How to Restore Strength for Sport Post-Pregnancy
I have been an athlete my whole life. That is how I define myself. So when I became pregnant, the transformation of my body was difficult to deal with, though incredible to observe. Just like every other expectant mom, I experienced structural changes and discomfort in my own body. It’s crucial to understand these changes to the body so you can rehabilitate the muscles that matter. This is especially true for athletes who want to get back to sports quickly. Compounding any existing muscle imbalances and instabilities with those sustained during pregnancy will often lead to increased weakness and lower back, hip and pelvic pain.
We'll cover basic restoration for day-to-day movements alongside strength rehab for athletic moms.
Muscular Shifts During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the shift in weight distribution and centre of gravity causes pressure to mount on the mother's lower back, hips, and pelvis. This tightens the hip flexors and weakens the gluteals and hamstrings considerably. The imbalance can cause lower back pressure and a lot of pain. The abdominal wall may also separate, creating what is called diastasis recti, and the hormone relaxin is released which loosens all the ligaments in the pelvis. To top it all off, the ligaments of the pelvis, adductors and glutes are all weakened further during the birthing process. It’s a hell of a lot to deal with, and the overall result can be painful – many women have trouble climbing stairs and walking at a brisk pace.
But all is far from lost. I am back to doing the sports I love at a high competitive level, and I want you to get back to what you enjoy, at the level that you desire. The journey back to your former athleticism starts here.
The Road to Recovery
As a new mom, you will have some restrictions. Sit-ups are out, due to diastasis recti. So are single leg movements such as step ups, as the separation of joints in the pelvis make these movements painful, if not impossible. We’re going to begin with some basic movements which work around these restrictions whilst moving your closer to your athletic goals. I’ve put together videos and simple guidelines for all of the exercises.
You’ll gently work the transverse abs, providing a strong corset that will pull in the separated rectus abdominis. You’ll perform gluteal work to balances the pelvis again, which will relieve pressure from the lower back. And you’ll do hip flexor work to engage the weakened adductors.