Running & Pregnancy: How to Be Well Balanced

Running & Pregnancy: How to Be Well Balanced

 

pregnancy running

 

Running & pregnancy is a topic near and dear to my heart, as it was the time in my life when I was pregnant with my first child (in 2002!!) that the seeds for what is now Balance Personal Fitness Training were planted.

Once Balance blossomed, Running on Balance came to be. (It lived it’s first iteration as simply “on Balance”– the name change should indicate to you that a) running is important to me, and b) I like puns.)

A few years later, Well Balanced Women came into life. (Again with the puns.)

It’s all quite fitting, actually. Pregnancy and gestation of a human aren’t all that different from building a business.

They both start with knowing absolutely nothing, requiring tremendous faith, and then developing and changing over time.

So I was thrilled when the guys Chris & Steve from Rogue Running— a big-time running coaching outfit here in Austin– invited me to come on their podcast and talk about Running & Pregnancy.

Chis & Steve know running. They coach some of the best runners in the US. They help regular, recreational runners reach serious goals. Most of all, they want each person to know how running can contribute to a happy, healthy, well-balanced life.

And as someone who has run through three pregnancies (to varying degrees) and worked as a perinatal fitness specialist for nearly ten years, I have ideas that are a blend of experience and research to help women keep running while pregnant…and get back to running postpartum, too.

As you’ll hear in the podcast,  I learned (the hard way) that just because one pregnancy and recovery is super simple all of them will be.

This should be good news to those of you who have been through pregnancy and childbirth and are reluctantly contemplating a second….

The possibility of having a more positive experience exists!

I firmly believe (and science supports) the importance of exercise during pregnancy. The benefits for both mom and baby are notable and long-lasting.

As always, each woman’s experience of pregnancy is unique. Listen to your care provider, and listen to your body.

But I hope you’ll find some guidelines and things to look for as you work hard to keep you and your baby fit during pregnancy– and beyond.

Check out the episode HERE!

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Ideas offered on the Running Rogue podcast do not constitute medical advice. Each woman should speak frankly with her health care provider regarding her specific needs during pregnancy. 

The Incontinence Myth

The Incontinence Myth

 

Picture a group of women sitting around a table, drinking wine or coffee, chatting and laughing.  One women gasps and says, “Oops!  I think I just peed myself a bit!”  Her friends chime in, one by one, and say, “Oh, that happens to me, too, when I (choose one) laugh/run/cough/sneeze.”

The Incontinence Myth

While stress incontinence is rather common, it is not normal.  The incontinence myth perpetuates due to ignorance– we believe stress incontinence is an inescapable side effect of pregnancy or menopause.  This just is not true.  It is not simply part of being a woman that we have to deal with and move on.

Not surprisingly, the manufacturers of feminine hygiene products have found a new market thanks to the incontinence myth.  Their products and advertising approach the issue, normalize it, and offer what seems to be a solution.  It is, however, merely addressing the symptom of leaking.  While these products certainly give women a way to hide their incontinence and carry on with their lives, they do nothing to fix the problem.

Unbelievably, there is a whole market of women’s t-shirts, mugs, and greeting cards to capitalize on the incontinence myth. (Don’t believe me?  Check out etsy.) These products want women to buy in to the belief that stress incontinence is normal, permanent, and somehow something we should find funny.  While I applaud the designers of the items for their creativity, I find it a misguided empowerment technique.  Sure, own your problem.  But why would you want to tell the world about it rather than fix it?

Who can help with stress incontinence?

Pelvic physical therapists have special training and are the top choice for severe stress incontinence cases.  Their education about internal anatomy and their access to the best biofeedback tools and devices will laser in on the root cause of your issues.

In severe cases of incontinence, surgery may be required.  A good pelvic physical therapist will do everything to help you avoid surgery.  Your best chances of not requiring surgery– which has fairly low success rates in terms of patient satisfaction– is to do the exercises your pelvic PT sets out for you.

Your body will not heal itself!  To break free of the incontinence myth requires your active and dedicated participation.  I freely admit these exercises are not exciting, and no one but you (and perhaps your partner) will ever notice the results of your work.  But aren’t you worth it?

If your stress incontinence issues are not severe, you might be a good candidate to work with a personal trainer who is highly educated (and certified) to work with women with stress incontinence.  A perinatal personal trainer has the training to know which exercises to avoid, as many common exercises exacerbate stress incontinence.  Moreover, a perinatal personal trainer will develop a modified and progressive workout series to help train your muscles to work together again.

While stress incontinence develops due to pelvic floor pressure and weakened abdominal integrity (as in pregnancy) or decreased pelvic floor tension (due to lowering estrogen in menopause), it does not have to be permanent.  Seek out the help you need to break free of the incontinence myth and live a leak-free life!

 

 

When Can I Start Working Out Again After Giving Birth?

When Can I Start Working Out Again After Giving Birth?

when-can-i-start-working-out-after-giving-birth

After the work of labor and the glorious falling-in-love of the babymoon days—but before the cumulative fatigue of months (and years) of broken sleep erodes the psyche—emerges the question: “When can I start working out after giving birth?”

It seems like a simple question, but everybody and everybody’s body is different. The answer, therefore, requires a little more thought.

So many women, eager to recapture their fitness or physique, do long-term (and sometimes irreparable) damage because of their enthusiasm.  While I admit it isn’t exciting in our Magic Bullet-seeking society, the work required postpartum is deliberate and slow.  It is, however, effective.  For women willing to focus on the basics, they’ll find themselves where they want to be far sooner (and more sustainably) than women who jump right back in to their old routine.

This is definitely a time to remember the tortoise and the hare.

When Can I Start Working Out After Giving Birth?

It is essential that you do not do any exercises that you have not discussed with your care provider.  Asking them, “When can I start working out after giving birth?” opens the topic to clear communication.

Did you have a no- or low-intervention vaginal delivery with no sign of prolapse?  Great!  Simple breath and body exercises can begin almost immediately.  Note, however, that “simple exercises” do not mean things like squats and crunches!

Rather, simple means basic.  But it does not mean unimportant.  Simple exercises focus on coordinating the breath and the body to reconnect neuromuscular communication patterns.

Your first point of attention should go to posture.  So much of your postpartum days are spent with inward curling of the shoulders due to baby holding and feeding.  Finding a supported counterstretch feels fantastic.  More importantly, the opening of the front side of the body creates space for the shifting internal organs.  Think about lying in a supported savasana (corpse pose) for a few minutes a day.

work out after giving birth

Image by Kelsey Tucker/www.describethefauna.com

Aligning the pelvis and spine are critical to regaining core strength.  Bringing your awareness to the low back and pelvis may inspire more rounds of hip circles and cat/cow, just as your body craved in late pregnancy.

If there is one thing to remember, both for the immediate postpartum period and the rest of your life is EXHALE ON EXERTION.  By exhaling whenever you stand, lift, push, or move any force, you decrease intra-abdominal pressure.  Key to maintaining the integrity of the pelvic floor, exhale on exertion should be the battle cry for all postpartum women.

As such, lifting and bending (usually with “load” in the form of baby) must be mindful.  Avoid torqueing the back or knees as you lift and twist, even in a transition as mundane as from the bed to standing.  Break this movement pattern down into multiple parts (roll to your side, swing feet off of bed as you sit up, stand) so that you can breathe intentionally as you move.

Know also that the timing of exercise vis-à-vis feeding schedule may change taste of breastmilk.  I exclusively nursed all three of my kids, but it did take a little extra thought as to the timing of when I would work out.  It was worth the extra effort—for all of us.

If you experience an increase of lochia flow or change from pink/brown to bright red, this is a clear indication that exercise intensity is too high.  Back off!  And inform your care provider for more specific direction.

Over the next few posts, I’ll be walking you through week-by-week the exercises that are safe for the postpartum period.  Sign up for our email delivery to make sure these helpful exercises reach your in-box. ——>

Good health and great happiness to you.