Body after Baby- The Top 3 Exercises to Avoid
Let me introduce you to my Guest Blogger Amy Miller. I have had the pleasure of working with Amy at a few local gyms over the last 10 years. Back then I always appreciated her knowledge and ability to provide her clients with functional, safe, real life exercise. Now a Mom to adorable (seriously adorable) baby Austen, she continues to provide the same principles to her own personal fitness and now to yours. Amy will be teaching Mom and Baby Fitness in the Park starting Jul 5th at Country Hills Community Centre Park in Kitchener.
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I want you to know I am very picky about who I choose to work with. I know that Amy will not only give you a great workout and great results ,but she will make sure you are safe while doing it. Below she lists the top 3 exercises to avoid post partum and I must say I agree . I do think it's important to note that things like running and plyometrics can be resumed safely but only after your pregnancy hormones have returned to normal and after you have safely rehabilitated your glutes, hips, and pelvic floor. Your house needs a strong stable foundation to withstand the storm.
So without further ado, here is Amy!
As a kinesiology grad and personal trainer, I thought I had a solid handle on what my body would go through during pregnancy and post-partum recovery. I imagined myself with a cute little baby bump, eating clean and continuing the majority of my usual activities including weight training, fitness classes and recreational sports until the size of my belly became too limiting… WRONG. I quickly found out that the term “morning” sickness is completely inaccurate and that growing a human was the absolute most exhausting thing my body has ever done.
With a whole new perspective and level of respect for every childbearing woman, I knew my approach to regaining my fitness level after my daughter was born would need to be more carefully thought out, focusing on both proper rehabilitation from the toll of pregnancy and child birth, as well as getting back into my skinny jeans. Like anyone would do, I headed straight to the internet for some ideas and was both surprised and saddened at many of the programs aimed at post-partum women. Not only were a number the exercises inappropriate for beginning a fitness program – even with an active pregnancy – some were also highly unsafe.
Importantly noting that the vast majority of women will be capable of resuming the following activities, with adequate time and reconditioning, here are my recommendations for exercises NOT to include in a post-partum workout routine.
I’ll admit to previously throwing these into a workout here and there, just to change things up, but I am not a supporter of crunches as a functional core exercise for ANYONE. I know everybody has heard about the “core” a bazillion times but there are a couple things that are important to know in order to understand why crunches aren’t highly effective and can actually be detrimental. The term core refers to a group of muscles, which along with the abdominals includes the lower and mid-back, hips, glutes, and the most important concern for post-partum women, the pelvic floor. When these muscles work together, their primary function is to provide the body with stability rather than movement. So cranking on your neck and squeezing your abs over and over in a crunching motion does not train the core for the type of strength it was designed for and therefore, is much less likely to ever give the desired result. And if being a busy mom with no time to waste on an inefficient exercise isn’t enough, crunches can also worsen diastasis recti, a condition where your abs remain separated in the middle after being stretched during pregnancy and is easily correctible with proper core stabilizing exercises.
HIGH IMPACT PLYOMETRICS
This includes exercises with an explosive power component such as jump squats or box jumps which are typically great for getting the most bang for your buck, especially when you’re short on time. Sounds perfect, right? Here’s the problem early post-partum, pregnancy hormones loosen ligaments and joints to allow child birth to occur and the effects of this can last for months afterward, resulting in overall joint instability and weakness. Starting slowly with bodyweight exercises to appropriately rebuild joint strength is key to avoiding a sidelining injury, and will keep you on track to progressing to plyometric exercises once your joints have been stabilized.
LONG DISTANCE RUNNING
I know this is an activity that many people enjoy and even find mentally therapeutic, so for runner mamas, I understand how important it is to get back to. Running can also be an attractive option because it can be done anywhere, even with a stroller. However, when returning to exercise post-partum, it is important to consider that running is another high impact activity, particularly on pavement, so the concerns with joint weakness apply here as well. The repetitive motion of long distance running also has the potential to cause long-term joint dysfunction when performed too soon. Further to this, there is increased risk of pelvic prolapse – organs of the pelvis drop into the vagina AKA that feeling like your insides might fall out – scary, I know. If this is your goal, walking and pushing a stroller, while working on pelvic floor strength, will get you up and running (ha-ha) in due time.
The bottom line is, your post-partum body has been through some trauma and needs a little TLC to get back to regular activity, including exercises you may have been accustomed to doing pre-baby. Along with waiting for the go-ahead to resume increased levels of activity from a physician, a gradual return to a fitness routine with appropriate exercises that focus on the right areas, will ensure both physical results and long-term health.
Join Amy for Mom and Me Fitness in the Park on Tues and Thursdays at 9am in Country Hills Community Centre Park in Kitchener. Class starts Tues Jul 5th and run until Aug 25th.
click here to join today. See you in the park!