Post-pregnancy Posture

Post Pregnancy PostureOne of the first things I noticed about my weekly pregnancy photos, besides my expanding waistline, was the slouch that was developing as I got larger. It makes sense; during pregnancy, our bodies begin to take on an “S” shape as we balance the additional weight in our abdomens while our pelvis begins to tilt. For most women, our postures before pregnancy are moderate at best. Afterwards, you may be feeling like Quasimodo. Factor in the additional lifting, carrying, and nursing positions post-pregnancy, and your hunch may feel like it is here to stay. Luckily, there are some easy things you can do to regain your pre-pregnancy posture.

Build your Core Strength

Your ab muscles, the rectus abdominals, help to anchor you upright. During pregnancy, they separate to accommodate a growing baby. Once these core muscles have spread, they can no longer do the brunt of the work supporting you. In order to adjust, your lower back takes on more work, which can strain your back, creating a sway called lordosis. If your lower back is straining, this can cause your shoulders to round forward in an effort to keep all of the weight on the front of the body, upright. After baby, there are abdominal exercises you can do that can help to strengthen these weakened muscles. Two of these exercises are the hollow rock and the opposite movement, the Superman. Both of these exercises utilize your core and back muscles to give you a stronger midsection.

Strength Train

Strength training helps your body regain the muscle that may have been lost during pregnancy. It is vital, especially as you age, to continue to build muscle. Keeping your muscles strong eases everyday movements and can protect you against future injury or other health issues. When strength training, you can use free weights and your own body weight. You want to be sure to train your muscles as evenly as possible in an effort to not overcorrect bad posture.  Some good easy moves to help strengthen your shoulders and back are the shoulder press, either seated or standing, as well as bent-over rows.

Yoga and Stretching

The shoulders hold a lot of our stress and we have plenty of that as new moms. Yoga can not only help lengthen and strength your back and core, and but it can also relieve tension. An important stretch to relieve the tightness in your upper back is a trapezius stretch. Turn your head to the left, ear to shoulder and then take your left hand and gently apply pressure. Repeat on the opposite side. The cobra pose is a great yoga stretch to help straighten rounded shoulders. Lie on your belly while pushing your torso up. Make sure your arms are straight and that you are squeezing your booty muscles.  Follow it up with child’s pose, rounding the back and tucking the knees under you.

Practice Practice Practice

You don’t need to be walking around balancing a book on your head, but when you do have a moment, take note of how you are standing or sitting. Whether sitting on the coach, nursing, or in front of the bathroom mirror, practice fixing your posture. Hold your head up high, round your shoulders back, and pull your belly button towards your spine. The more you focus on correcting the posture, the more natural it will begin to feel.

As always, make sure you are cleared to begin working out before beginning a new fitness routine.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a personal trainer and mom to 2 rowdy preschool boys. She resides in hot Sahuarita, Arizona.

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