A friend sent me a meme today that said "athletes eat and train, they don't diet and exercise" and it struck me how words that are so similar can have a very different emphasis and the power to change our perspective.
I also want you to know you ARE an athlete. Don't laugh this off. I am dead set serious. Your sport is mummying. It involves repeated heavy lifting, constant bending and lunging, holding awkward positions for long periods and you rarely get a day off, all while experiencing unpredictable sleep patterns. If that isn't the definition of an athlete, I don't know what is!
With social and mainstream media pressures to 'bounce back' and 'lose the baby weight' (I hate those terms soooo much) it is no wonder mums lose sight of making sure their nutrition and exercise choices are fit for purpose. What food and exercise choices are going to have mums back functioning at the capacity they need in order to heal their postnatal bodies and 'mummy' day-in-day-out? This is where you need to build your support team.
If an athlete was injured they would have a specific plan for rehabilitation to get them back to their peak performance. Mums deserve that too! Depending on your situation, you might need to seek professional advice from a variety of experts such as dieticians, physiotherapists, massage therapists, exercise physiologists and postnatal trainers to truly create a recovery plan that is specific to you. But don't let that long list scare you. Every mum is different and we are here to help you navigate your postnatal recovery journey with referrals to local practitioners and resources.
If you would like help with your postnatal recovery plan (no matter how old your kids are) give Go Mum! a call.
A long term client (2.5 years and two children later) rang me today to tell me that she would no longer be coming to classes. Not because she didn't love the venues, the friendships she had made or me as a trainer, but because she felt she was ready to venture into other forms of exercise. As she was singing my praises and apologising for moving on, my heart was filled with joy and satisfaction. This is exactly why Go Mum exists! We don't want to hold onto our clients forever. Instead, we strive to provide a safe place for mums to learn about their postnatal bodies, move within their physical boundaries and strengthen and rebuild in order to cater for the physical nature of motherhood and get them back doing the sports and activities they love.
It got me thinking about the reasons why mums come to join us at Go Mum Group Fitness. Sometimes it is because they have a postnatal condition such as prolapse or diastasis and need a trainer who can cater for these issues, sometimes it is because they have always enjoyed group fitness but just need to be able to do it with their kids in tow. Either way, every Go Mum client becomes part of the Go Mum tribe, welcome to come and go with each pregnancy and birth, or from time to time join in the social activities or physical challenges that appeal to them. We want each mum to chase what makes them feel good, inspires their mind and nourishes their soul. We want all mums to enjoy exercise for a lifetime, and we are proud to be a part of that journey.
If you would like to experience a Go Mum class first hand, join us for a free trial class. We look forward to welcoming you soon.
Motherhood is tough.
And I am not even talking about the sleepless nights, or constantly being in a state of high alert, or the fact that the work you do as a mum is generally undervalued by society (doesn't that suck!).
I mean it is physically tough.
It may not exactly look like an episode of Australian Ninja Warrior, but when your core has been stretched beyond what you thought was humanly possible and your pelvic floor has pushed out a human (or you have had major abdominal surgery by way of a c-section) the task of lifting a pram into the back of the car can seem as insurmountable as the warped wall!
So once the new mum fog has lifted and you feel like moving again what should the focus be? I vote for "getting shit done, pain free". We want to be moving freely, without daily tasks being a literal pain in the neck/back/butt.
Here are just some of the examples of the physical tasks mums do on a regular basis:
So how to we achieve that?
"Training for the Functions of Daily Life"
It is all about preparing for the physical tasks of motherhood by training for the functions of daily life. At Go Mum, we do this by replicating commonly used movement patterns from daily life into our exercise programs and regressing or progressing the difficulty of those exercises dependent on the mother's stage of recovery. We aim to gradually rebuild the strength and function that allows mums to tackle daily tasks with minimal effort and without pain.
If you are just starting your return to exercise (regardless of how long ago you had your baby) you might like to consider the following steps as a general guide to postnatal recovery progression. However, keep in mind that each step is not mutually exclusive. For example, you can do cardio while still working on your pelvic floor.
1. Shift your Mindset
Acknowledge that it will take time and that weight loss may not be the first step in the process. You are on a journey of healing that will set you up for a lifetime of pain free movement. Just because you can't see the difference doesn't mean you won't feel the difference your training is making. Focus on setting some goals around how you want to feel and what you want to be able to do.
2. Get an assessment
Rebuilding pelvic floor function and preventing further damage should be a consideration in every type of exercise you do as a woman (regardless of whether you have any current pelvic floor issues or not). Having a pelvic floor and abdominal check by a women's health physiotherapist will provide you with useful information on where you are at and give you a great starting point to measure progress.
3. Reconnect with your Core
With a little guidance from a health and fitness professional specialising in postnatal recovery, you can make a start towards reestablishing core strength and function. Your core supports your whole body as it moves and we can only increase the intensity of our exercise to a point where our core can support it. This can be a lesson in patience as abdominal recovery can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Also, weeing when exercising is a sign that our system is not functioning correctly and should not be dismissed as an inevitable side effect of motherhood (refer to point 2).
4. Build Strength
For all that lifting we do as mums, strength is an absolute MUST. Strength training does not mean getting bulky and through functional movements that replicate daily life you can quickly see the benefits.
5. Add in some Cardio
Nobody wants to feel breathless when they are running around with their kids. A little cardio work can go a long way to making us feel well and allowing us to engage in fun activities with our family. Low impact cardio options are available so you can protect your pelvic floor while still getting a post cardio workout buzz. Your postnatal trainer can guide you on ways to engage in cardio exercise while protecting your pelvic floor.
Some Final Notes:
I hope you have found this article useful and would love to hear what you found most beneficial when returning to exercise.
About The Author
Christine is a pregnancy and postnatal trainer with a passion for pelvic floor and abdominal friendly movement. Her interest in this area was sparked after her own battles with prolapse and diastasis.
Christine holds a Cert III and Cert IV in Fitness and has undergone specific training in exercise for pregnancy, postnatal pelvic floor and abdominal recovery and group exercise instruction. Christine is registered with Fitness Australia (Reg No. 095064) and a member of the Continence Foundation of Australia. She also holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA), a Bachelor of Leisure Management and volunteers as President of Friends of the Birth Centre to advocate for improved maternity services for women in Queensland.
If there is one exercise to master, it is the squat. Chances are, as a mum, you have an abundance of opportunities to squat in daily life, so let’s maximise this opportunity for some great glute activation while connecting with our core and pelvic floor in an optimal way.
Here are my top five tips for getting the most out of your squats:
This can be a rather personal thing when squatting. People have different shaped hip sockets that can make some squats more comfortable than others or allow some people to have greater range in a certain stance than others. Most people prefer to have their feet at shoulder width, if not a little wider. Also, you may find it more comfortable to turn your toes out slightly which will allow for the weight to be in the heels and a deeper range of motion. It is also recommended that women with prolapse use a narrower stance so that the pelvic floor isn’t as stretched (and compromised) during the movement.
How we breath when under load has a big impact on our pelvic floor. For our squats we want to inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up. It will give you more power as you come up and help lift the pelvic floor rather than pushing down on it during the exertion part of the movement.
3. The Movement
There are usually two errors I see made with posture during the squat. Either mums tip forward too much when they come down into their squat so they are hinging at the hips, or they are keeping too upright and flaring their ribs out with an arch in the lower back. Think about staying tall as you squat but keeping your ribs down. Also, aim to keep your knees behind your toes as you squat down and push through your heels to come up.
When I was first being trained as a PT at 16 years of age, my mentor was big on visualising the muscle/s you are wanting to work. It stuck with me and is possibly why I have always had the ability to activate a muscle on request. Very handy at the physio. Here is a visualisation for your squats. As you descend into the squat inhale and imagine the weight being back in your heels, as you exhale visualise pushing down through your heels, lifting up through the pelvic floor and squeezing the buttocks.
5. Exercise selection
There are a plethora of squat exercises to choose from so you are bound to find some faves. Narrow squats, sumo squats, split squats (aka lunges), single leg squats, etc, etc. Listen to your body, check in with your pelvic floor and pick the squat that feels good for you.
Squats are a movement for life. We have opportunities to use them in everyday activities and are vital to remaining active as we age. My love affair with the humble squat started during my recovery from prolapse surgery. I was still having incontinence issues and didn't see any significant improvement until I got my squat technique right. I was hooked.
Here are the main physiological reasons why squats are a MUST DO exercise.
Check back this week or join our closed group on Facebook for more tips on tuning your squat technique.
I vividly remember my first kickboxing class. I was 21 and had recently broken up with a boyfriend who I thought had sapped every last bit of my confidence. But for some reason I felt it was a good idea to take up kickboxing at my local PCYC. I didn't know anyone, they were mostly male participants and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Maybe my sub-conscience knew that it was time to stand up or be stood on forever!
A magical thing happened at that first class. A guardian angel in the shape of a petite, blonde competitive kickboxer gifted me my first pair of boxing wraps and showed me in one hour how strength and fragility, kindness and fierceness can coexist in the one body at the same time. My confidence was restored and I hit and kicked that bag with all I had. I was hooked.
I kept up with the boxing side of kickboxing over the years and it was something my husband and I enjoyed doing together pre-children. After I had our second child I remember doing my first boxing session thinking, "this doesn't feel right". My core stability was not yet able to cope with the twisting and impact and subsequently my pelvic floor was bearing the brunt of every blow. Boxing had to take a back seat for a while until my core was stronger and functioning well and my pelvic floor had regained some strength.
Another important factor in my return to this much loved sport revolved around changing how I thought about boxing and what I was really trying to achieve. I was no longer trying to punch out the imaginary face of my ex-boyfriend on the focus mitt with everything I had, and I realised I needed to modify my boxing to get the benefits I enjoyed previously but within my body's current abilities. So I applied what I had learnt about pelvic floor health and exercise to boxing and ran it past some physio friends for good measure.
Here are the top tips for pelvic floor friendly boxing we came up with:
Boxing doesn't have to be like Fight Club and you don't need to be an expert before you put on a pair of gloves. At Go Mum we pride ourselves on having a relaxed, fun atmosphere where everyone is welcome and we can support mums to get the most out of pelvic floor aware training.
If you haven't tried boxing before, here are some of the benefits you can expect:
To work on your pelvic floor friendly boxing technique, join us on Thursday's at Enoggera for our Boxing Mums class. Kids of all ages welcome to play while mum works out. If you are not sure if you are ready to start back at boxing due to pelvic floor or abdominal separation please call Christine to check the best course of action 0402 211 927.
Christine is the owner of Go Mum! Group Fitness and is a prolapse and diastasis survivor with a passion for pelvic floor and abdominal safe exercise.
Walking is one of the few exercises for postnatal women that all the experts agree on. It is like the holy grail of postnatal fitness. All bow for the mighty power of walking!!
Did you notice the sarcasm there? Let me clarify. I agree wholeheartedly that walking is an essential exercise for not only postnatal women but human beings generally. It has many benefits (see below) and most of us need to do more of it. But, chances are you are talking the same route at the same pace and expecting improved results. If we want to see lasting benefits we need to mix it up so that our bodies continue to adapt. It is not simply enough to go for a walk.
Check out our top 5 tips for effective walking workouts and let us know if you see a difference in your results.
Benefits of Walking
5 Tips for Effective Walking
The walking workout below will take you between 15-20mins to complete. The exercises don't have to be done in this order.
We all know that feeling of getting out of bed the day after a workout and discovering our legs are stiff and sore as we hobble off to the bathroom. The term for it is DOMS, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.
A little bit of soreness reminds us that we have used muscles we haven't used in a while or we are using them in a new way and indicates our muscles are strengthening and repairing. However we don't want this soreness to be so severe that we are in pain and can barely move.
When returning to exercise after a break (one week or one year) it can be a real shock to the system. Follow these tips to help ensure you avoid crippling muscle pain or injury.
The above guidelines are also relevant when returning to exercise post pregnancy.
Good luck! x
Join our Closed Facebook Group for more weekly tips on exercising well.
At Go Mum! we are famous for having a friendly and supportive exercise environment. But don't take our word for it. We asked Rachel, a Go Mum mum about her experiences of motherhood and exercise.
1. How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have two children. Caitlin is three and a half and Thomas is about to turn one.
2. What do you most like about being a Mum?
Watching them grow and develop their personalities. Caitlin is now at an age where she can come out with pretty funny comments and ideas. Yesterday when I was trying to get her to talk she told me that she had lost her voice and that her mouth was in her leg! I love sharing with them things that I enjoyed as a child with my parents, be that blowing bubbles from soapy water in the bath with Thomas, or craft adventures with Caitlin.
3. Were you nervous about getting back into exercise after having a baby? If so, why?
I don't remember being nervous about getting back into exercise but I was a bit apprehensive about how I would manage to exercise whilst looking after a baby. Thomas was two months old when I did my first class at Go Mum and I remember that when he got a bit unsettled I popped him in the carrier for a while until that no longer worked and then Christine gave him some cuddles and he was fine! I've not had to worry about juggling exercise and childcare since as Christine is wonderful at helping out.
4. How long have you been training with Go Mum! Group Fitness?
Since January 2016.
5.1. Before starting with Go Mum! what level of understanding did you have about the importance of core & pelvic floor strength for pre and post-natal women? (out of 1-10, 1 being no understanding, 10 being a guru!).
I'd say a 2. I had some idea it was important but didn't know why. I remember going for a walk on my first day home after getting out of hospital with Caitlin (she was born by c- section) and I felt like I'd run a marathon before I got to the end of the road! After having Thomas I eased back into it much more gradually and through Christine have learnt lots.
6. What do you enjoy most about training with Go Mum! Group Fitness?
The friendly nature of the classes - everyone is supportive of one another - and the fact that I know my children are happy whilst I am exercising.
7. What are your main fitness goals for 2016?
To fit exercise into my life each day be that a Go Mum class, a walk or a swim. I like to mix it up!
8. Tips or tricks for new mums getting back into exercise
Know your limits - don't push your body if it doesn't feel right. And most of all enjoy! Exercise can be the last thing you feel like doing when you're sleep deprived but rarely do you feel worse for doing some.
9. What are you most grateful for as a mum?
Having two happy and healthy children and being able to watch them grow. I am so very lucky.
Thanks Rachel! We love having you and the kids in class and we will see you soon.
It can be daunting walking into a new class or gym but we have your back. Our trainers love helping out with your kids, and our classes are filled with everyday mums that are there for safe, fun, kid friendly exercise. We hope to see you in class soon.
When I attended the Women's Health and Fitness Summit in September I attended a Spin Session for instructors which prompted me to research further into cycling and the pelvic floor. Here are some of the tips I picked up to ensure cycling is safe for your pelvic floor.
Is Cycling Safe for a Weak Pelvic Floor?
The short answer is yes, but like all things pelvic floor related, it is not that simple. When you are cycling while seated the seat supports your pelvic floor, a big plus. However, if you are in a spin class or riding on ground that has steep hills, your pelvic floor is exposed to increased pressure. Here are some tips to help you enjoy this great form of exercise while taking care of your pelvic floor.
Make sure your bike fits your body
Making sure your bike fits your body is the first step, so here are some tips to have you sitting pretty:
Cycling with Pelvic Floor Weakness or Prolapse
Generally, when exercising with pelvic floor weakness/prolapse, the aim is to minimise the downward pressure on the pelvic floor. Our breathing and posture impact the amount of pressure and it is those things we are trying to minimise in our cycling:
What about Spin Classes?
Spinning is a high intensity exercise that can still be enjoyed by women with pelvic floor weakness/prolapse with a few simple modifications. It is a great substitute for running too. So if you are keen to up your heart rate, reduce stress and get sweaty it may be the exercise for you.
Top tips for Spin Classes:
Join our closed Facebook group (Go Mum! Community) for more great training tips and remember to see a women's health physio if you have any concerns about your pelvic floor.
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