How to Prevent Diastasis Recti

So I have had a lot of questions after my previous post on Diastasis Recti on how to prevent it. Well the short answer is, you can’t really prevent it. Now I can’t find much research on this but I would think that having tight abdominals, having a large baby, gaining a lot of weight, and how you are carrying your baby (to the front or side, etc) would all attribute to how likely you are to develop it.

BUT… even if you have a diastasis, you can still prevent it from getting worse!! There are many things you can do to prevent your abs from continuing to separate. First off get some proper support, I recently discovered the ‘Belly Sports Bra’ from Bao Bei Maternity. You can buy one here. Also using the Kinesiotaping technique I describe in my previous post here helps great deal both before and after pregnancy! Even if you find it does get worse, don’t stress, this can be helped after the birth with specific exercises that target your Transverse Abdominis (TA) like the ones I mentioned in some of my other posts.

What makes the biggest difference is monitoring and modifying your EVERYDAY activities. Even if you don’t workout you can still be making this worse just going through your normal routine! The worst culprit is getting out of bed. Most people have the abdominal strength to simply sit up and get out of bed like you normally would, this puts a HUGE amount of pressure on that midline essentially tearing your abs apart slightly more each time (not a pretty picture right!). Some things you can do to help this include log rolling when you get out of bed. A log roll is kind of how it sounds, you want to roll on your side, hang your legs off the bed, and use your arms and upper body to assist with getting up. I also got a very handy bedrail. Yes, the same ones I prescribe for my elderly patients, but I LOVE it and still use it today. It especially helps for when you are super pregnant and can’t roll over. You can get them on Amazon here. You also want to avoid any heavy lifting or holding  heavy items overhead. This can put outward pressure on your abdomen if you don’t have the proper strength and support  in place. Also, check out my video on neutral spine. By engaging your TA muscles in a neutral spine position while doing all your daily activities, yes this includes cooking and getting dressed,  you will help protect that abdomen and keep those muscles together where they should be ! Find a therapist near you to help with this if you are having trouble. If you learn how to activate the right muscles while you are still pregnant it not only helps with labor but will put you in a great position for recovery afterwards!

diastasis recti

As I mentioned before some exercises to avoid include
– crunches
– planks
– V sits
– leg lifts
-Bicycles
– Yoga poses like up-dog, cow pose, and triangle pose.

If you have any questions feel free to comment below. 🙂

Hope this helps!!

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The Benefit of Group Classes

 

Check out my little babe watching us today! I am so glad that I can bring her with me to workout, makes it SOOO much better! crossfit baby How many times do you go into a gym thinking, I just CAN’T do this today. Today was one of those days, I was still a little sore from my workout on Saturday so as I walked into the Crossfit gym and saw the WOD (workout of the day) on the board and I nearly walked out. Now let me tell you, even before pregnancy I was never much of a runner, actually, I hate running. I don’t mind doing power intervals but just normal outdoor running is not my favorite. And today I went to the ‘intense’ class where my Swolemate (haha, that word makes me laugh) and I were the only women in a class of very fit men. Anyways, so today the WOD was

1 mile run
50 wall balls (14 lbs)
800 m run
50 KB swings (30 lbs)
400 m run
50 Double unders
200 m run
50 squats

FOR TIME – 30 minute cap.

Now, as I started my run everyone else immediately took off and left me to run by myself (which I was totally okay with!), and I started off my usual way, thinking “ahhh…I should just walk it…I just had a baby…I haven’t run in over a year…etc, etc, etc”, then something clicked. I thought to myself….”you can do this, its only a mile…you’ve done this before, just one foot in front of the other”. As I kept repeating this mantra to myself I found that I was already halfway around the block, I focused on my breathing and in an almost trance like state made it back to the gym..1 mile down! I ran that mile in 9:12 and then went on to complete the workout in 25:56, which I thought was pretty darn impressive. Because I am still getting back into it, I modified it to suit my current level in terms of scaling down the weight, but overall I feel like I KILLED this workout. Today was the first day where i felt much more like myself, I am no longer the postpartum mama who can’t even lift a 35 pound bar, but rather the fit, athletic mom who can (almost) keep up with the boys!!

This is the reason that I love going to Crossfit. Many people ask me why I pay to attend classes when I am a trainer myself, I have equipment and places to workout, why would I bother to pay someone else to train me? Everyone, regardless of how much you know or how good a trainer you are, needs some external support and motivation to succeed. If I had gone out for a run by myself I would of NEVER pushed to run that much! But it is human nature that when you are around other people you want to do your best, look your best, and overall just be a better person. Well I shouldn’t say everyone is like that, haha, but you know what I mean. Attending group sessions or having someone else train me allows me to push myself just a little outside my comfort zone, it is in this small little space that you get remarkable results. Lastly, this develops a huge sense of accountability. If I say that I am going to workout I will be there, regardless of what else is going on in my life, because I don’t want to let someone else down. I know that my workout partner or coach would be disappointed if I didn’t make it, and therefore I probably workout 25% more than I would of if no one cared if I showed up or not. Think about this next time you contemplate spending money on your fitness and well being, it’s worth every penny!!

Cheers,
Natasha

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Stroller Walk

Today I took the baby and the pup out for a nice walk. My muscles were pretty burnt out so I know if I did another strength workout it might be too much. Walking is the perfect exercise for the day after a tough workout, it helps stretch tight muscles, clear the lactic acid out of your system (that is what causes muscle soreness) and helps prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), you know that feeling when you wake up two days after your workout and can’t move? Yeah…that’s DOMS. Along with all the other health benefits of cardio exercise I really just like to walk to explore our city.Santa Barbara I moved to Santa Barbara two years ago, and I have to say I haven’t really been taking advantage of just how great it is here! When I first moved I was slightly reluctant and didn’t think I would ever feel at home. Now that I have made some friends, got used to a new gym, know people around town, it’s really feeling more like home everyday! I’ve decided that since the baby loves the stroller and our dog is getting bigger so he needs his walk everyday we are going to try to venture out and try new places instead of just around the neighborhood! Today we hit up Shoreline park. This is the perfect place to workout by the way, lush green grass, amazing views, stairs and a jungle gym… What more do you need?! We did an hour power walk, I took the stroller instead of my tula this time, and made sure we stopped occasionally to take in the breathtaking scenery. When we got home we all crashed, dog included, for a nice afternoon nap. It was really nice to have an hour of uninterrupted time, yes I had the dog and baby in tow but they were quiet, I silenced my phone and just took it all in.

I feel this is when I get my best thinking done, I can really refocus on what I want to do with the rest of my day, week, year and feel less like a chicken running around with their head cut off. I have a tendency to always take on a little too much, I’ve gotten used to having multiple jobs at the same time as going to school and having an active social life. Now that I’m a mom I have to fight that urge to want to do it all. I can’t say yes to every social event we are invited to and I can no longer take on that 3rd job because ‘they really needed me!’ I count being a mom job #1 by the way, I’ve never had a job with so much responsibility! I find it’s when I take the time to really dial in on what makes me happy. When I focus on doing my best at that I end up feeling more fulfilled than ever. I read a great quote today, I’ll share it below! So now, where should we walk next?! I’m thinking its time to go hiking again…maybe bring my husband along this time!

clinton kelly quote Click for Source

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Should I workout while sick?

Exercise and the Common Cold

So I don’t know about everyone else, but I have found that since giving birth to my daughter I have had way more colds than usual! It must be the combination of less sleep and increased stress taking a toll on my immune system. The good thing is since I am nursing I pass those immunities onto our little one, so I’m the only one that has to suffer through these awful sicknesses! This is the second cold I have gotten, nothing crazy but still enough to make me feel crappy. It probably doesn’t help that we are going through a 4-month sleep regression so I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a while. I find it kind of crazy because before all this I had a bulletproof immune system. Thanks to working in healthcare I haven’t even had a sniffle in 3 years, even made it through a whole pregnancy without getting sick! Today I felt like being a smarty pants and doing some research, so just a heads up…this post is packed full of it! I know this can be boring for some but I am a closet nerd and this does slightly excite me.

The big question is

Should I still exercise with a cold?!

Out of courtesy to others at the gym I probably would find somewhere else to workout for a few days, nobody likes the guy beside them sniffling up a storm, but contrary to popular belief, exercise (in moderation) is actually good for you and won’t make your sickness worse, and hey, it may even make it better! There has been lots of research on how exercise prevents sickness, but not very much on its effect on the body once you’re already sick. The general consensus seems to be that if you have a cold (runny nose, headache) and not the flu (vomiting, fever) it is safe to participate in moderate exercise (walk, light jog, etc.), although heavy exercise isn’t recommended (and I feel like that would be pretty tough anyways). By the way I look at it any sort of activity is better than sitting around the house feeling sorry for yourself! You can read more about that study here. A recent review of the literature shows that the relationship between exercise and preventing colds works on a J shaped curve (see below), this means that moderate exercise is the best for preventing illness and decreasing the stress response in your body, but high intensity exercise can actually have a negative effect (so maybe all that Crossfit lately has been working against me a little).  If you would like to read more about this click here. Ultimately, working out 4-5 days a week at a moderate intensity level will help you to be the healthiest you can be!
J shaped immunity exercise and colds
As I sit here and contemplate if I should go to Crossfit tomorrow I came across a study by Rakel et. al (2013) that looked at the association between moderate exercise and mindfulness meditation and their effect on acute respiratory infection (common cold). They measured this based on how much money was spent on medications, doctor visits and missed days of work during the duration of the cold and flu season. They found that those who participated in mindfulness meditation vs those in the control group had the greatest cost benefit, and those who exercised also had a cost benefit, although lesser. This suggests that those participants missed less days of work and spent less money on medications and doctors visits, which implies fewer or less severe illnesses. Now this study is preliminary so there’s still work to be done on the subject but I think those results seem pretty promising! It is pretty much saying that even just thinking about being well can make you healthier? I’ll take it!
If you aren’t familiar with mindfulness meditation it is incredibility hard to describe, everyone who studies this sees it a little different based on their own background and beliefs. I did a big research paper in school on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), so this is why this study popped out at me as interesting. Basically mindfulness is a state of mind and a way of being. If you consciously make yourself more aware of how you feel and use this concept to guide your meditations it can ultimately lead to stress reduction, which can lead to less chance of getting sick! To explain this concept here is something I would say to a client to guide them through a mindfulness session for pain reduction. (I’m totally just making this up on the fly so bear with me here..)
I will ask you to close your eyes, breathe deeply, inhale and exhale, listen to your heartbeat, feel the blood pulsing through your veins, feel the slight tickle of hair on the back of your neck and warm sun on your face. Now focus on that nagging pain in your lower back. Visualize that pain dissipating, dissolving away, your muscles getting softer, your shoulders getting heavier, your breaths getting deeper, feeling more and more relaxed with each exhale, feel the pain leaving your body with each breath… Get the idea??

Here is an article regarding the healing power of mindfulness…
Here you can learn more about mindfulness meditation…

Okay, after totally veering off topic I think I came to my conclusion. Right now I am going to lie in bed and think about feeling better (mindfulness meditation)! Tomorrow will be day 5 of this annoying cold, so I will go on a nice walk (moderate exercise) as I have been doing all weekend and hopefully be back to normal by Tuesday! Power of positive thinking right? The most important thing while your sick…KEEP UP THOSE FLUIDS. Since I am nursing I am doing my best to drink tons of water to avoid dehydration, which drastically affects my milk supply (I learned from experience). Here’s hoping that I don’t get sick again this winter! One last thing, don’t forget that most cold medications aren’t recommended if your breastfeeding, so unfortunately like me you just have to tough it out. Bah.

As always, please consult your doctor before partaking in any physical activity. Each person is different and my recommendations are solely my own opinion and not medical advice.

References

Nieman DC. Exercise, upper respiratory tract infection, and the immune system. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1994 Feb;26(2):128-39. Review.

Rakel, D., Mundt, M., Ewers, T., Fortney, L., Zgierska, A., Gassman, M., & Barrett, B. (2013). Value associated with mindfulness meditation and moderate exercise intervention in acute respiratory infection: The MEPARI Study. Family Practice, 30(4), 390–397. doi:10.1093/fampra/cmt008

Weidner TG1, Cranston T, Schurr T, Kaminsky LA. “The effect of exercise training on the severity and duration of a viral upper respiratory illness” Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Nov;30(11):1578-83.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/25/health/nutrition/25best.html?_r=0

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Working exercise into your day

I just wanted to touch on how challenging it can be to work exercise into your everyday routine with a baby. When I first started back at the gym I found that working out was an all day event. By the time I timed our feedings right, got myself dressed, got her dressed, loaded her into the car, brought her to the gym and got my runners on I was exhausted. But after a couple weeks it got easier and easier. I started back at Crossfit about 4 weeks after she was born, after being cleared by my doctor to return to exercise.  I went to an easy class and was able to modify a lot of the exercises to suit my current level. Since my daughter was so young when I started taking her  I feel like she never really knew any different. She now comes with me 4x a week and enjoys watching everyone workout! (Well I don’t really know if she enjoys it, but she definitely seems happy!) Working out with friends is a great way to develop accountability (I barely miss a workout), to get out of the house (otherwise I would barely leave), and interact with adults other than my husband! Having a baby can be isolating and exercise and support from others is one of the first thing I recommend to combat postpartum depression. Whether you start with a simple walk with a friend or lunges around the house while holding the baby, every little bit counts. If you get into the routine of incorporating exercise into your day from the start it will make it easier as your baby gets older! Check out my little one at 5 weeks old dressed to impress at Crossfit.

In fitness and good health,

Natasha

workout baby, crossfit baby, infant, postpartum exercise

 

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