Post Natal Exercise: Where Do I Start?
by Tonya Amos, Aspire Pilates Center
Aug 01, 2013 | 400 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Congratulations on your beautiful baby! Your body has been transformed from the inside out and you’re not quite sure of your next step. First, just rest. Next, start gentle breathing exercises to re-strengthen your deep core muscles. This may positively impact Diastasis Recti, activates your pelvic floor, and helps with stress. Contrast baths for the feet and lower legs (alternating buckets of warm and cool water) will address swelling. Since many doctors don’t want you doing any serious exercise for six weeks, it’s an ideal time to focus on foot strengthening.

The hormone relaxin, which makes ligaments and tendons more flexible to help deliver a baby, stays in the system for several months. The pelvic floor, which contributes to back support and controlling incontinence, has to self-repair after the trauma of childbirth. This means that high-intensity, pavement-pounding, post-natal workouts can lead to lower back and joint injuries.

Once you’re medically cleared to exercise, work slowly and carefully. Gently re-strengthen your overstretched core muscles. Slowly build from the “inside out” to address the dramatic postural changes that developed during the last few months of pregnancy. Focus on the muscles of the core, hips, legs, upper back, and feet to get you strong, well aligned, and your joints stable enough for more assertive work.

Know that your body will feel different when exercising after childbirth. Allow time for your feet to decrease in swelling and regain their strength, focus on good body mechanics, and be mindful that increased flexibility could cause joint injury. Take into account that fatigue, possible postpartum depression (remember to speak to your doctor), and breast tenderness may affect your workouts. Taking extra time on the front end to rebuild a solid, supportive foundation of strength can save you from years of back and joint pain later.

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