My Mummy's World : Post-Natal Fitness Questions Answered by Dr Joanna Helcke

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Post-Natal Fitness Questions Answered by Dr Joanna Helcke

I'm currently two months into reviewing the Dr Joanna Helcke Pregnancy and Post Natal Pilates, which I'm loving. As part of the review I was given the opportunity to ask Dr Joanna some questions if I wished to do so - which I did. 

It was great to be able to able to ask some questions, some of my own and some of my readers questions, and get answers from an expert. 

What are the best exercises for toning the tummy after pregnancy.?

The postnatal abdominals need to be looked after and strengthened really carefully. Most new mums will find that the tummy area is the bit of the body that has most changed and so they start doing typical pre-pregnancy abdominal exercises such as sit-ups, planks and crunches. In many cases these exercises are not just unhelpful but can actually make matters worse. If abdominal separation (diastasis recti) has occurred then it is particularly important to work the deepest layer of abdominal muscle (transversus) which we tend to refer to as the core. Gentle core stability work will help tighten the corset of muscle that wraps around the middle, protecting you from back pain and rebuilding abdominal strength the safe and effective way. Postnatal Pilates is one excellent way of working the deep abdominals the right way but you can also use a fitball, building up from very gentle stabilising exercises right the way up to the toughest of abs workouts. 

After the all clear from the GP are there any exercises I should be careful with following a C-Section?

The GP may well give you the all-clear at your 6 week check-up but in reality you will need to wait a few weeks more before attempting to exercise in any formal sense. Many mums – but by no means all – will feel ready to attempt gentle exercise between 8 and 10 weeks post C-section. Once you do resume exercise it is really important to avoid impact work (this is the case regardless of whether or not you have had a C-section) and – however corny it might sound – to listen to your body. Essentially, any exercises which pull and tug on the C-section scar and cause pain or discomfort should be avoided. The wound may have healed on the outside but it is important to remember that internal healing takes longer. In short, it is very much a case of using ones common sense when taking up exercise after a caesarean.

Are there any exercise myths for post-natal ladies you disagree with?


One of the biggest misconceptions which I hear all the time is that abdominal exercises will somehow shift and spot-reduce fat in the tummy area. This simply isn’t the case: no amount of abdominal exercise is going to reduce fat deposits in that area.Another worryingly common thing I hear is “I’ve started jogging because my GP told me at my 6 week check-up that I am fine to start again”. This is really not the case. Whilst the 6 week check-up might well have been fine, it is not appropriate to start jogging, running or high impact exercise in the first 6 months postpartum (for most women). This is because the joints still lack their pre-pregnancy stability and are, therefore, more vulnerable to injury and the pelvic floor (which has had a pretty tough time throughout pregnancy) needs to be given the opportunity to heal, strengthen and recover.


What are the best exercises for reducing 'Thunder thighs'?

This takes me back to the whole question of fitness myths again: if I told you that doing masses of leg work – squats and lunges – will reduce the “Thunder Thighs” it would be wrong. Squats and lunges are great exercises working the most powerful muscles in your body but they are not going to help with specifically losing fat around the bottom and thighs. Ultimately this comes down to how your eat and drink – eat nutritious, health-giving, unprocessed, balanced foods, and keep well hydrated and this will contribute hugely to fighting “Thunder Thighs”! Throw in high intensity interval training (but remember to keep it low impact for 6 months – yes, it can be done!) and a good amount of resistance work to build muscle, and you will start to spot and feel the difference.


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