3 exercises to perform when returning to the gym.
BONUS: 1 exercise to avoid.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: It is essential that you first get cleared by your doctor and preferably a pelvic floor physiotherapist before choosing to follow any type of exercise program)
Have you ever wondered how some women seem to almost effortlessly regain their pre-baby bodies? Have you ever heard of women who say that everything changed once they had kids?
Why is it that some women can return to their original form, while others seem to find it more challenging to get back to where they were?
It is safe to say that being pregnant is one of the biggest changes our bodies undergo in our lifetime. Having a growing baby live inside our body for 9 to 10 months (although worth it :D) can have some detrimental side effects. The structural changes to our bodies can be profound and if we don't take good care of ourselves, we won't have any control on how our bodies end up.
Negative Side Effects of Pregnancy
As you may already know, there are side effects that come from carrying a baby for 9 to 10 months. Here are some for the potential issues that one might face after pregnancy:
- "mom injuries"; i.e. back, shoulder, hip or neck pain caused by poor postural alignment
- diastasis recti - a case where the the abdominals become so stretched that a separation of the connective tissue occurs.
- incontinence (loss of bladder control)
- pelvic floor weakness
- a weak core
- inability to lift heavy objects
- and more...
The best way to maintain good health and to prevent the potential negative impacts of pregnancy is through proper exercise and nutrition. It is important to consider that you won't have the same body you did before you were pregnant. This means that with a different body, you should approach exercise differently than you would before becoming pregnant.
Remember that although you may be impatiently waiting for the return of your pre-baby body, it is important to allow your body the time it needs to heal before increasing the intensity/level of difficulty of your workouts. If it took you almost a year of carrying your baby to reach the point you are now, it shouldn't take you any less to get to where you want it to be.
Not all exercise is created equal. Core and pelvic floor exercises, body weight training, breathing exercises and walking are not the same as high impact exercises such as; running, box jumps, jumping jacks, etc.
If you are cleared by your doctor or pelvic floor physiotherapist to start an exercise program with weight training, here are the 3 exercises you will want to make sure you incorporate.
Exercise #1. Core - Anti- Movement
With all the posture changes that take place in the lower spine and compromised pelvic region it is important to regain strength in your core muscles. One of the best and safest ways to do this, is with anti-movement exercises. Not only will you strengthen your core, but you will improve core control in a way that can progress nicely into further stages of training.
- half kneeling pal-off press
- dead bug
Exercise #2. Hip Dominant
Hip dominant exercises are focused on strengthening the gluteal muscles. Strengthening this muscle group plays 2 important roles; 1. aiding in restoring core function. 2. helping heal back/hip pain.
- glute bridge
- hip thrust
- single leg romanian deadlift
Exercise #3. Pull
Pulling exercises allow you to strengthen the posterior chain. The changes we experience in our body (a growing belly and enlarged breasts for breast feeding) can create some serious muscular imbalances. Adding pulling exercises can help you to improve posture and reduce neck, shoulder and lower back pain.
- band pull aparts
- 1-arm split stance band row
BONUS: An exercise to avoid - Front Planks
Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. As is the case with many postpartum women, the connective tissues of the abdominals are weakened.
In the case of diastasis recti, performing front planks can put extra pressure on the weakened abdominals and can in fact, worsen the separation that is already there.
It's crucial that you strengthen your core muscles, but make sure you aren't making the situation worse along the way.
Key points to remember
- It's important to set your expectations for the time it takes to heal your body. There is no rush to get back to your old self. Rushing can cause more significant longterm problems.
- Your training focus should be on core/pelvic floor restoration, glute strengthening and postural alignment.
- Avoid exercises like front planks that put extra pressure on weakened connective tissues. Exercises like this can make a bad situation worse.
- Train smart and have fun! You are going through a lot at this stage in your life and exercise is supposed to make you feel better.
Need help getting back to your pre-baby body?
Julie Leblanc is co-owner of Evertrain Lifestyles Inc. and head of pre and post natal training.
If you are looking for a customized plan to guide you on a safe and effective journey where you feel confident, comfortable and strong, contact us today by clicking here.
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