Discover Ways to Return to Exercise Postpartum Via Physiotherapy
Your body undergoes a major transformation to prepare for the arrival of your baby. It works hard to keep your baby safe and healthy. Upon the arrival of your precious one, your body will start to change again to facilitate the start of postpartum recovery. Similar to your pregnancy days, these changes will cover all areas – physical, emotional, and mental.
The recovery period after labour is never linear, and it will vary from one individual to another. One of the groups of individuals who will have a hard time coping would be those whose exercise has been an integral part of their day-to-day life. Not being able to move the way that you normally do, compounded with the bodily changes that come with postpartum, can take a toll on your mental and emotional psyche. To help ease this difficult process, we will explore how the body changes postpartum and how postnatal physiotherapy can help you safely regain full mobility.
Core Changes During Pregnancy and Postpartum
They say that being a mother changes a person, and they aren’t kidding. Whilst many of the odd changes that come with pregnancy will disappear after birth, a few of them, like your little one, are more likely to stay with you for a very long time. Here are a few areas that will be affected due to pregnancy and labour.
Musculoskeletal System: As the belly expands, the abdominal muscles stretch and the back muscles shorten, which gives way to tension and tightness in the back. The connective tissue in the linea alba thins and separates, giving rise to a condition known as Diastasis Recti. The ligaments and joints in the pelvis become very unstable, and the pelvic floor weakens.
Breathing Mechanics: The diaphragm changes to accommodate the growing belly, resulting in short, shallow chest breaths. In addition, the rib cage also slides backwards out of the way of the pregnancy, effectively affecting one’s breathing mechanics.
Weight: Due to the accumulation of the extra fluid needed for the baby’s circulation, placenta, and amniotic fluid, weight gain is natural. Unfortunately, things don’t simply snap back into place once the baby arrives. Rest is essential for postpartum recovery, you may therefore be less active and that can limit weight management.
Strength: During pregnancy and postnatal recovery, one’s physical activity level will go down. These unused muscles will lead to soreness and an overall decrease in strength.
Postnatal Physiotherapy: The Safest Way to Regain Your Full-Body Function
Your first step to gaining back your mobility isn’t to head to the gym – it’s to allow yourself to gradually strengthen your body and repair your muscles in a safe and effective manner. This is where physiotherapy comes in. Physiotherapy is designed to aid in one’s recovery with simple yet effective exercises, all whilst making sure that you don’t injure yourself in the process. The body is especially vulnerable during this period, so it’s crucial that you have a specialist to safely guide you through your recovery. Since every recovery process is different for each individual, especially when comparing natural birth to caesarean birth, be sure to have a physiotherapy plan tailored to meet your needs.
Here are a few areas in which physiotherapy can help:
Physical therapists are trained to guide you to restore muscle function after the nine-month of pregnancy and childbirth. They will work to retrain the muscles that have become so weakened, overworked, or damaged in the past nine months. Physiotherapy uses targeted muscular strengthening exercises to load the muscle until the point of muscle fatigue. The training of muscles encourages growth, effectively improving your strength.
For proper movement and to perform a spectrum of functions and activities, core stability is required. Unfortunately, during pregnancy, the body is flooded with relaxin makes the muscles much more compliant to lengthening and stretching. When the abdominal muscles become increasingly elongated, they can no longer grip at their optimal length and generate enough tension to stabilise. Core stability physiotherapy involves stimulating active structures (e.g. muscles), passive structures (e.g, lumbar spine), and control by neurological systems. By retraining these areas, it helps to better anchor your centre of gravity, allowing you to maintain constant balance.
Muscle Tone and Joints
Your body is designed to make pregnancy as smooth as possible. With the surge in relaxin, estrogen, and progesterone hormones, your muscles stretch and your joints will have increased mobility to facilitate easier labour. However, this results in ligament laxity, hypermobility, and an overall loss in muscle tone – things that can cause pain, especially in the lower back area, and altered biomechanics. In such cases, a physical therapist will employ exercises to help stimulate the motor nerves that supply the muscles to improve tone and strength. Regular weight-bearing exercises will also help to increase sensation and proprioception, whilst low-impact exercises will help strengthen the joints and make them more stable.
Gain Back Your Mobility with Rapid Physiocare
To ensure a smooth delivery as possible, the body will change in preparation for labour. This often translates to having to relearn the body post-delivery, alongside an equally challenging recovery process, especially when compounded with your new set of responsibilities as a parent. It is highly advisable to seek a specialist’s expertise to ensure that this recovery stage is done in a safe manner, especially if you wish to engage in physical activities in the following months after your labour.
At Rapid Physiocare, your health is our priority. We wish to provide you with ample care and support, giving you a strong foundation for your recovery, allowing you to return to exercise much faster. Our physiotherapy team is trained in postnatal physiotherapy and will work with you to identify and rectify the musculoskeletal changes that are associated with post-pregnancy. With our postnatal care, you can enjoy a safe and speedy return to “normal” so that you can enjoy your experience as a new mum with your precious little one.
Ensure a safe recovery and book an appointment with us today!
Mottola, M. F. (2002). Exercise in the postpartum period: practical applications. Current sports medicine reports, 1(6), 362-368.
Roy, B. (2014). Postpartum Exercise. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 18(6), 3-4