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If you need to justify why Pilates will be helpful after your pregnancy and labour, here you go!



  1. Self love

Mothers tend to prioritize everything and everyone over ourselves. Start loving ourselves again, so that we can ‘fill’ our loved ones’ cups. The family is only as happy as a healthy mama.


  1. Look sexy, feel sexy again!

Being able to reconnect with our bodies makes us confident to do most tasks. Confident women are the sexiest!


2. Improve your core stability, because strong is the new beautiful!


Pilates serves as a strong foundation for your body to work the essential muscles, especially after going through life-changing pregnancy and labour. This will allow us to return to most sports and activities safely as it addresses the necessary muscles needed to support your core stability. Pilates guided exercises allows you to work in all aspects of your core stability in a systematic manner, from breathing, to abs, butt, thighs!


3. Improve your posture, build your confidence.


Pregnancy and effects of labour, breastfeeding and pumping breast milk makes us hunch over a lot more than we know. The effects of pregnancy is no simple feat on the maternal body. Months of stretched abdominals, postural and muscular adaptation from the changes in body mechanics does not naturally resolve on its own. Stretching and strengthening the affected muscles helps us to stand straighter, and look fresher.


4. Get stronger to care for your growing baby


Our babies only get heavier! Mothers can be stronger to carry your babies for longer.


5. Prepare your body for another pregnancy!


Subsequent pregnancies will continue to test the mother’s physical limits. Getting your body in a better position after each pregnancy will help you go through the process better.


6. Recondition your core, arms, back and legs to safely return to exercises you love


Pilates can be delivered in a systematic manner to train your body from head to toes, arms to legs. The progressive training can be tougher than it looks, but your efforts will surely pay off.


7. Continue to lead an active lifestyle as we enter motherhood and be role models to our kids


Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother. When we have the ability to engage in physical activities and enjoy them, our kids will be able to do that for themselves when they get older. The best gift we can give to our kids, is a healthy and happy mother.


8. To be physically and mentally strong to fulfill our roles as mums, wives, daughters, caregivers


Pilates and being physically active has benefits to our mental health, not the mention the physical benefits on our bodies. As we play our social roles in our family units, the multiple roles we carry are demanding of our mental and physical capacity.

A study (1) has shown that Pilates home exercises are an effective, healthy and feasible method for reducing post-partum fatigue. The reduced fatigue can reduce the risk of depression in post-partum women.


9. Add Life to your years, not just years to your life!


As we live longer, we want to continue to move well and do the things we love. Having a better body also puts you at a better start to menopause well!




Our Registered Physiotherapist is also fully trained in Pilates. A full assessment and history taking is done with every new mother, to address your needs and goals. Speak to our Physiotherapist to learn how you can get stronger with your post-baby body! You may also find the article helpful: https://www.mummyphysiosg.com/post/core-stability-after-pregnancy-part-iii-the-best-exercise-program-to-a-strong-start




Reference:

(1) Effects of Pilates exercises on postpartum maternal fatigue (2015) Singapore Med J. 56(3), pp. 169-173. Ashrafinah F., Mirmohammadali M., Kazemnejad A., Haghighi K.S. & Amelvalizadeh M.

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Running has been a mainstay in my life since my teenage years. From 2.4km to Cross-Country 3.5km trail runs, I was inspired by my eldest sister to take part in 21km and 42km marathons Since 17years old. Running was an instinctive sport for me once I started working, since it’s a solo event that I didn’t need another partner to complete the activity with.

During the second trimester of my first pregnancy, I continued to hit the gym for simple workouts using the stationary bike, rowing machine and treadmill for brisk walking and light jog. Hence going back to my running routines were a no-brainer for me, since I have been running all my life, right?

However, after the birth of my first child, I was taken aback by the physical changes that nobody, nobody at all, told me about. My posture, abdomen, hips and pelvic floor strength absolutely changed. I tried going back to running after 6weeks post-partum, and immediately felt the difference in the control of my pelvic floor strength, and the difficulty engaging my core to run fast enough.



Pregnancy and Labour is no chicken-feat

Our bodies goes through tremendous adaptations throughout pregnancy and labour. For a person who has a simple knee surgery, a minimum of 3-6 months of rehab is warranted before returning to sport. For mothers, how should we expect our bodies to spring back to youthful days in a snap of a finger? The struggles of all runners: We just tend to put on our shoes and run, without conditioning our bodies to do so.


For mums who are keen to start running again, here are some essential muscle groups that are important to train before going back to running:

The Quadriceps

The muscles in the front of our thighs are the largest contributor to braking and supporting our body weight during running.

Hamstring

Upon contact with the ground, the muscles at the back of our thighs need powerful contraction to push us forwards.


Calves

These muscles that support the ankle appears to be important for propulsion and supporting the body weight during running.



Hips, groin and buttocks

(Gluteus maximus and medius, inner thighs, pelvic floor muscles)

These muscle groups around our pelvis work the hardest after the foot hits the ground, to stabilize our trunk and knees

The pelvic floor muscles, that forms the base of the pelvis, holds the rest of the organs up. After the labour and pregnancy, our pelvic floor muscles often need some work before returning to impact sports such as running.


Arms and Trunk

Arms did not contribute to propulsion or support, but the momentum of the arms counterbalanced the momentum of the legs via the trunk of the body. This means the stability of the trunk (ribs and abdominals) has to be strong, for more efficient force transfer between arms and legs.




When do I know if I am not ready for a run?

If you have any forms of incontinence (urine or bowel leaking), heaviness feeling in the vagina with impact activities, have an assessment by a pelvic floor physiotherapist before starting your exercises.

Having a bulging abdomen months after your baby is born is also not normal, and we recommend you to have yourself checked for Diastasis Recti of the Abdominal by our physiotherapist. The presence of any joint pain- commonly reported joints such as knee pain, pelvis or lower back pain, needs to be resolved prior to returning to running. Our physiotherapist will be able to assist you back to running, or refer you to a pelvic floor physiotherapist if necessary.



A pre-run exercise period is essential to prepare your post-partum body to get to a baseline of core stability, so that you will minimise any possible injury due to muscular-skeletal changes after having a baby.

Before you hit the roads, be sure your body is ready for the run! Read our 3-Part series of Core Stability after Pregnancy to know how you can prepare yourself for running!





Love, MummyPhysioSG



Reference:

Samuel R. Hammer, Ajay Seth and Scott L. Delp

Muscle contributions to propulsion and support during running

Journal Biomech 2010 vol. 43(14), pp. 2709-2716


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The best exercise program after labour and pregnancy, in my opinion, is none other than Pilates.


Why Pilates?

Pilates has 6 principles that guide us to the basics of good movements. In my journey of teaching and learning Pilates, I have gained insights of delivering the desired outcomes to my clients’ movements. We worked through the 'blind spots' in their bodies, and used the muscles that have been forgotten, or maladapted throughout pregnancy and the process of baby-care and breastfeeding. Re-gaining control and awareness of their bodies has given these women a head-start in their quest for a healthier and fitter lifestyle. As they say: “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother’.

The 6 Principles of Pilates are:

  1. Breath

  2. Axial Elongation and core control

  3. Spine articulation

  4. Organization of the head, neck, shoulders

  5. Alignment and weight bearing of extremities

  6. Movement integration


1. Breath


“The Breath is the first act of life and the last” “Above all else, Learn to breathe correctly” – Joseph Pilates.


Have you ever stopped to feel how you are breathing? When was the last time you took a liberating deep breath?

Which parts of your body are involved when you take a deep, or shallow breath? Do you find yourself stopping in your breath when you move or in deep concentration?

As mentioned in Part 2 of this series, the Diaphragm is an essential muscle involved in core stability. Because of the location of the muscle, it is often forgotten, and not used well. A good inhalation brings in a fresh supply of oxygen to our muscles, brain and heart, why not?


2. Axial Elongation & Core Control


Good posture can be successfully acquired only when the entire mechanism of the body is under perfect control. Graceful carriage follows as a matter of course.” – Joseph Pilates


As every mother knows, our feels and looks different after pregnancy and labour. Unlike what social media portrays, many mothers do not return to what they feel, much less what they look like, after they had their baby. The muscles that adapt through pregnancy, do not naturally return to their original state after the baby is born.


As the main caregiver, we get many musculoskeletal pains such as Mummy’s wrist/hand, lower and mid back pain, and incontinence. Axial elongation and core control puts the person in the most ideal posture she can be, to increase efficiency of movement.


3: Spine Articulation

“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young” – Joseph Pilates


A flexible spine is able to distribute the forces more evenly throughout our body when we move.

4: Organization of the Head, Neck, and Shoulders


How does the positioning of our head, neck and shoulders look before and after pregnancy?

Why does this matter?


Our head, neck and shoulders influences our awareness of the world. It is where we access to our senses; vision, hearing and touch. Having good alignment of our upper half of the body can portray our confidence, or when we slouch, make us feel and look less confident.

5: Alignment & Weight Bearing of the Extremities


“Ideal alignment involves all body parts approximating toward the central axis, as much as structure permits.” – Eric Franklin


Our torso is the axis of the body, where the arms and legs executes what we desire to do. Our brain receives sensory input via our exploration of the world, through the hands and feet. We are able to explore the environment freely, if our senses make us feel safe, exactly as how our babies explore the world.

6: Movement Integration

How does our body integrate movements of each body part during a desired task, such as lifting a baby?

It takes complex planning of our brain to instruct our skeletal structure to perform a task, and as yogi Vanda Scaravelli puts it, ”Movement is the song of the body”.

A Strong Foundation to a Strong Core

Regardless of the sport you wish to return to, Pilates serves a safe and sensible baseline of exercises for you to build a strong foundation to your activity.

The timeline of starting exercise will differ between a natural vaginal delivery, or a Caesarean section delivery.


The sequence of pregnancy also means a new routine needs to be established with every new family member in the house. The best time to start exercising is when you feel ready to do so. Consult your doctor or our dedicated physiotherapist prior to starting an exercise program, to check your readiness for exercise.


Dance with your bodies today, mamas.


Love, MummyPhysioSG

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