5 tips to make sure postnatal exercise doesn’t turn into postnatal pain
October 11, 2017
About 6 months after my daughter was born I was beginning to have more energy and felt like I was ready to go back to proper exercise.
I had many years of back pain in the past but I’d had none at all since she was born so I thought the whole process had cured me. I’d been doing a lot of walking, but no other exercise so I knew that I should go back into it gently. I thought I would try yoga to start with to get my limbs working and stretching again. I chose a beginners course on Youtube which I could do while she was napping. I’d always found yoga really hard in the past. I’d often picked it up and then given up because my muscles were so tight I felt I just couldn’t stretch far enough. Also, being surrounded by more experienced people in the class always put me off.
The first day went well and I felt really good afterwards. I really pushed into the downward dog as far as I could, managed the warrior pose like never before. So I did it again the next day. It was a little trickier, I felt a bit sore from the day before, but I ignored that and carried on. And then bang, something went in my back and I was suddenly in agony. It was roughly in the same area that my usual pain had been in the past but felt different. Worse. Well, that led to many appointments at my osteopath and a few months of not being able to pick up my daughter all the time. I had not taken account that the relaxin hormone was still working in my body. This makes everything very stretchy. It makes you feel great on the one hand but actually means you can push your body too far. Also, I wasn’t thinking about how I was moving into each pose, unaware if my spine was in alignment as it should be. I just wanted to push as far as I could. I was only thinking about the end pose not how I should move into that pose.
From this I took 5 things to think about before starting after having a baby.
Consider how your body was before pregnancy. Underlying issues could still be there.
Never underestimate what your body has been through giving birth. Even ‘gentle’ exercise can be too much. Do one session and have a few days break to think about how your body has reacted before rushing in.
When exercising, think about how you are using your body. Small things like gritting your teeth, or curling your toes can have a knock on affect throughout your body. Alexander Technique ‘directions’ (thoughts) can really help with this.
We shouldn’t always be pushing to get to that end point whether that’s running to the end of the street, or being able to touch our toes. It’s more important to look at how we are getting there. As I’m sure you’ve heard as a lesson in life many times before!
Stop as soon as it starts hurting, lie down in semi-supine and think about why you might be hurting, where you are holding too much, or overusing muscles. I’ll be posting a video on lying down soon.
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