Congratulations!!! You’re a Mum, you’ve done the sleepless nights, feeding, baby changing and now all you really really want is your body back and to feel in control again!
Whether you’ve had a c-section or natural birth you should start slow and build. Do get your doctors approval first, its usually 6 weeks for natural birth and a little longer post c-section.
Listen to your body and be kind to yourself!
If you go straight into running or any other high impact exercise you may feel discomfort and leak, caused by a weak pelvic floor (embarrassing!!) and you risk doing more harm than good.
YES! Pelvic floor, pelvic floor, pelvic floor
It’s been stretched and pulled throughout pregnancy and giving birth. You may even have some abdominal separation (medical term Diastasis Recti) caused by the pressure on the uterus by a growing baby.
The fitter you are before pregnancy and throughout the more likely you will be to bounce back.
What exercises should I start with?
Your exercise regime should initially focus on restoring the connective tissue in your inner core (transverse abdominals) and activating your pelvic floor. Once you have these switched on correctly you are safe to add load.
1. Isolated pelvic floor and lower abdominal exercises driven through breathing. Like leg taps (below), glute bridges, pelvic tilts.
Lay on your back with knees bent, and feet on the ground. Inhale through your ribcage, as you exhale begin to draw your pelvic floor upwards and navel towards your coccyx. Ensure the small of your back in imprinted into the matt and shoulders relaxed. Once your pelvic floor and inner core muscles are engaged begin to raise your left leg with knee bent. Then alternate using the same breathing technique. Complete x5 reps on each leg, 3 times. Once you’re comfortable with this, progress to double leg raise.
2. Strength exercises target bigger muscle groups and supporting joints including glutes and lower back, upper back and arms. This will improve posture and areas of weakness. Remember your core muscles and pelvic floor is the driving force of every movement. Like squats, lunges (below), side lunges, wide plié squats (below). Progress with raising the heels, then add light weights. Build from the inside out, then you can add load to increase strength and perform functional exercises correctly.
WIDE PLIE SQUATS
*This requires core control and a great exercise to incorporate into your routine.
SINGLE LEG SUPERMANS
- Stretch. To be strong your body muscles need to be lengthened so you have that full range of movement when exercising. Who doesn’t love a good stretch and relax time… Try a hamstring stretch(below) if you don’t have a band you can use a towel
- Walk walk walk. Walking is the best way to build your cardiovascular fitness. Pushing the buggy whilst mastering pelvic floor and core floor engagement. Try walk on a slight incline, this will raise your heart rate!
- Don’t stress. If you’re stressed, stress hormones (cortisol level) will be high, this hinders repair as the body will not be producing the collagen you need to recruit muscle and become the stronger you
Don’t set goals yet...
This is not what a PT would normally advise but don’t set specific goals or more importantly just be realistic. Now you’re probably intuitive anyway, but make baby steps and always focusing on form. Always activate your pelvic floor and inner abdominal muscles. Once you’ve mastered this feel free to add load. Again start small and maintain good form. Now you’ll have the building blocks to begin on higher impact exercises.
I’m ready to start running...
So you’ve rebuilt strength in your core, your pelvic floor feels under control and you want to start running.
Walk Run principle. Start with a light jog followed by walk. 1 minute jog. 1 minute walk. Repeat 5 times. Each week increase the volume so try 2 minutes jog and 1 minute walk on your second week. Then build from here.
When can I do my first 5km Run?
When you feel ready!!!
The first steps may be difficult but there is a load of information out there and specialists in post natal exercise, pelvic floor experts that can help. Go out there and go get it! Once you start exercising this will boost your mood, increase your energy and give you the confidence emotionally and physically. We are all individual and some will respond quicker than others. Just keep going and stay positive!