The postpartum journey is full of ups and downs and lots of learning. As new moms we deal with a lot of things…lack of sleep, lots of spit-up, numerous appointments, diaper blowouts, house messes, loads of laundry, and uncontrollable crying…but what we should NOT have to deal with postpartum is back/hip/pelvic pain, leaking, and core weakness.
Our bodies change a LOT during pregnancy and there is very little guidance postpartum on return to activities. It is important to remember that our bodies have changed before going back to daily activities- like folding laundry, lifting items in the kitchen, carrying your child, and etc. Our bodies, unfortunately, don’t automatically go back to “normal” 6 weeks postpartum like we want them to. There is a wide range of diagnoses for postpartum moms including diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction, back/hip pain, and much more. The purpose of this blog is not to go into depth on each diagnosis but rather to discuss how we can all generally restore our bodies postpartum in order to move better through motherhood.
One of the big physical changes during pregnancy is our pelvis repositioning. Postnatal our pelvis is going to be in a different position than prenatal. I often use the analogy of a fruit bowl- in a neutral position the fruit stays in our pelvic bowl. Postnatal our pelvis is rolled forward and the fruit is falling forward out of the bowl. If the pelvis is not in a neutral position then there can be a lot of low back, hip, and pelvic floor issues, as well as issues down the leg. One way to think of restoring our pelvis posture to a better position is focusing on stacking our ribs over our pelvis. It is important to spend time restoring the pelvis back to a neutral position and maintaining that position with all activities. As new moms, I challenge us all to check in with our posture during daily activities because our posture is going to greatly affect our pelvic floors, our hips, and our backs.
Once we restore the pelvis back to its neutral position the next question is how do we keep it there? There are some very specific muscle groups that we want to target to keep our pelvis in a neutral position during activity. These muscle groups include but are not limited to the following: transversus abdominis, obliques, hamstrings, and gluts. With these muscle groups we need to restore the brain-body connection, or how the brain sends messages to those muscles to “fire” or contract. If we return to daily activities of motherhood without our core being strong then we’re all at a higher risk of injury. This happens because instead of the right muscles working to propel our movements, other muscles will compensate or “cheat” which leads to overuse.
Visualize the core as a La Croix can. In the front we have our deep abs, on the side we have our obliques, at the top is our diaphragm and the bottom is our pelvic floor. We need to be able to synchronize the diaphragm and the pelvic floor together in order to find balance throughout the whole core. Also, we need all of these areas to be strong in order to return to activities without injury or deficit. Unfortunately, this means that having a “strong core” doesn’t happen with just doing sit-ups. Rather, we need to do a variety of exercises for the other important core muscle groups and we need to teach them all how to integrate together. We need to work on both our frontal plane (side to side movements) and our transverse plane (rotation movements), and not just our sagittal plane (front and back movements.)
Our days and lives are full during the postpartum stage but every mama needs to prioritize taking care of our bodies in order that we can take care of our little ones. We need to focus on restoring our pelvis back into a neutral position and then building our core strength in order that we can move better through motherhood. Want to learn more about restoring the position of your pelvis, helping your posture, and building the right core strength? Join us for our new class series STRONG CORE MAMA.
Strong Core Mama is a six session class to improve core and pelvic floor function postpartum. The class will be taught by Anna Towne, Physical Therapist, certified strengthening specialist, fitness instructor, and mom. All classes will be on Thursdays 5:30-6:15pm starting January 23rd at Rebound Sports & Physical Therapy Fort Collins location.
If you have more questions on these topics, you can call us at 970.663.6142 ext. 2 or email Anna Towne directly at [email protected].