What you need to know about postnatal exercises
Here at Core Physio, we are advocates for exercise at all stages of life. We also focus on those in the childbearing year.
Physical benefits of postnatal exercise include:
- Better cardiovascular health
- Increased strength and flexibility
- Management tool for aches and pains
- The release of endorphins which helps to reduce stress and improved mood
So, you’ve had your baby and your doctor has given you clearance to exercise again. Now what? Do you start going to those HIIT (high intensity interval training) classes you liked before you got pregnant? Are you doomed to be stuck with walking and swimming forever? For every woman the journey back into exercise is different. Factors that influence that journey are broad.
Your Physio at Core Physiotherapy and Pilates Studio is here to discuss plan your next step.
Firstly, what was your pre-existing exercise level like? How did that continue throughout your pregnancy? If you were regularly exercising beforehand e.g. participating in sports, cardio classes or strength-based exercise, you are likely to have a good baseline fitness. This makes the process of regaining and improving strength quicker. For women that haven’t been active in a while, exercise is still absolutely for you! What we advise in that case is to allow extra time to build your muscles – it’s been a while since they have been working hard!
Next, we think about your birth process. Weakness through the pelvic floor is common for all new mums. However, it is more prominent in women who has had a vaginal delivery. The need for episiotomy, ventouse or forceps can place additional stress on the pelvic floor during the birth process.
Basic screening questions about your pelvic floor function can detect if there is a need for you to have a pelvic floor strengthening program prior to exercise. Strengthening your pelvic floor has been proven to eliminate or at least reduce stress incontinence in post-natal women. If we think you may benefit from a more specialised assessment, we are able to refer you on. Returning to high impact exercise such as running is not advisable without at least a basic screening of your pelvic floor.
Abdominal weakness is also common, particularly in women who had a C-section. Presence of any abdominal separation (also known as rectus diastisus), can direct what sort of abdominal exercises are safe for you. Don’t jump straight into trying sit ups because they aren’t always the best answer!
Finally, it is important to know what your goals are. All the exercises we give aim to improve general strength and flexibility. Key areas we will focus on are:
- Back flexibility
If you have any specific goals about returning to sport or work, let us know! We will work closely with you to tailor exercises and build you back into higher intensity exercises.
For further questions call and make an appointment at one of our many locations.