Today’s blog is about progression.  So what does this mean exactly? In a general fitness sense the principle of progression states ‘that you should increase overload, which can be achieved by using FITT (frequency, intensity, time and type) when you body adapts to its present routine’.  This progression is important because a structured training regimen enables an individual to establish consistency in their workout routine. Therefore they will improve on the scheduled exercises over a period of time.

This is why when I train a new Mum, there is always a structure and consistency that I follow.  It’s like reading a road map when you want to get from point A to point B. I know the goals of each new Mum as they pretty much all come from the same song sheet. Most mums want to regain control over their bodies, to lose weight they gained during pregnancy and to feel a greater sense of fitness and well-being in themselves, so that they can cope with the everyday demands of a newborn and life.

Increasing Your Exercise

So from my last blog we took a look at the first few exercises I introduce for posture, core, pelvic floor and basic mobility.  This next set of exercises will require more assistance from the global stabilisers than in my last blog.

  • As always, they should be executed slowly and thoughtfully, starting with a small range of movement (ROM) and then increasing as stability improves.  Often I see clients trying to engage with the movement too quickly, which then encourages momentum to take over. As a result, the larger mobilising muscles will take over, rendering the purpose of the original exercise ineffective.
  • Breathing and activation of the TrA (Transversus Abdominis) are as before; inhale and upon exhalation draw the core gently in towards the spine.  Continue to breathe normally. Once this is done and mind/muscle memory takes over, this move will become second nature to Mum and not just during exercise but also when Mum is caring for her little one.
  • These exercises require more assistance from the global stabilisers, which work together as a unit to hold the trunk stable and are very crucial for the movement of the limbs and trunk.  As a reminder, these include Transversus Abdominis (TrA), pelvic floor, deep multifidus (back) and diaphragm.

There are a few to choose from:

Knee Roll

  • Lie on the floor in neutral spinal alignment, with feet together. 
  • Lower knees towards the floor to the right, which in turn will lift the right butt cheek, whilst at the same time keeping the ribcage on the floor. 
  • Slight pause and then return to the centre, repeat other side.
  • (Note of cautious here, Mums who are suffering from Pelvic Girdle Pain [PGP] or a tummy [Rectus Abdominis] separation of more than two fingers should not use this exercise.)

Toe Touch

  • This is another excellent exercise, where Mum is lying on her back, elbows bent and fingertips on her hip bones, knees over hips. 
  • As Mum exhales she should lower the right foot towards the floor, ensuring she is moving from the hip not the knee and her lower back should remain in contact with the floor at all times. 
  • Always begin with slow range of movement (ROM) and progress from there as stability improves.

Leg Glide

  • Same starting position as above, with knees slightly forward of the hips (towards the chest), and feet in line with the knees. 
  • As Mum exhales she gently glides her knees away from the chest, ensuring that the lower legs remain parallel to the floor and her lower back on the floor. 
  • Pause and return to the starting point.
  • As always begin with a slow ROM and progress as stability increases.

Single Leg Stretch

  • Out last exercise has Mum lying on the floor with arms relaxed by her side.
  • Knees and feet as in the starting position above.
  • On the exhale Mum extends one leg towards the ceiling, drawing the other knee further into the chest.
  • Alternate legs, moving simultaneously, whilst ensuring the lower back stays on the floor.
  • For progression, once stability and coordination have been achieved the top leg can be lowered a little more to the floor.

All of these exercises continue to build a strong foundation for a recovering Mum, after she has been given the all-clear at 6-8 weeks. Without this foundation, weaknesses that may have occurred during pregnancy may be exacerbated. They can then cause Mum to suffer further down the road.  This can cause problems for subsequent pregnancies. Changes that occurred during pregnancy need to be taken seriously.  In fact the PAR-Q form I require all my returning Mums to complete is exhaustive to say the least. This covers her fitness history before and during pregnancy. In addition, how she fared during pregnancy, and any problems encountered during that 6-8 week recovery period.

I need as much information as possible to ensure that I train my Mums with a mindful, holistic approach to their recovery. I also feel that it is crucial for women to be fully informed so that they can make wise choices when it comes to their postpartum recovery. This is an area I feel is solely lacking in this country, compared to countries in Asia. But this discussion is for another blog!

Happy Recovery, Happy Mum, Happy You!

References:

  • NHS.UK
  • Postnatal Fitness by Judy DiFiore