Having a new baby means you really don’t spend much time thinking about yourself. It’s all about looking after that new precious bundle of love. Whilst that is so, so important it can mean that things like your posture quickly slip and a few months down the line you end up with back, neck or shoulder issues. One of the key things that can go wrong is lifting baby from the floor. It’s something that mums do all the time so important to get right. Here I demonstrate 2 ways to safely pick up your baby, using my baby as an example.
I love working with my post-natal mummies (and that’s not just because I sometimes get a baby to cuddle), one of the key things we focus on is strengthening the core post-birth.
As part of these classes I often perform “rec checks” on mummies to see how their tummy muscles are, that also means we get exciting moments when we realise Pilates has done it’s job and the muscles are back in line again – WHOOP WHOOP!
Here we are in action:
Here’s some more info on what I mean:
The six-pack muscle (Rectus Abdominis) runs from your breast bone to your pubic bone and is joined together with a strong fibrous sheath called the Linea Alba. In some pregnancies, the Linea Alba becomes a little darker in colour and is visible on your stomach. This is called Linea Negra which simply means “dark line”.
You may have heard people talk about your abdominal muscles “splitting”. Your muscles don’t “split”, because they’re already in a separated state, as they’re held together by the Linea Alba which I mentioned above. A split muscle is like a torn muscle, so if you’ve ever torn your hamstring, for example, you’ll know what this pain is like! What happens to the abdominal muscles during pregnancy, is completely painless, you aren’t aware of it, and I like to refer to it simply as abdominal “separation”.
The Rectus Abdominis stretches vertically (up and down your stomach) to accommodate baby bump at your front, and when it can’t stretch any further up and down, it then starts to separate horizontally (from left to right).
I guess it’s a little bit like the Linea Alba is heavy duty cling film stretching apart. The muscles don’t separate in every pregnancy. It depends on a number of factors. The separation can take place above the belly button, below the belly button, or both.
Doing Pilates-based exercise and lots of pelvic floor work during pregnancy and immediately after birth is the best thing you can do to help your muscles re-align.
Why not do 5 “draw up and hold” abdominal/pelvic floor exercises now? Breathe in, filling your belly with air to prepare. Breathe out, draw your tummy muscles in and draw your pelvic floor up slowly and keep holding on (like you’re stopping yourself going for a wee). Stay there and breathe in to hold. Then breathe out and slowly relax the pelvic floor/ab muscles. Repeat this again, throughout the day.
This week has been my first full week back doing full-on cardio classes at the gym. As many of you will know I don’t just teach Pilates… currently I teach 8 Pilates classes and then I have a back to back Step Aerobics followed by Spin session on a Tuesday and a Step followed by a Body Conditioning class on a Thursday. I love teaching these classes but they can be quite tiring so I’m trying to look after myself in between classes with good nutrition, plenty of hydration and hopefully some sleep! Having a baby means I have to dash back from classes as quickly as possible, jump in the shower and quickly feed her so she can get to sleep. What I noticed today was due to the rush home I hadn’t stretched fully and suddenly had tight, tight hamstrings…. ouch.
Tight hamstrings can affect your posture, your movement, stop you using your abdominals correctly and lead to tight back muscles. If you usually have tight hamstrings it lead to a tucked under pelvis as part of the hamstrings function is to keep the pelvis aligned. When muscles are tight, they are weak. This means they can’t hold the pelvis in position properly 🙁 So you end up with a tilted pelvis, you can’t use your core muscles properly and your body compensates, meaning it all comes out of line and you get backache.
Hoe do you know if your hamstrings are tight? Good question. According to these guys http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/cybertherapist/back/hamstrings/tighthams/hastringstretches.php you should be able to lie down, with one leg extended on the mat and the other leg in the air, foot towards ceiling, this leg should go to 80-90 degrees comfortably. Give it a go. Is your leg staying down on the mat? Check your spine, are you still in neutral? If the answer is No, you need to take the raised leg further away from the body and do some hamstring stretches.
So tonight at the end of Pilates we stretched out using resistance bands. It felt good. After everyone had gone I went back in the studio and had a good long stretch using a band….oh my, that was needed 🙂
If like me you rush around and sometimes, (well actually in my case often) forget to devote proper time to stretching try and build some in this weekend. Be it in front of the TV, whilst out in the garden or whilst waiting for your roast dinner to cook…your body will thank you for it!
Let me know how it goes…comment below or send me a tweet (@dietitianuk).
So having a baby can mean its harder to fit in time to exercise….however it’s usually possible to multi-task and exercise with the baby. Today myself and baby went for a buggy run, we managed 6km, running slightly slower than my usual pace but I worked out that this was probably due to the fact I wasn’t able to use my arms to help propel myself forward as I had to push the buggy. It was certainly harder work as well, which made it all the more of a challenge for me and appealed to my competitive streak! Baby enjoyed it immensely sleeping the whole time. At the end of my run I used the buggy as an aid and squeezed in some lunges, squats and then laying on the grass enjoyed a little bit of pilates! I’m not sure what all the passers by thought but I certainly enjoyed exercising in the outdoors and got a great workout. I hope you’ve managed to squeeze in your exercise today….