Have you ever put the word 'Pilates' into google images and viewed what comes up? You'll be presented with endless photos of beautiful young women doing all kinds of gymnastic and acrobatic Pilates movements which is amazing to see but that's NOT what the originator, Joseph Pilates created it for. No, he was convinced way back in the 1940's that we were moving into an increasingly stressful world and that we all needed to devote far more attention to our fitness and wellbeing no matter what our age. And let's face it, we are all going to spend a lot more time being older rather than younger! Youth is fleeting and once we get past our thirties the wear and tear of an ageing body begins to take it's toll. And that's nothing to get worried about, it's just life, so what can we do?
This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to changing old habits and getting fitter and healthier. Inevitably, post the Christmas excesses I see an influx of new clients eager to lose weight, shape up and get fit for the New Year, and equally within 6-10 weeks many of them will have slipped back into old habits; missing classes or sessions because of work, children, not feeling well and generally feeling they don't have the time needed to do it. Why does this happen year on year I wonder? I think it's because we set our expectations way too high and when we don't reach those impossible heights, we simply give up.
This is a post about this time of year and what it means. Recently I got involved in a charity fundraiser organised by Emma Sinclair MBE in association with Unicef UK. It was a great cause and one I feel strongly about which is to support young women in building their own businesses. Coming from a poor background I’ve not had the benefit of financial support or connections .......
Exercise Post Birth
It goes without saying that new mums want to get back to their pre baby weight as soon as possible after giving birth, and from my experience with clients this time is the most challenging for women as they struggle to come to terms with the change of lifestyle a new baby brings; lack of time and energy being the two key factors in trying to re-establish a fitness routine.
I mentioned in my Pilates and Pregnancy Blog part one that giving birth is like running a marathon, and I really encourage new mums to think this way. You have been in training for months for the event, the event has happened and however it went your body is now in recovery, and needs time to heal itself.
And this is the REALLY important bit- a methodical, slow paced approach to recovering the body through exercise will be much more sustainable and see the best results in the long term. Gentle, focused exercises are the key to getting your body back to optimum condition, feeling good and working well.
So where do you start?
What you can do is begin gentle pelvic floor exercises within 24 hours after giving birth, this will help reduce swelling and speed up the healing process. The NCT has a section on this: http://www.nct.org.uk/pregnancy/pelvic-floor-exercises-during-and-after-pregnancy and I would recommend every woman reads it as I’ve had clients follow these exercises religiously who’ve had a great recovery post birth. These exercises will also prevent problems in later life such as bladder control so worth putting the time in, and it’s something that is easy to do and can be maintained regularly, as often as you care to do it. The other thing you can do to help get back to normal is to eat healthy balanced meals with plenty of fruit and vegetables. If you want to lose weight then by all means cut down on sugary foods but do not go on any sort of diet, your body needs all the nutrients it can get. The NHS website have a section on keeping fit and healthy with a new baby: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/keeping-fit-and-healthy.aspx
Once you have had your post natal check with your GP at around six to eight weeks and they have said that you are safe to exercise, you can begin your Pilates again. If you have had a caesarean you will need longer so listen to your doctors or midwife’s advice, and be sure to follow it. Remember that whatever sort of birth you had, your back and your core will have weakened so take it slowly. Pilates is especially good at this time in your life as it is a precise approach to movement that strengthens your core, back and joints whilst teaching you to be aware at all times of your posture. The deep breathing is especially good at helping tired mums relax and de-stress and is a simple way to start the recovery process. Relaxine will stay in the body until you have finished breastfeeding so be aware that your ligaments and joints will be more supple than usual and take care not to overstretch or twist your body. And finally remember this quote when you’re feeling challenged by your new lifestyle and not sure you can make it to your pilates class.
‘Change happens through movement and movement heals’
Written material copyright of Rachel Lawrence.
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