Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Parts of the Body Should You Exercise After Giving Birth?

If you want the simple answer... all of them!  Each area of the body should be exercised, but all in their own way and for their own reasons.

The upper body is important to strengthen, now that you are going to be carrying around an ever-growing baby as well as their car seat, diaper bag and don't forget your purse!  Also very important to strengthen and correct the posture in the upper back for the hours and hours of breast-feeding or bottle feeding.

The core, well, besides the obvious reasons of toning up the stomach muscles that have been stretched and sometimes separated during pregnancy, this is also the fact that the core supports your entire body and weak stomach muscles are going to lead to poor posture and a sore back.  Each case has to be looked at individually though.  After my first pregnancy, I had split my rectus abdominis muscle, this is called Diastasis Recti.  After my second pregnancy, this split was worse.  The muscles were split from top to bottom and I could stick my entire hand in my stomach.  I also had 2 hernia's to deal with.  I could not do any crunches or any other abdominal that required that same action.  But, through research and years of experience, I found the combination of exercises that worked and my muscles are now side by side again.  they will never re-attach without surgery, but as long as I maintain them, you would never know the difference.  If I had gone to a post-partum class or personal trainer that did not know about my issues, I could have done far more damage and possibly strangulated my hernias.  So, again, the exercises for the core section are determined more by the clients pregnancy, delivery and recovery.

The lower body is extremely important to exercise, not only for aesthetics, but also for weight loss in general.  The larger muscle groups require more energy and therefore burn more calories.  The larger the muscle group worked, the more calories burned during a workout.  The more muscle mass a person develops, the faster their resting metabolic rate... so, they will burn more calories at rest than they would if they did not have toned and healthy muscles.

While breastfeeding, the body is still releasing a lot of the same hormones as it did during pregnancy.  One of the main ones being relaxin.  This hormone is intended, by your body, to relax and open the pubic bone in preparation for birth.  But, the hormone can not zone in on just one area and it affects all joints in pregnant women as well as breastfeeding moms. So, the one thing you do need to be careful of is over-stretching.  Stretching is still important, but you have to make sure not to hold the stretch for too long or push too far.

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