Streches for shrinking any claves
Reach for your toes when you're sitting down. Simply sit down with your legs close together and slowly lean forward as you reach your hands toward your toes. Flex your toes and move closer to them, as far as is comfortable for you, until you feel a nice burn in your calves. Hold this pose for 15 seconds and repeat it three times.
Do the wide stance stretch. Just stand with one leg stretched out in front of you with the other leg behind you, separating your legs as far as they can comfortably go. Then, bend your front knee and keep your back foot flat on the ground, feeling the burn in your back calf. Keep your torso and back straight, looking straight ahead as you continue to elongate -- and therefore, shrink -- that back calf muscle.
Do the step stretch. To do this, just stand with one foot flat on the ground, with the other foot flexed straight out in front of you, with about half your foot planted over the top of a stair. Lean forward and feel the stretch in the calf of the planted foot. Hold this stretch, making sure to keep your planted foot flat on the ground and the leg on the stairs completely straight, as you feel the burn in the calf muscle.
Do the Downward Facing Dog pose in Yoga. This basic yoga pose is perfect for stretching out the calves and can be repeated many times during a yoga practice or just done on its own to shrink down your calves. To do the downward dog pose, lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders and your feet unflexed behind you. Use your hands to push yourself off the floor, shifting your weight to your heels while your hips move in the air. Your body should be making a reverse "V" shape, with your ears near your elbows and your heels as close to the floor as they can go.
Do Yoga. Though the downward facing dog pose is great for stretching out your calves, making yoga a part of your weekly exercise routine in general can help you stretch out your calves and tone them down. There are many yoga poses that target the calf muscle and stretch it out without adding tone or bulk to the calf. Here are some yoga poses that are especially helpful for stretching out those calves:
Do Pilates. Pilates is another great workout that is designed to not only build strength, but to improve your flexibility and focus. Pilates is a great workout that is traditionally done on an exercise mat, using a variety of apparatuses to help strengthen and stretch your body. Make Pilates a part of your weekly routine if you want to slim down, strengthen up, and reduce the size of those calves.
One of the most common complaints of expectant moms (myself included) is nagging back pain. Carrying around all that extra weight in your belly forces your spine to curve, putting pressure on your lower back. That, coupled with your expanding hips, can cause discomfort that makes it hard to sit, stand, or sleep. Get some relief with this yoga sequence.
*Just a word of caution: with the relaxin hormone softening the connective tissue in your body, you want to carefully and slowly move into these poses to avoid pulling a muscle or inducing other injury.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Tight hamstrings and hips can aggravate low back pain, so try this standing pose that uses gravity to deepen the stretch. To feel this more in your lower back, bend your knees slightly.
Kneeling Hamstring Stretch
Here's a pose to isolate one hamstring at a time.
Modified Seated Spinal Twist
Twists can increase spinal mobility and ease tightness.
This pose offers an even deeper stretch for tight hamstrings.
Tight hips can also contribute to lower back pain when you're expecting. Here's a basic pose to target both hips at the same time.
This hip-opener targets one hip at a time.
This pose is great at opening tight hips, and letting your belly press forward offers a release for your lower back.
Lying on your back for extended periods of time, such as when sleeping, isn't safe after your first trimester, but is perfectly fine for short periods. This pose, quite appropriately called Happy Baby, offers wonderful relief for tight hips and an achy lower back.
Wide Child's Pose
Here's one of the most relaxing lower-back poses you can do.