New Mum’s, those with a weak core, diastasis or pelvic floor issues
This is such a vast area to talk about regarding improving or getting back to fitness levels. I will break it up into the earlier post-natal woman and then those who are going on for a year plus. Essentially, I ALWAYS point out that you ALL have a different story to tell and your body will have reacted differently from anyone else and for each of your births.
Importantly, always think about YOU, YOUR EXPERIENCE and apply this exercise and fitness advise to what YOU have been through. I don’t know if you still have a diastasis or if you have some urinary incontinence but I do know that you CAN do something about it and get it checked out BEFORE starting thinking about getting your fitness back! (email me & I can suggest the best action)
My favourite quote is “we can’t build a house on sand – if the foundation is weak then it will have problems”. This is so apt to ANYONE who is starting to exercise or take it harder. If you are weak from within your deep core, then you are much more prone to do more damage in the long run. Remember, it is not necessarily NOW that the impact happens, it is later!
You may have back pain, knee pain or other ‘niggles’ – if so it is best to get checked out before starting back at proper exercise. The pain is often not the problem area, it is often a whole body assessment that is needed. It is not just about muscle strength it is so much about muscle tightness or tight connective tissue and fascia. For example – if you are walking for a long time with your baby in a sling (or in the buggy ) and then you have pain whilst walking or after walking – then pain means there is something not happy in the body – so avoid too exerting the body too much and get checked out with a women’s health physio, a musculoskeletal physio or osteopath – try and get a women’s health qualified practitioner (ask and I can send you details).
New Mums and getting back to strength/fitness
Most wait till their 6-week check before thinking about exercising after having a child. Some of you who were full time runners or gym goers sometimes don’t even wait till 6 weeks!! The ideal time to just start GENTLE exercise is to wait till you are 6 weeks post a vaginal delivery (though of course depending on how it went) or 10 weeks post a C-section delivery. To go back to more advanced exercise – though you may feel ok, I really would wait until you are at least 5 or 6 months to take it up to the next level ie running, HITT, climbing etc Again ONLY if you are strong from within.
With all of this though, I am talking in very general term as you have ALL had a totally different experience and for some your body may recover well and with not too much trauma, but for others not so. Though it takes the connective tissue in your pelvis a good 4-6 months to mend!
When are you READY to get back to more intense exercise?
I get asked constantly – ‘when can I get back to running?’. I do get it, if you have always been a runner then you want to know when you can get your freedom back to run. Again, I would always respond with – what deep abdominal exercises have you been doing? Can you stand on one leg and do 10x one leg squats (quality) or do a back lunge with knee up x20?? All with good form and posture & no pain? Do you have any incontinence or is your tummy bulging/doming??
To be able to take your exercise up a level – look at how you are lunging, standing on one leg and balancing. If your ‘form’ is good, and there is no wobble or you don’t feel your tummy is bulging when putting more pressure through it, then maybe you are ready to take your exercise up. I did this video about it a while ago so have a look and see the exercises to try (not till you are a minimum of 4 months post birth): https://vimeo.com/345322621
I am a stickler for the importance of posture and doing an exercise correctly. Again, I get so many ladies who are not strong enough in their core to hold them upright when doing a lunge – they lean forward & push bum out – yet they think they are ready to run – do we run like that??? NO. So just take a look and also try and FEEL how things are when you do a move.
Similarly, our glutes are our power house but in pregnancy they can weaken or get very tight depending on the change in your pelvis. So, it is important to get the glutes ‘firing’ and kicking in. Release them 1st with a roller or hard ball then focus on getting them moving and strong. If these are tight or weak, they can have a big impact on your pelvic floor, your back or even your knees. I do loads of mini-band work at my classes, to try and get them firing and strengthening. Are you very tight around the mid back – your thoracic / rib cage area?? This may need some release work or massage to get breathing properly through your diaphragm.
- Wait until you are at least 6 wks / 10 weeks post birth to start back with GENTLE exercise
- Walking is great to do early post birth, so too is to think about your POSTURE & slow meaningful breathing with your pelvic floor exercises. Start with shorter walks and build up.
- Do deep core exercises 2 – 3x a week IF you really want to get stronger quicker – look at the Holistic Core Restore® Everywoman course if you want to build in regular exercises (https://www.vickihill.co.uk/class/holistic-core-restore-everywoman/)
- Do regular glutes exercises to build your hip and general stability – also focus on releasing them by rolling on a tennis ball.
- Spend the 1st 6 months working on your deep core, hip & leg stability & then get back to running or more intense exercise.
- Ask me for the right referrals if you think you still have a diastasis or your pelvic floor is not right
- Book in for an assessment with me – no mater how old your kids may be, if you are still unsure if you are ready to take your exercise up then I will assess your core and give you exercises to do.
- If you are 6 or even 12 months post having kids and decide to get back to exercise – the same applies to you. If you haven’t done anything then BUILD UP YOUR CORE FIRST – even before starting the Couch25K
- Always try and go to the post natal classes on offer – a lot of the instructors who say they are post natally trained know more than the general gym trainers. Try Buggyfit or the Everywoman course.
- Strengthen your whole body – don’t forget your arms and back muscles – both still really important to strengthen.
- See the right people to suit you – if you have a slight prolapse do you really want to see a personal trainer who wouldn’t dare mention the pelvic floor and how to lift properly?
- Nutrition is essential – but as this is about fitness & exercise that will be another blog at some point!!
- For those a year plus look out for my next blog and what you can do….
I hope this has helped or at least made you think about how you are getting back to your exercise. To finish – I loved the article by Jennifer Ennis-Hill – her physio didn’t let her get back to the higher intensity part of her training until she was 6 MONTHS after the birth of her child – then see how well she did!! https://www.vickihill.co.uk/getting-back-to-hitt-think-again/