Regardless of if you are a new or a seasoned mum, alignment is such an important factor in your health and well-being. When you carry a child for 9 months the core and pelvis go through significant changes and they don’t necessarily spring back to the way they were, especially if you are breast feeding. Poor alignment and posture can lead to a variety issues including back pain, pelvic pain, urinary incontinence/leaking, hip and knee pain and neck ache. So my advice to you is CHECK YOUR ALIGNMENT!!
What is good alignment?
The BEST alignment to provide strength and support to your body and its systems is ribs over hips. This means don’t round your shoulders, don’t stick out your chest and don’t stick out or tuck under your bum.
Take a picture of yourself in tight clothes or underwear to see how you compare. Look out for the pointers above to see if you need to work on your alignment.
ROUNDING YOUR SHOULDERS
When you are breastfeeding you tend to be in a constant rounded shoulder position. If your baby is anything like my daughter Eden, they feed every 2 hours and you could be in that position for 30 mins or longer. That is a long time out of your day. The best thing to do is make sure you are seated and supported as best you can be to prevent a slumped/rounded position. If you already notice you tend to round your shoulders you can make some adjustments to help bring them back to an optimal position. Start off with some chest stretches like a standing wall stretch or a seated chest stretch. Strengthen your upper back with a resistance band. You can so back rows and back fly with a band or with dumbbells if you have them.
STICKING OUT YOUR BUTT OR CHEST
After carrying a baby for nine long months your abdominal muscles weaken and can cause your lower back and hip flexors to tighten causing your body to compensate for this adjustment. In doing so you tend to sick out your butt, drop your hips down and lift your chest. This puts a lot of pressure on your back and pelvic floor. To help realign you will need to stretch out your hip flexors with a kneeling lunge stretch, foam roll your hip flexors (or use a tennis ball to release some pressure). Strengthen your glutes using a glute bridge so you don’t activate your hip flexors too much.
TUCKING YOUR BUTT
I see a lot of this at the gym when I see people at the top of their squats. Over activating the glutes and forcing a squeeze at the top. There is also a lot of bum tucking when we carry our children on the front of our body. When we push our hips forward we create tension in our pelvis and pelvic floor causing the muscles to tighten. Pay attention when exercising and carrying your child not to do this and focus on keeping your hips in a neutral position (under the ribs). Strengthen your lower back with superman or baby cobra and stretch out your glutes with a pretzel stretch (or figure 4 stretch).
RECONNECTING WITH YOUR CORE.
To reconnect with your core and alignment it takes practice and constant reminders, along with learning how to breathe properly and deep into your pelvis. Check in your alignment throughout the day and take a new picture every two weeks.
To breath efficiently follow these steps;
· Sit on a chair and pull the flesh from under you so you feel your sit bones directly under you.
· Make sure you are in good alignment with your ribcage directly on top of your hips.
· Place one hand on your belly and the other on your ribs.
· On your inhale breath, breathe into your ribs, belly and pelvis. Imagine your rib cage inflating, your hip bones getting wider apart and your pelvic floor softening.
· As you exhale, feel your belly move in and your belly button rising up towards your ribs. Feel as you scoop up your pelvic floor, tighten your abdominal muscles and blow the air out through pursed lips.
Learning how to effectively breathe is the first step to connect with your core and ensure proper alignment is kept. Remember postpartum fitness is NOT a race. Slow and steady will ensure lasting positive results.
If you need help staying in check, follow me on instagram and tag me in your pictures @fitandeats or #fitandeats
Enjoy fellow mamas, stay healthy!