Postpartum Return to Exercise: Your Very First Workout


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Reintroducing exercise after having a baby can be confusing and scary. You’re wondering what’s safe and how it will make you feel. You may feel like your core strength has been weakened but you’ve also heard that traditional ab exercises may exacerbate diastasis recti or the separation of the abdominal muscles. You may have c-section or pelvic floor concerns. We have a very simple workout that will be appropriate for almost everyone for your first session back at the gym.

Start at the Beginning

You wouldn’t try to run a marathon without going through a training plan. In the same way, you shouldn’t just jump back into your pre-pregnancy exercise routine without building back up to it.

As frustrating as it is, your body has undergone a massive, life-changing event and you need to heal and restrengthen slow. You have nothing but time ahead of you, and there is no reason to rush the process. Start with simple movements before getting fancy. The Russian Twists and Bulgarian Splits Squats will always be there for you later.

Connect with your Core and Pelvic Floor

When you begin exercising postpartum, we recommend doing a minute of diaphragmatic breathing at the start of each session. Being tuned in to how your breath, core musculature and pelvic floor are connected will help you manage the additional abdominal pressure that exercise brings. This will set you up well for high level fitness endeavors in the future.

Let your Symptoms be your Guide

We strongly recommend visiting a pelvic floor physical therapist at 6-8 weeks postpartum; but we acknowledge that access is not financially or logistically feasible for every woman. A pelvic floor PT can evaluate you for diastasis recti and give you more information on the strength and function of your pelvic floor. Be on the look out for warning signs that you may not be quite ready to jump back into a gym routine. If you feel any of the following during or after exercise, please consult a pelvic floor physical therapist or your OB/GYN:

  • Pelvic Girdle Pain

  • Urinary Incontinence

  • Pelvic heaviness

  • Severe low back or groin pain

  • Increased vaginal bleeding

The Workout


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BridgeStarting on your back, exhale and press your feet into the floor and lift the hips into the air. Be mindful to not tuck the pelvis in either direction. Inhale and bring the hips down to repeat.

Bridge

Starting on your back, exhale and press your feet into the floor and lift the hips into the air. Be mindful to not tuck the pelvis in either direction. Inhale and bring the hips down to repeat.


ClamsIn the side-lying position, stack your legs and bend your knees so that your heels line up with your rear end. Keeping the heels together, open the knee like a clam shell opening. Lower the knee to its original position.

Clams

In the side-lying position, stack your legs and bend your knees so that your heels line up with your rear end. Keeping the heels together, open the knee like a clam shell opening. Lower the knee to its original position.


Bird DogStarting on all fours, exhale and lift one arm and the opposite leg. Hold the limbs in the air for the duration of the exhale. Inhale and bring arms and legs back to the starting position. Repeat other side. Try to maintain neutral spinal al…

Bird Dog

Starting on all fours, exhale and lift one arm and the opposite leg. Hold the limbs in the air for the duration of the exhale. Inhale and bring arms and legs back to the starting position. Repeat other side. Try to maintain neutral spinal alignment and stability through the core. You shouldn’t overarch your low back.


SquatInhale and lower yourself into a squat position. Exhale and use your lower body to press yourself back to a standing position.

Squat

Inhale and lower yourself into a squat position. Exhale and use your lower body to press yourself back to a standing position.


FlySit on a box, bench or swiss ball. Take a weighted cable machine or resistance band shut into a door. With a soft bend in the elbow and the cable in one hand, open the arms at shoulder height and gentle bring them forward in a hugging motion with…

Fly

Sit on a box, bench or swiss ball. Take a weighted cable machine or resistance band shut into a door. With a soft bend in the elbow and the cable in one hand, open the arms at shoulder height and gentle bring them forward in a hugging motion with an exhale.


Diaphragmatic BreathWith a band around your rib cage, inhale into your belly and let your ribs expand gently pressing into the band. As you inhale, allow the pelvic floor to soften and descend. As you exhale, try to feel the pelvic floor lift gently…

Diaphragmatic Breath

With a band around your rib cage, inhale into your belly and let your ribs expand gently pressing into the band. As you inhale, allow the pelvic floor to soften and descend. As you exhale, try to feel the pelvic floor lift gently back to its original position.


MarchingWith one hand on each hip bone, exhale and lift one bent leg into the air. Feel for the weight shifting through the pelvis and aim to use your core muscles to create stability. Bring the leg down and repeat the other side.

Marching

With one hand on each hip bone, exhale and lift one bent leg into the air. Feel for the weight shifting through the pelvis and aim to use your core muscles to create stability. Bring the leg down and repeat the other side.


Hip HingeThe hip hinge is maximal hip bend and minimal knee bend. With soft knees and a straight spine, hinge at the hips and reach your rear end behind you. You should end with your hips behind your knees and a nice flat back. Exhale and return to …

Hip Hinge

The hip hinge is maximal hip bend and minimal knee bend. With soft knees and a straight spine, hinge at the hips and reach your rear end behind you. You should end with your hips behind your knees and a nice flat back. Exhale and return to standing.


RowSitting on a box, bench or swiss ball, face a cable machine or resistance band shut into a door. Exhale and pull the cable back, letting the elbow stop just by the rib cage.

Row

Sitting on a box, bench or swiss ball, face a cable machine or resistance band shut into a door. Exhale and pull the cable back, letting the elbow stop just by the rib cage.


LungeStep backwards into a lunge. Keep your ribs stacked over your pelvis. This will result in a slight forward lean. Both legs should bend to 90 degrees. Exhale and return to standing.

Lunge

Step backwards into a lunge. Keep your ribs stacked over your pelvis. This will result in a slight forward lean. Both legs should bend to 90 degrees. Exhale and return to standing.


Pull ApartTake a light resistance band with an overhand grip. With mostly straight arms, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the band apart. Try to pull with your upper back and keep the chest tall.

Pull Apart

Take a light resistance band with an overhand grip. With mostly straight arms, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the band apart. Try to pull with your upper back and keep the chest tall.

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    Sarah Matias

    Why did you become a pre/ postnatal exercise specialist?

    After working in a physical therapy clinic I very quickly became aware of how underserved the pre/
    postnatal community was. Women who were trying to conceive, pregnant, and postpartum were
    seeking out help and guidance in navigating their motherhood journey. The healthcare professionals
    did not have the time or resources to be able to provide them the one-on-one attention they needed.
    Being able to empower women and help support them through their journey is something that I could
    only have dreamed of. The Lotus Method has allowed me to help women not feel alone through this
    challenging time in their lives, and I love being able to continue supporting them!

    What inspires you the most about our clientele of
    badass women?

    Their priority to take care of themselves! Our clients run the world, from stay at home moms to CEO’s
    these women’s schedules are packed! Yet they still prioritize taking the time to invest in themselves.
    Literally running from a meeting straight into an exercise circuit is not uncommon for our mom’s. They
    carve out an hour to focus on their strength, their mental health, and their happiness!

    If you had to listen to one song on repeat for the
    rest of your days – what would it be?

    How can I just choose one! River by Leon Bridges or Ritual Union by Little Dragon.