Tips and advice from post-natal exercise expert Peter Lap
5 top tips to strengthening your pelvic floor
1. Know your pelvic floor. Sure, you’re told to strengthen it, but do you actually know what your pelvic floor consists of? What does it look like, and what does it do? I could go into a whole spiel but just watch this 10 minute Youtube video. This will give you a much better understanding of HOW pelvic floor exercise can help you and what you should be looking out for when doing your exercises.
2. Know what to do and do it well. Don’t rush through the exercises. Pay attention to the “form” of the Kegel exercises. Do them nice and steady, they only take 3-5 minutes.
3. Start as soon as you feel ready. Recovery is always easiest if you start the exercising as soon as you feel comfortable. For most post-partum women this can be after 1-2 weeks. Don’t rush it though, listening to your body is key at this stage.
BTW, don’t worry if you’re reading this and you’ve left it a while. You can always strengthen up a muscle and today is as good a day as any to get started.
4. Consistency is key. Like with all forms of exercise, it really helps if you work a muscle regularly. Do your pelvic floor exercises every day to achieve the best results.
5. Get an app to help you remember to do them. Tena, yes the diaper guys, do a nice free one which you can download here. The NHS also do one which costs £2.99
The BEST post-partum exercise programme
There are a lot of post-partum exercise programs out there and some of them are excellent.
I always say that the best programmes are the ones you can stick to so whatever works for you is great. Just make sure you pick a program designed by an expert as your body is quite delicate at this stage and we don’t want to get it wrong.
I am deliberately ignoring the free post-partum programmes here. You’ll see a lot of videos on Youtube that claim to be post-natal workouts but, quite often, they are not suitable and not run by experts. The below 3 have all been created by people who are experts in their field
The Mutu system. Mutu has been around for a long time and is the one most women hear about during, or after, their pregnancy. It’s a very well established 12-week program. It’s pricey; at £99 for a 12-week programme it’s at the top end of exercise programmes. They have a Facebook group that you can use for support from other members.
Jessie Mundell Core + Floor and Restore. Jessie is probably one of the most knowledgeable Post-Natal exercise specialists in the US and her 8-week program comes in at $97.
Healthypostnatalbody.com. Of course, I must mention my own program as it’s right up there. Not only do we only charge £8 per month, we also have dedicated forums where you can ask any exercise related question you have and an expert will answer it. This means that there is someone out there ready to help you.
As long as you work with someone who knows what they’re doing then it doesn’t really matter which one you find is most suitable for you.
The 3 stages of post-natal training
Stage 1. Muscle activation. During pregnancy some muscles “switch off” and others start doing some of their work for them. The glutes and core are especially affected by this. When you’re ready to start exercising again we have to make sure the right muscles are working at the right time. The hips should not be doing the job of the obliques. And the lower back won’t need to work as hard if your glutes, the muscles in your bum, are doing their job properly. This stage takes about 4-6 weeks, depending on how long ago you gave birth.
Stage 2. Strength and endurance. As you can probably imagine, some muscles get quite weak during the pregnancy. All the time they have spent out of position, stretching and switching off means they need to strengthen up a bit again. Doing to right exercises here will help you with your posture and prevent any future pain. You can see some amazing results during this period, and you’ll feel a lot stronger after this stage. This takes about 4-8 weeks.
Stage 3. Any non-urgent things. Has your pregnancy left you with knee pain, discomfort in your hips or posture problems? Pain does not have to be the “new normal”. During this stage you can start to address them as all the major muscles are back in place and working properly again. This is the bit that will have you feeling stronger, fitter and more confident than you ever were. This takes as long as you want it to.
How to cure the never ending back ache from pregnancy !
Ah back ache, the curse of the modern mom. Did you know that most of the time lower back pain is not actually caused by an issue with the lower back? It’s almost always to do with the surrounding muscles. Basically, there are two causes of back ache in mums.
1. Backpain from the pregnancy.
This is caused by your glutes, the muscles in your bum, switching off a bit during pregnancy and your lower back muscles compensating for them.
Your centre of gravity shifts when you’re pregnant and your glutes “disappear”. You know that little “waddle” a lot of highly pregnant ladies develop? That’s because your centre of gravity shifts. And this causes your glutes to “disappear”. A lot of my clients like to say “My bum got bigger when I was pregnant but, somehow, it also got flatter!”
An ideal exercise to help with this is the Resistance Band Glute Kicks. 3 sets of 20 should really have you feeling the burn 😊 Getting these muscles to activate again, thereby giving your lower back a bit of a break, will resolve this.
Youtube link youtu.be/IMgNl7d-98A
2. Back pain from breastfeeding/carrying the baby/lumping travel-systems about and generally doing a million things at once.
This is usually caused by you losing good posture throughout the day. For example; When you’re breastfeeding, your shoulders move forward and this brings your shoulder-blades out of position. This essentially stretches the muscles in your upper-back. Unless you do exercises to combat this the upper-back will get a bit weaker et voila, the lower back starts acting up as well. This is regularly accompanied by neck-pain. By strengthening the muscles underneath and between your shoulder blades you will see a great improvement in your posture and your back ache will go away.
I have a great exercise for this for which you just need a resistance band. It’s called a Pull-Apart and it might look simple but it’s a mighty little exercise
You tube link youtu.be/IEKPxPIoprc
For more information head to healthypostnatalbody.com