Running, Box Jumps, Skipping, HIIT Class
How do you know if an exercise is safe for you to do postpartum?
You are afraid of peeing your pants. You are afraid of ‘doing damage’ to your pelvic floor. You don’t want to make your diastasis worse.
I feel you Mama, there are a lot of messages out there for the PostPartum exerciser. How do you know if you are ready to return to the activities you did before?
There are no ‘RIGHT’ or ‘WRONG’ exercises, there are just ‘Is this right for me, right now?’.
After you have a baby your body needs time to rest. Your body just grew a human and regardless of how you delivered, your body went through an epic change. Let your body rest and heal and nourish it with food and love.
Everyone’s body will heal at different rates and in different ways. Heck, each pregnancy can change how your body heals. You had a baby, you are now postpartum forever. This will not change.
What works for one Mama may not work for you. And that is ok. So, when you return to Crossfit or HIIT Class, or out for your run, don’t worry about what Susan is doing from your Baby Group. You need to take care of #1 and that is you.
While going about your busy daily #momlife, how do you feel? Do you have any Pain? Do you feel any Pressure in your pelvic floor or abdomen? Are you having any unwanted Peeing?
These are the questions I ask myself and my clients before, during and after any exercise. These are our signals that something is off, and we need to make some adjustments to our movements.
Let’s dive into these a little more so you know what I am talking about.
Seems straight forward, do you leak when you run, jump, or do explosive high energy classes?
But what about when you cough? Or Sneeze? What about when you have had such a busy day that you forget to go to the bathroom, and you need to rush in the door, straight for the bathroom or you are going to let it all go?
These are all times when we often experience a little bit of leaking. Lots of people, even doctors, will tell you that it is normal after having babies. And you bet it is common, but just because it happens to Susan on her runs, doesn’t mean you want it to happen to you. And who wants to wear a pad every time they go to workout?
In your pelvic floor do you feel any pressure pushing downwards? Do you feel like a tampon could be falling out? Does your pelvic floor feel heavy? Do you feel any bulging into your labia? These are all questions that we ask to help recognize if there is an excess of downward pressure in the pelvic organs.
The pelvic floor muscles have multiple functions, but mostly they keep things in (pee, feces, and your pelvic organs). The feeling of heaviness in your pelvic floor could be an indication that the muscles are stretched or weak and are not able to maintain the organs at the ideal height in your pelvis.
During pregnancy your growing baby is putting an enormous amount of downward pressure on your pelvic organs and muscles. This is why we feel the need to pee constantly. Your organs get squashed and your muscles will get stretched. Your body was designed for this, but if you are feeling similar pressure after pregnancy it could be an indication that your organs are prolapsing slightly or significantly. This means that they are shifting from their original position and descending downwards or inwards. Your bladder, uterus, and rectum can all prolapse either individually or together.
Pain is very subjective, but if you feel pain during your exercise (outside of the burning of your quads on your 4thround of squats – that is supposed to happen), then it is an indication that you should stop that exercise for the time being.
Pain can mean any number of different things depending on location, type of pain (burning, stabbing, throbbing), is it a quick onset or does it happen over time? Do you get the pain only after you exercise and not during? Speaking with a health professional can help you determine what is going on and how to fix it.
What can we do?
There is a lot we can do and focus on to help it from happening. It may take some time, and you do not need to completely stop all activity. I totally understand the mental and physical high you get from a good, hard workout. And I do not want to take something of joy from you. If you want to go for a run, and you weigh the pros and cons for yourself at this time, and the mental break is what you need? Then you go out there and get that runners high.
I will always suggest that you speak with a pelvic floor physiotherapist if that is something that is available to you at this time. If you are really into hardcore exercising, then I feel it is worth the investment. They can work with you and your specific goals to help alleviate symptoms and get you back in the gym or on the pavement with a strategic plan in place.
Some other tips you might want to consider if a PF Physio is not in the cards for you right now:
Before your workout:
Warm-ups can be a great time to engage your core and floor and engage them up a little. Hey guys, we are going out for a run because if I head ‘Baby Shark’ one more time I will scream, wake up down there and let’s go. Throughout our day our bodies can get a bit lazy and compensate. Bringing awareness to these areas can help activate them and keep them functioning through your run.
During your workout:
While we are exercising, focus on how you are breathing, are you getting that good core breath? How is your posture during the movement? Are your ribs over your hips? Or are you leaning back and driving all of that force through your heels (which can vibrate back up to your pelvic floor). Are you able to engage and relax your floor with your breath? Little check ins during your workout can really help bring awareness to the area and help keep them in check.
After your workout:
And lastly our cool down, a great time to take some deep core breaths. Your pelvic floor has been working double time to try to maintain tension and reduce or stop leaking from happening. By slowly focusing on your core breath, you can take the time to ensure you are allowing your pelvic floor muscles to fully relax in between the cycles of tension.
Inhale ~ Relax
Exhale ~ Engage
In between workouts:
Depending on how often you are doing your heavy lifts, runs or HIIT workouts, you might find it beneficial to add in some accessory work between workouts. A chance to get in some additional core breathing and intensify it by pairing it with your strength work. If you are able to build up that muscle memory in the slower controlled movements under load your pelvic floor will have more strength to maintain tension when needed.
I hope that these little tips can help you to exercise Pain, Pressure and Pee free! If you would like more information, or a detailed personalized plan for your own return to exercise, I would be happy to chat with you. As a Pre & Postnatal Certified Personal Trainer this is my jam! I love helping Mamas get back to the exercise that they love safely and strong!