health and fitness needs.

Photos and models by Fitness, Form and Function and Stuart Frost Photography

1Cat Stretch

Starting position
Move into position

Start on your hands and knees.
Curl your back, arching like a cat. Relax.
Repeat and hold for 3 - 10 seconds.
Slowly release back to the start position.
Change the position of your hands slightly, moving them forwards or backwards to feel the stretch in a different part of your back.
Repeat 4 - 6 times.

2Pelvic tilt back stretch

Starting position
Move into position

Start with your knees bent, so your back feels comfortable.
Slowly flatten your lower back onto the floor and then release.
Repeat and hold for 8 - 10 seconds, feeling the lengthening in your lower back.
It is ok for your bottom to lift if you feel this will allow your back to lengthen further.
Keep breathing easily.
To focus further roll one part of your lower back onto the floor at a time.
Repeat 6 - 8 times.

3Knee hug


Lift your knees up to your chest and hold them to feel a comfortable stretch in your back.
Hold for 15 - 20 seconds and relax.
Repeat 3 - 5 times

4Rotation stretch

Roll to one side
Roll to the other side

With your knees together and arms out to the side, gently roll your knees to one side and then to the other. Keep the movement and amount of stretch at a comfortable level.
There should be no back pain felt.
Repeat 5 times on each side.
Finish with holding the stretch on one side for 10 - 12 seconds.
Repeat to the other side.

5Thoracic Rotation Stretch

With your hand on your forehead, roll your elbow back towards the floor.
Hold for a few seconds and roll forwards.
This exercise can either be done - rolling forwards and back 5 - 6 times OR rolling back and holding the stretch for 10 - 12 seconds, feeling your chest and shoulder open up.

6Lean back stretch

Stretch position

Sitting with your feet flat on the floor in front of you.
Place your hands behind and slowly lean back onto your arms.
Lean your head back and extend backwards steadily, as far as you feel you can go, keeping comfortable control of the movement.
Hold this stretch for a few seconds and roll back up into sitting.
Repeat 2 - 3 times, this time holding the stretch for as long as it feels comfortable.

7Upper back and arm stretch


Position yourself with your hands on the ball in front of you and your chest resting on your knees.
Stretch back and hold for 8 - 12 seconds, feeling a comfortable stretch.
Repeat 2 - 4 times (only if there is no pain or discomfort with this stretch).