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The Fitness Zone

Exercising Post Pregnancy
May 31, 2016 | by

You may be an avid gym goer in the lead up to child birth but training post pregnancy can be a completely different story.  With many women getting caught up in their ‘regular’ pre-baby routine and not taking into consideration recovery required after this life changing event, we have gone to Tanna Wellis, Course Coach and new mum from The Institute in Adelaide to tell us all about what training after giving birth is really like.

Irrespective of your fitness level pre pregnancy, you do need to remember that for your little one to grow over the past 9 months, your body has had to make some big changes;

  • Your posture has changed; your hips fall forward into an anterior tilt and your lower back may now arch

  • Your uterus and abdominal muscles were stretched to their absolute end point, with some pregnancies resulting in some separation of the Linea Alba (Rectus Diastasis)

  • As your baby grew, they would have pushed all of your digestive organs up into your ribcage, causing some digestive disturbances, you will also have a stretched and weakened pelvic floor

  • You may have had a C-section and are now recovering from major abdominal surgery

  • An increase of the hormone ‘Relaxin’ for preparation of childbirth, may also have you feeling a bit wobbly on your feet and unstable when bending over or on one leg.

In addition to these changes, your body will also be experiencing exhaustion and stress from many sleepless nights.

The first think to take into consideration when re-introducing fitness postpartum is to be realistic and patient. It took around 40 weeks to form the pregnant body and it could take nearly just as long to return to your pre-pregnancy physical self.

As these adjustments take place, it is imperative that you are in close contact with your physician so that they can watch your progress and hopefully give you a full medical clearance 6 weeks post birth.

Once you have obtained medical clearance, remember you are still recovering so ease into your training and listen to your body. Like a lot of women, I wanted to get straight back into the gym and tackle the strength training I was doing before giving birth, however pushing my pram up a hill one day was my realisation that this was not going to happen. It was some weeks after clearance from my GP that I felt comfortable and confident lifting again.

My advice is to start off slowly, go for a walk, a swim or jump on a stationary bike and see how your body feels with some light exercise. Ask yourself, Is there any pulling or discomfort? How did you pull up the next day? Are you feeling sore in all the wrong places?

When you are ready to start incorporating weights back into your program, here are a few tips to ensure you train effectively and most of all safely;

Keep the weights light: You should be able to  perform 10-15 repetitions without strain or failure. As you get stronger and more confident you can slowly increase the weight.

Incorporate glute activation exercises: Before you jump back into your usually ‘leg day’ routine the easiest way you can aid your technique and ensure your are activating all the right muscles i sby activating your glutes so they are warm before each exercise.

Introduce compound exercises: By Incorporate big compound movements with a variety of push, pull, and leg exercises you will be  more efficient in strengthening the whole body as well as getting both the upper and lower body working together.

Add in functional training: As your baby grows, and subsequently weighs more, try to do exercises that mimic picking up your child from the ground or out of their highchair.

Activate your core muscles: By having a strong core you will minimise the tension and stress on your back which in turn will make regular day to day activities more comfortable. Assisted chin ups, hanging leg raises or straight arm lat-pull down are great exercises as they require  you to control the movement.

Avoid any high impact movements While you are in the initial stages of recovery post pregnancy, your pelvic floor muscles are incredibly weak. Try one legged exercises to challenge your muscles and reteach the core and glutes to stabilise around the back and pelvis effectively.

Take your time: Remember, YOU HAVE JUST HAD A BABY! There is no rush, so take your time, listen to your body and most importantly enjoy motherhood!

About

Tanna is a Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness SA/NT.

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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