The MUTU System recommends keeping post partum exercise low impact for the first 20 weeks post partum (at least). If you have knee or other joint problems, are very overweight or simply don’t feel comfortable with high impact moves, you may also need to keep your post partum exercise regime low impact.
For many women, this is fine, as they don’t particularly feel like jumping around anyway… (“What was that? Jump up and down and wet myself? Nah. Cup of tea and a sice of cake? Don’t mind if I do”) But I am sometimes asked, ‘Why do I have to keep it low impact? I want to work hard!’
Because ‘low impact’ is often referred to along with ‘gentle’, slow’ or ‘easy’ exercise, some worry they’re not going to get a *proper* workout, burn any serious calories or drop any of the baby weight.
So 2 questions: Can you get a good workout without jumping around? and Why the rule about low impact for post partum exercise anyway?
Well, firstly – yes you can! The key to burning off the baby fat (or any other type of fat for that matter ;)) is to make your body work harder, or more intensively. This doesn’t have to mean higher impact. I posted Post Partum Exercise Video on YouTube recently with some low impact ideas (click the YouTube logo) and here’s some other ideas on how to make your low impact post partum exercise regime kick your baby belly into touch…
Walking is low impact (BTW low impact means one foot is always in contact with the ground, in case you were wondering…) and a gentle stroll is not going to make any significant changes to your body shape or your heart rate. But there are ways of upping the ante:
- walk faster
- use your arms
- walk up hills
- mix up all of the above with interval training
Stand up straight, drop your shoulders down and back, draw your belly button through to your spine (ie hold your tummy in), lift your pelvic floor, don’t hunch over your buggy or stroller but stand in close and walk tall, think about dropping your weight down through the outsides of your heels and lifting the arches of your feet… and don’t just, you know… walk…
WALK! Stride out, speed up and workout!
Take the stairs, 2 at a time. Go hiking and carry a backpack. Mix in some walking lunges. Stop mid-walk for some squats. Use your arms. You get the picture – multitask and make your walk a workout, not just a stroll.
WHY Post Partum Exercise Should Be Low Impact
The recommendation is based partly on the laxity in your joints caused by a build up of the hormone Relaxin in your body throughout pregnancy. Relaxin makes your joints less stable and less able to withstand impact without injury. Your body is simply not ready to be subjected to extreme joint stress at this stage.
Another reason is for the long term health and strength of your pelvic floor. Even if your pelvic floor muscles appear to cope well with high impact moves at this point, too much stress placed on them in the months following childbirth (even if you had a c-section) can cause weakness later on.
Childbirth leaves your pelvic organs somewhat shifted and misplaced, regardless of the type of birth you experienced, and they need time and the corrective restorative exercises (MUTU Core and MUTU Breathe) to put them back together. They need to be allowed to ‘settle’ back into place, at the same time as strengthening the muscles that hold them all secure!
If your body had a baby in the last 6 months, you need to take it a little easy on yourself if you are to avoid injury and pelvic floor problems in the form of stress incontinence or prolapse a few years down the line. That sounds dramatic but honestly if you pound your body too hard before it’s ready after babies, your pelvic floor will not stay the distance and you’re going to be one of those old ladies who smells of wee. Not good.
Until your your core (including your pelvic floor) is completely restored, repaired and thoroughly strengthened, I would recommend you steer clear of high impact or very intensive workouts for at least 20 weeks post partum. As I’ve discussed above -this doesn’t mean you can’t get an effective workout, you’re just not going to jump up and down.
The MUTU System workouts have been designed for moms, which is why you will find NONE of the commonly prescribed moves which will exert inappropriate and excessive intra abdominal pressure or place excessive stress on your joints – Meaning they would worsen a diastasis, weaken your pelvic floor and be counterproductive to your post partum exercise goals.
Do let me know if you have any questions or want to check on any specific moves or exercises you have seen or would like to include in your workouts. I’m more than happy to advise on what may or may not be suitable or safe for various stages of motherhood!