27 Dec 2017
Postnatal Exercise You Should Never Do
Exercise to avoid postpartum.
During pregnancy your body produces relaxin. This hormone makes your ligaments stretchy and elastic in preparation for childbirth. Relaxin affects every joint in the body and it can take up to five months for your ligaments to get back into their original positions and stabilise. As a result, your joints may be weaker than usual, increasing the risk of your ankles, knees, hips, pelvis and spine weakening under impact.
If you had a caesarean birth you will probably need to wait a little longer than 6 weeks for your body to recover to get back into exercise. Again, wait until your sign off from your GP or midwife.
High-impact exercise is generally best avoided for at least three to six months after the birth of your child because of the effect on your joints. Whatever type of exercise you choose to do and whenever you choose to do it, listen to your body and try not to overexert yourself.
The abdominals can take time to re-align after your baby has been born, so avoid sit-ups for several weeks and indeed months (or for some, years) after birth.
What do sit-ups do? They strengthen and work the six-pack muscle. During pregnancy, we know that this muscle has lengthened and separated. If you don’t have a solid foundation underneath this six-pack muscle before you work it, then by doing crunches, you’re actually going to make your separation of these muscles worse. In other words, any separation you had after birth will now be wider, because you’re forcing the muscle to strengthen when it’s still in a weakened, separated state. The amount of abdominal pressure placed on the six-pack muscle when performing a sit-up, forces it to separate further apart.
Instead there should be a focus on pelvic floor strengthening and activating and working the transversus abdominis (TVA) muscles first.
Planks are a great exercise post-pregnancy but detrimental to your recovery and getting your stomach back to where it was pregnancy if you are not connecting with your deep core muscles as mentioned above.
So, leave these exercises out until you have progressed to the stage you are confident that you have nailed it with regards to your TVA activation exercises.
One way of knowing whether you are able to do this is to make sure you perform the workout for TVA and pelvic floor – so don’t fret it’s all in this plan.
Also, other spinal extension movements such as back extensions are also out. This is because they increase stress on the abdominal tissues, which again relates to the above – a weak TVA and pelvic floor will result in pain, injury and a prolonged recovery.
4. Overhead weight training
These can put downward pressure on the pelvic floor during a time where everything is working to heal up and in.
This is why I have used modifications within this plan, e.g. keeping lighter weights at chest height or lower. For example, if you want to work your shoulders, try upright rows or lateral raises instead of overhead presses. For triceps, instead of overhead triceps extensions, do bent-over triceps extensions.
5. HIIT training.
Since HIIT is an advanced training option, it’s not one that we want to start to jump right back into after we’re cleared to exercise again (even though I know, it’s really tempting). The impact can cause pressure on our pelvic floors (which are still weak and healing from birth) and the cardiovascular workload can be too high to jump back into. It’s smarter to work your way up to consistent moderate endurance training before jumping into intervals.
6. Wide heavy squats.
These can also put downward pressure on the pelvic floor. After the birth, relaxin is still present in the body, which can make us more susceptible to over-stretching and injury.
Great modifications which I include in my New Postnatal Plan (coming early January) are glute bridges, lunges, hip raises and thrusts. These will still challenge your glutes and develop core strength, while at the same time facilitating healing.
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