Skip to main content

Returning to Exercise After Baby

I am very proud to be a part of this amazing team

We are a group of postnatal experts contributing to a non-profit organization whose mandate is to bring comprehensive reliable one-stop-shop info for mothers online. What a powerhouse!

Maternal Goddess

I am very proud to have my first article published this week.

Returning to Exercise After Baby

New moms are often very anxious to start exercising. Postnatal exercise is a fantastic pursuit which ideally serves to strategically strengthen key areas and also facilitate our recovery from delivery, no matter what kind of delivery it was. In the first 6 weeks postpartum it is imperative to do breathing and pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible. Depending on trauma, the ROM may be extremely gentle, but it is the best investment in restoring core function postpartum. The postnatal body is designed to heal, and these first 6-8 weeks are crucial for that reason. Ideally these exercises are started prenatally so they are familiar, form is intact and the program is in place right away. Gentle head-to-toe stretches with reduced range of motion (focus on dynamic over static) and walking are also encouraged. Higher intensity exercise may begin at the 6-8 week mark but “jumping right back into it” will not serve the postnatal condition! It is important to train smart and train hard!

Core Integrity
A postnatal exercise program requires a thorough supplemental core and postural assessment. This will provide information regarding any incidence of diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction, pubic symphysis and other issues that may compromise pelvic stability control. Every new mom should invest in a professional core assessment in order to understand where form needs to be strengthened to support the exercise they want to begin (or return to).
Asymptomatic is not synonymous with functional. In a large majority of cases core dysfunction is present without symptoms. Without assessment and appropriate rehabilitation, symptoms may occur many years from now. Lower back pain, poochiness, occasional incontinence, etc, are accepted as normal and aging symptoms- they are not! If these symptoms develop many years postpartum the connection to lack of proper postnatal recovery is often completely overlooked, potentially resulting in misdiagnosis and in the worst case scenario- surgery.

Building Up
Depending on the results of the core assessment there may be restrictions applied to exercise until function can be adequately restored to support certain positions. For example, a diastasis recti restricts plank and front loaded exercises; pelvic floor symptoms may prevent running right away; pubic symphysis may restrict lateral movements and unilateral positions. Once function is restored these exercises can be reintroduced but postnatal recovery takes time!
A postnatal program supports recovery and through strategic strengthening builds the foundation for high intensity exercise. Beginning these exercises too quickly will exacerbate symptoms, provide limited results (frustrating!) and may very well result in injury. Postnatal exercise considerations include proper hydration, adequate caloric intake if needed to support breastfeeding, and a balance between rest and exercise.

Functional & Beyond
There are plenty of  exercises that are safe, effective and targeted to strengthening imbalances and building back up to function. This may take 4 weeks; it may take 12 months and longer.  It will depend 50% on the severity of the challenges and 150% the diligence of the mother. As exercises and positions are reintroduced symptoms must be monitored regularly. If symptoms recur it is necessary to take a step back temporarily and reintroduce the problematic exercises again later. They serve as a reference point for progress! The deep core work continues to be applied to advanced strength training, and it improves balance (stability control) and strength (full range of core contraction).

“Mom” is the best shape of your life- believe it baby!
I am very offended by the insinuation that our bodies change after baby in some detrimental way that we are never fully able to recover from. Admittedly body shape may change (slightly) but I know first hand that we can be in the very best shape of our lives as mothers. Becoming a mother can inspire us to personal greatness that exceeds our pre-parent ambitions- that is the psychological component.

Physically the body awareness that develops by addressing the lingering impacts of pregnancy and delivery fundamentally changes the approach and effectiveness with not only exercise, but also with everyday meaningful activities. This results in a tremendous increase in quality of life, and these effects continue to snowball from there. Understanding how our core is functioning to support movements is a tremendous investment in effective successful training and fitness goals. Training up is imperative!
“train smart and train hard!”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I don’t have a Diastasis- Why is my abdomen still distended postpartum?

I get asked this question all the time! Here is my answer:
Research has shown that 100% of pregnant women will develop some degree of diastasis recti. A diastasis is a lateral separation in the abdominal wall between the recti or “six pack”, due to a stretching of the midline connective tissue or “linea alba”. Although some diastasis will heal postpartum, in many cases a separation will remain without restorative exercise.
Distention from DR will present as a doming in the midline. Women who heal a diastasis spontaneously or through restorative exercise may still find that their abdomens are distended, particularly after a meal and/or at the end of the day. If there is no diastasis, why is this?
This abdominal distention does not occur in the midline, but rather across the entire abdominal wall. This is due to a weakened hypotonic TVA- transverse abdominis muscle. The TVA is the deepest anterior abdominal muscle, wrapping around the midsection like a girdle, with a left and right side. T…

Day 3 Carb Flush- Ketosis

I am on Day 3 of my pre race carb flush. Here is my food plan for today:
Wednesday:
- Coffee & Banana
<--- Left was my mid day post client meal- chicken chunks, red cabbage and spinach in a white sauce, quinoa.

---> Right was my dinner- raw veggies with homemade mayo, bacon (mmmmm), 2 perogies, edamame.

Tonight I had 1/2 pear, cheddar cheese chunks and 3 thick crackers. O yes and this......

Sangria FTW! :)

I am wrapping up the 3rd and last day of my carb flush. Tomorrow I begin to replenish, Friday is the big homemade pasta dinner we have planned, then Saturday is bean salad and regular program pre-race day. I have completely avoided refined sugar even in my coffee (favouring extra milk over sugar). I will continue this until race day and beyond, now seemingly hyper-mindful of glycemic indexes and performance (from race day to every day!).

The Mississauga Half Marathon Clinic at the Winston Park Dr. Running Room store had its last clinic meet on Tuesday. I loved running with …

Nutrition- Soup & Bread!

I could live on soup. Seriously- it is an infusion of goodness full of electrolytes and soluble nutrition. It is hard to f*%$ up soup :) It's a go-to healthy choice. A small serving is very filling. It can be topped with bread, shredded cheese, sour cream or yogurt. It is a 2:00 reheat and great for a fast meal at home. It is a great "healthier" restaurant choice. I order soup all the time! It is delicious :)

Ben made this amazing asparagus and broccoli soup. He brought me 2 containers which = 4 servings for me. I have 2 left for the weekend. It is a jam packing 300 calorie infusion- perfect fuel for training and a healthy food plan. Here is his recipe:
Four cups of each potato, asparagus carrot and broccoli
1 bag of milk
2 cups chicken stock.
I think he blended it.
Serve with greek yogurt.
After adding the cheese I thought it was a bit salty so perhaps 1 cup of stock could be replaced by 1 cup of water? Regardless, this is a simple and delicious healthy recipe to try!