Walking is such a great low impact, pelvic floor safe, energising activity, and perfect for helping you feel energised and start reclaiming your body after having your baby.
We are all aware of the benefits of walking and getting out into the fresh air, including:
- stimulating those feel-good endorphins
- managing your stress and anxiety levels
- improving your health and fitness
- contributing to the prevention of chronic health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Your little ones also enjoy the movement of being in the pram, the fresh air and all the new sights and sounds around them.
For some women there is a strong desire to get back to more challenging and intensive workouts, such as jogging or running, after having a baby, especially if they’ve had to stop during pregnancy. However, during those first 6 months, your pelvic floor, your abdominal muscles and possibly even your pelvis may not be ready as you are.
So, how do I you get the most out of your walks in the early months?
Start out gradually. In the early weeks, focus on gentle walks to get you out into the fresh air and provide a break for you and your baby.
Use these walks as a way to:
- clear your mind
- manage the stress and anxiety that sometimes comes in the early days of having a new baby, and
- to release those feel-good endorphins.
Then once you’ve been cleared by your health professional, and you’re ready to increase the intensity, start with adding in intervals of brisk walking.
Always choose flat surfaces. This helps with avoiding additional impact and jarring on your body or additional loading on the pelvic floor.
Always keep hydrated and ensure that your blood sugar is not low. Take some snacks with you in case you start to feel hungry or light-headed.
Make sure you are wearing supportive exercise gear, particularly a good bra or sports top. This will ensure you feel comfortable and supported while walking. There is nothing worse then bouncing, sore boobs when you’re trying to have an energising walk!
And don’t forget to wear a good pair of supportive walking shoes to prevent any injury to your lower body, including your feet, ankles, knees and pelvis. Remember, in the first 6 months after having your baby, the hormone relaxin is still subsiding, therefore, your joints, ligaments and other tissues are still more susceptible to injury and damage.
If you are breastfeeding, try and feed your little one before going for your walk. This will help with your own personal comfort, and, hopefully, your little one will be more content, and hopefully, have a nap during the walk!
Keep the pram load low. Apart from the weight of your baby, try and minimise any additional load in your pram. Though your general muscle strength may still be good, your entire body, including your pelvic floor strength, will still be recovering. After having your baby, focus on training the weakest part of your body, your pelvic floor. Keeping the load in your pram to a minimum will ensure you are preventing any downward pressure on the pelvic floor from the strain that can come with pushing a heavy pram, which in turn, protecting your pelvic floor.
Pram Posture. The way you push your pram is so important as you could do more harm than good. Making sure you are standing upright (no hunching!), your shoulders are kept relaxed.
Check out my blog about Pram Posture for more important tips!
Breathe. Allow your breathing to be natural so that as you breathe in, your rib cage expands, your diaphragm fills with air as it lowers, your belly softens and your pelvic floor can expand and work with the rest of the core muscles to manage pressure within the abdomen. As your breathe out, the reverse process should occur, resulting in the gentle activation of the pelvic floor and deep lower abdominals, and the closing of the ribs. This will help to support your lower back and pelvis, and ensuring that you are supporting the recovery and rehabilitation of your pelvic floor and core muscles.
Michelle Kenway, an Australian Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out, has written an article about Interval Walking. This gives you some great tips on how to increase your walking intensity safely, while still enabling you to get a great workout to burn body fat and increase your fitness.
If you really are keen to get jogging, and you have checked your abdominal muscle and pelvic floor control, start with a “walk jog” first, alternating periods of jogging with walking, to test out your body.
Finally, with both walking and jogging, if something doesn’t feel right, it probably means something isn’t right and shouldn’t be ignored.
If this is the case, always seek advice from a Women’s Health Physiotherapist or a Pregnancy and Post-Natal Exercise Specialist.
For those early months, while your body is still healing and rebuilding, focus on walking and, more importantly, making the most of every walk!