In a word, no.
According to various studies, roughly a third of postnatal women suffer with some form of pelvic floor problem post-birth, but in my experience, I believe this figure to be much higher.
Put it this way, there are a lot of women suffering in silence with “sensitive bladder” issues as it’s now commonly termed (annoyingly coined, shall I add, as though it’s a perfectly normal issue for women to suffer with).
Don’t get me started on those “whoops moments” adverts – they drive me nuts and the actor portrayed is actually quite young.
Wetting (or indeed pooing) yourself whilst going about your day-to-day activities is NOT normal, alrighty?
‘Relax your shoulders’
When you’re training with me during pregnancy, I try my very hardest to strengthen your arms and shoulders by doing lots of upper body exercises – in correct alignment – to prepare you for motherhood and beyond.
In my postnatal classes – the same rule applies, but unfortunately by the time you’ve got to me with your new baby – sometimes, lots and lots of bad habits have set in.
Not sure if your abdominal muscles have knitted back together properly after birth?
Didn’t get your tummy looked at at your 6-week check up?
Know you need to do exercises, but not sure where to start?
Fixing mummies’ tummies is kind of my speciality!
And, I’m here to help.
Well, when it comes to fixing abdominal separation, gone are the days when I can just say:
“Here’s a program of 4 exercises for you. Do them every day for the next month and get back to me.”
Sorry – was that what you were after?
No, no – wait…!
Focussing solely on your mid-section and training just your abdominal muscles in an effort to ‘fix’ any distension in your tummy muscles is what’s called ‘spot reducing’.
Put simply, ‘spot reducing’ is where you focus on just one muscle group, one body part, or just one area of your body and try and tone the hell out of it!
Oh, and if you’re doing sit ups and suspect you have abdominal separation – they aren’t the answer.
In fact, sit ups will make abdominal separation worse.
The human body is made up of hundreds of muscles and bones. And, let me tell you – if the muscles in your body can find an easy way of doing something – they will.
And, they’ll do it over and over and over again until a nice little muscle imbalance has found its way in there.
How do you think these everyday mummy movements affect your overall posture?
- always holding baby with your dominate arm,
- winding baby over the same shoulder all the time (did some one say colic?),
- sitting slumped over feeding baby…for hours and hours and hours (no one tells you that, do they?),
- propping baby up on one hip,
- pushing a buggy uphill with your arms out-stretched and shoulders lifted….(and your bum out for all to see!)
These things all create muscular imbalances, don’t they?
If even one of your muscles is tight, weak or stretched, does it make sense that other muscles will try and compensate?
Because, indeed they do.
Everyday’s a school day, eh?
Do you want some good news though?
Ok, well fortunately for you – there are many ways of fixing abdominal separation.
Education is key here particularly when it comes to discovering the ‘cause and effect’ of abdominal separation – and all of your other postural traits.
Here are some points I consider when treating you for abdominal separation:
- Is this your first/second/third/fourth baby?
- Do you suspect you had abdominal separation that went untreated if it’s not your first baby?
- What exercise did you do prior to getting pregnant?
- How’s your posture right now?
- Can you breathe correctly?
- Do you actually have any ‘core’ strength?
- What muscles are really tight for you?
- Which muscles dominate your entire system, without you realising it?
- What tasks are you doing with a newborn that might be attributing to your abdominal separation?
- Is your pelvic floor ok, or do you need help with that too?
Can you see what I mean?
Assessing, treating and rehabilitating a new mum for abdominal separation needs to move away just doing tummy exercises.
It needs a broader, full-body approach to get your system working and functioning in a more optimal way.
I’ve had success ‘fixing’ clients’ abdominal separations back to normal – from as quickly as 7 weeks which is pretty cool, right?
What’s also encouraging is that I’ve created a 7 Steps to Fixing Abdominal Separation method myself and this is exactly what I’m talking about:
A whole-body, ‘everything working as one’, proper unit-type system…
….That gets results!
If you suspect you have abdominal separation, don’t be concerned. I can help.
Book a 1-2-1 individualised personal training session with me either in person, or via Skype, where we can sit down, get you assessed and get your body back on the road to recovery.
If you missed the previous articles, click here to read them:
Today, I’m talking about How Alignment Affects Your Baby’s Ability to Move From a Breech to an Engaged Position.
It’s an interesting topic and one that’s not covered in much detail at antenatal education classes.
If you’re close to term and need to move baby from a breech to engaged position – you’ll want to keep reading….!
You learnt to walk from your parents, or whoever it was that spent the most time with you as a toddler.
So, if you have a foot turn-out (that’s where you naturally stand, sit and walk with your toes in at ‘10 to 2’ position), chances are, your baby will stand, sit and walk like this too.
Your baby once he/she is at that ‘toddling’ stage will observe you walking and learns how to walk from you.
So, if you take strides with a your feet in a turned out position, your baby will have no other option but to demonstrate an external turn-out of the feet, the knees and the hip joints too.
Let me tell you a story…
When it comes to alignment during pregnancy, you may not realise, but the way that you stand, sit and even walk, all have a direct influence on your body and your baby.
Having a pelvis that’s in its optimal position will make childbirth a lot easier. No surprise there.
A toddler doesn’t just learn to walk all of a sudden – it observes how YOU move and mimics your movements.
So, how you hold yourself and go about your day, will affect your toddlers’ gait too.
A baby’s ability to move from a breech position into the head down position, ready for labour, will be determined by a number of factors, but the main one is whether your deep hip flexor muscles are flexible enough for him/her to make manoeuvre. Interesting, huh?
I’ll go into the first point in more detail for you now, and cover the other two topics in a future blog post, ok?
If I’ve whet your appetite about how your posture, pelvic floor and your ability to give birth are all linked to posture, then keep reading:
SPACE IN AND THE SHAPE OF YOUR PELVIS
Without going into too much detail, put simply, if you sit down a lot, and have done for the majority of your day for the past how ever many years, your pelvic floor muscles might end up in a ‘tightened’ state. This is not really good news when you’re trying to push a baby out through your privates, now is it?
When we sit down in a relaxed state it’s often done so with a tucked under tailbone. Check out your posture now if you’re reading this in seated. Are you sitting on the edge of the chair with your tailbone out and your legs uncrossed, or are you sat with your back against the backrest, molding yourself to the chair, Homer Simpson, style?
If it’s the latter and you’ve done a lot of it before becoming pregnant, chances are the space between your pubic bone and your tailbone has actually got shorter. Why does that matter? Well, it kind of does, if you’re about to push a baby out through it, doesn’t it?
The pelvic floor shouldn’t be tight – it should be flexible, and when it comes to pregnancy in particular, it’s your pelvic floor that needs to have enough ‘give’ in it, to facilitate childbirth to physically get baby out through the birth canal.
If you visualise your pelvis looking downwards, the shape of the bowl or outlet of the pelvis should be somewhat circular. If your pelvic floor muscles are tight, it means you’ve changed the shape of your pelvis, and I know I’d much rather push a baby out through a circular outlet, than try and do so from a flat oval shaped one.
Getting some flexibility back into your pelvic floor muscles isn’t unachievable. It’ll just require a lot of squats, exercises to help strengthen the glutes to pull your tailbone back from out of the pelvis and a lot less sitting.
When you do sit, here’s how you should be positioned:
- bum towards the edge of the chair,
- feet flat,
- knees hip distance or a little wider to accommodate bump,
- hip bones forwards (meaning you might need to stick you butt out a bit to get the hip bones on top of the pubic bone),
- rib cage down, and
- chin in.
For some simple, effective exercises you can do which will get you thinking about your posture at work, rest and play, click here for a downloadable worksheet of movements you can do to help re-align your body and prepare you better for labour.
If you’re a desk-bound worker, a new mum or someone who does repetitive movements day in day out, it’s no wonder you get tension in your neck, shoulders and back, is it?
All that over-use of the same muscles, lifting, moving, twisting, feeding/caring for your baby if you’re a new mum etc, it’s no wonder your posture gets affected by it.
I hope it makes good reading. The question is: are you ready to make some changes? Ok. Let’s do this.
GET UP AND MOVE
The number one reason clients (that’s EVERYONE, by the way) suffer with back pain is because our current lifestyle requires us to sit down. A lot. At work we’re sitting. At rest we’re sitting. Our spine isn’t really designed for this positioning. Well, not continuously, anyway. So, point number one is: if you’ve been seated for more than 30 minutes (regardless of whether you’ve shifted position or not), get up and move. NOW!
STRETCH YOUR CHEST, NECK AND SHOULDERS
Regular stretching of your chest, neck and shoulders, like those I mentioned in a recent article to you, is paramount to: getting blood flow into those aching muscles, relieving tension and easing the symptoms.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SHOULDERS
Those of you who attend my Pilates classes will hear me say constantly: “Slide your shoulders back and down”, or “Drop your shoulders away from your ears”, or even “For the love of God, stop wearing your shoulders as earrings!”. Tee hee. But, on a serious note, for optimum shoulder placement (and to stop that niggling neck/shoulder ache), sit or stand tall, and slide your shoulders back and down your rib cage behind you. Feels much better, doesn’t it? Now, make a concerted effort, throughout the rest of the day to become more aware of your shoulder positioning.
Stretching your back in a safe and effective manner, is a really nice way of releasing tension on those over-used back extensors. Your lumbar spine only has 5 vertebrae, but, let me tell you, those 5 bones can cause some individuals a lot of discomfort. Take a look at the picture opposite of a Cat Curl stretch. It’s much safe to stretch your back in this position than it is by bending backwards in standing or
Doctor’s recommend it, Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists all condone it as a safe and effective form of exercise to combat back pain. Pilates works your deep abdominal muscles or “core”, which in turn help support your back. The more your strengthen your “core”, the stronger your back will become from the support of your abdominals at the front. Check out my YouTube channel for workouts you can do which are suitable for everyone to perform. Let me know how you get on.
And there you have it! My top 5 tips for improving your posture right NOW! I bet you feel better already.