Parent Fit – Part Three

Is it possible to stay healthy when your world is turned upside down?

When children arrive, all your health goals go out of the window right…? This week: How to get rid of those aches, pains and get your body back

In this series we’ve been looking into ideas that actually support a healthy lifestyle when children arrive (or any other life situation that turns your world upside down).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: You may find this hard to believe, but I’m not actually a midwife J . Please do not take these ideas as prescriptions, see your health professional before you do anything.

This week I want to talk about strength

Working on strength is often misunderstood. Many think it means getting massive muscles and looking like Arnold Shwarzenegger. This misunderstanding often puts people off what is one of the most important aspects of health.

Why is strength so important?

In essence, strength allows you to lift, move, and carry yourself and external objects without hurting yourself. It can prevent injuries; it can also help you recover from them. It is so important that scientists actually use strength as one of the main indicators of longevity (how long you’re going to live). The great thing is you don’t always need expensive equipment to improve your strength.

What will help new parents?

What the female body goes through to deliver a child is unbelievable. It is literally trauma to the body. Tissues can be torn, stretched, pulled, all kinds of things! The big exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull ups etc. are extremely effective at strengthening the body, and I would advise those once you feel ready (always clear it with your health professional first, but you’ll start to know when you feel ready).

In the initial stages however, there are a few exercises that will strengthen up key areas of your body, helping reduce pain, make daily tasks easier and reduce the chance of injury in the future. And men, don’t think this will only benefit the girls. What use are you to the cause if you’re a physical wreck!

1) Prone Cobra

A1

Ever felt your back start to ache or your shoulders have caved in after holding your child for a while? This exercise is a lovely stretch for your chest, shoulders and develops strength and endurance in your back.

* Squeeze bum muscles together and raise shoulders off the ground by squeezing your shoulder blades together, keeping the chin tucked in

* Hold this position for 10 seconds, relax by lying face down. Rest for 10seconds then repeat 5 more times (or until you cannot keep correct technique)

2) Hip raises

A2 A3

This movement strengthens the crucial posterior chain muscles (back of legs, buttocks & back) that support your body. Start by squeezing your buttocks, flatten your lower back into the floor and raise your hips as high as you can. Slowly lower to the floor, aiming to complete 10reps. Rest and try 2 more sets.

3) All 4’s superman’s

A4 A5

Not only will this provide essential strengthening to those tummy muscles that often decide to pack it in after childbirth, but this will really challenge your balance

* Assume the all 4’s position

* Draw belly button in and raise one arm off the ground at a 45° angle with your thumb pointing upwards until it is at the same level as your body.

* Then extend the opposite leg out and back until it is level with the body.

* Try not to move over onto your supporting hip/shoulder or change the curvature of your back, again imagine that tray containing glasses of water is on your back and you don’t want to cause any spillage!

* Hold this position for ten seconds then lift the other leg and arm. Aim for 10 repetitions on each arm-leg, but only if your technique stays good, as soon as you lose good form stop!

1) Intro – mindset

2) Movement

3) Strength

4) Pain relief

5) Nutrition

6) Sleep/rest

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