After working for so many years now in post natal exercise, I’ve noticed some patterns.
And so it occurred to me recently that every day I am asked the same basic question.
It goes something like this:
There are other versions of this question, such as; "how long do I need to wait before I can run/do pump classes/rock climb (insert hard exercise here)?
I get why these are common questions. I went to my 6 week check up post birth, and with barely a look in I was “all clear” to do whatever I wanted.
But think about it - does this even make sense?
Because in my experience - it’s not about the amount of time that has passed.
It’s about what your body currently can and can’t do.
And personally, I think this approach is letting women down.
Instead of looking at whether you’ve reached the magic 6 week mark (or 6 month or even 6 year mark) - ask yourself these questions about your exercise instead:
Can you perform the movement correctly (and do you know what that looks like)?
Does it make you experience leakage or back pain?
How strong is your connective tissue currently around each joint ?
Have you built up to this workout over time and in sequence, or jumped straight in?
How are the inner unit of muscles working in your core compared to the outer unit of muscles? (more on that in a later post...)
Do you know how to correctly activate your deep core and pelvic floor - and can you do that effectively during your workout?
Some women know the right people, the right specialists, and really can do strength and cardio 6-8 weeks post birth. It doesn't look like cross fit. It isn't sprints or marathons, but it's a light, 'making progress' type of version.
In fact, women I have worked with during pregnancy and immediately post partum actually do progress very quickly, under the right guidance, while their bodies are literally primed to heal and strengthen in those early post-birth days.
Our core is designed to repair well in the right environment.
But a lot of women are given detrimental exercises, or no support or structure to follow - and it doesn’t matter how many weeks (years) post birth they are - working out in certain ways while they still need to heal is not going to serve them.
It’s about the order of exercises you follow, how you progress your training, and whether you build the tensile, connective tissue strength (not muscular strength!) to endure load.
The right sequence builds the layers of strength and healing in the order that is physiologically needed post having children.
Appreciate your body as something beautifully unique, to be cared for exactly as it is now. Learn how to self-assess by a professional, or participate in a course, so you can start training from exactly where you are at.
And then no matter how long ago you had your babies, if you take your time and listen to how you're feeling, you’ll generally heal and strengthen easily, and well.
Kristy Ahale is the founder of The Postpartum Method: a 3 level core training program based on the science of neuromuscular stabilisation.
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