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Prolapse and Exercise - so what is to know?

Prolapse and Exercise - so what is to know?

What is Vaginal Prolapse?

Usually our pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and bowel) are supported by a hammock of connective tissue and muscles. If this support system isn’t working as it should, it can lead to one or more of these organs descending into the vagina, which is called a ‘vaginal prolapse’. 

A prolapse can be categorized into different types – a front (or anterior) wall prolapse, which is the bladder or urethra coming down, a back (or posterior) wall prolapse, which is the rectum or small bowel coming down, or a uterine prolapse, which is the womb dropping down. It is still possible for the top of the vagina to drop down if someone has had a hysterectomy. 

It often seems to be assumed that it’s the uterus that most commonly drops down, but actually the front wall of the vagina is the most common type of prolapse to occur. 

Prolapses can also be divided into ‘stages’, depending on how far down the lowest part descends when you do a maximal downward strain:

  • A stage 1 prolapse means that the lowest part of the wall/organ is still more than 1cm inside the vagina 
  • A stage 2 prolapse means that the lowest part of the wall/organ is between 1cm inside and 1cm outside the vaginal opening. This stage of prolapse, when the organ descends to the opening, is often when women become aware of their prolapse for the first time. 
  • A stage 3 prolapse means that the lowest part of the wall/organ is more than 1cm outside the vaginal opening
  • A stage 4 prolapse means that essentially the whole organ has come outside the body – this is relatively rare. 

 

How do I know if I have a Vaginal Prolapse?

The symptoms of a vaginal prolapse are different in everyone, and it’s important to note that sometimes people with mild to moderate prolapses don’t have any symptoms. 

The most common symptoms are:

  • A bulging sensation (or being able to see a bulge) or a feeling of ‘something being there’ in the vagina
  • A feeling of not being able to completely empty the bladder or the bowel (usually because the prolapse is causing a sort of ‘pocketing’ making it difficult to evacuate).
  • Lower back or lower abdominal ‘dragging’ pain

Sometimes women can complain of a ‘heaviness’ or ‘pressure’, but this needs to be confirmed on diagnosis as this can also be a symptom of over-worked, tired pelvic floor muscles. 

Sometimes prolapse can be associated with discomfort with sex, and sometimes with bladder or bowel leakage, but again – this isn’t always the case and should be confirmed on a physical examination, because there are many people who have these symptoms without having a prolapse. 

The health professionals who work specifically in the area of Women’s Health are best placed to make this diagnosis – gynaecologists, Women’s Health & Continence Physiotherapists, or Continence Nurses. However, your GP is a good place to start and many GP’s will have a vast degree of experience in diagnosing and staging prolapses, and can then refer on to one of the aforementioned professionals for further management. 

 

How common is a Vaginal Prolapse?

Unfortunately, it’s very common for women to experience vaginal prolapse, mainly due to our anatomy. We are animals that stand upright, and have a large proportion of our body weight going through our pelvis, but we also need a wide pelvic opening to be able to birth very large offspring through!

That mix of a large pelvic opening with a heavy load on top of it is unfortunately not ideal for supporting pelvic organs.

Studies have shown that up to 50% of women who have given birth will have some degree of prolapse, with other research showing that 1 in 3 women will have a prolapse that extends at or beyond the vaginal entrance (ie a stage 2 or more prolapse). 

Unfortunately, there is a high proportion of women who will require surgery for either prolapse or stress urinary incontinence. Statistics show that 1 in 9 women will undergo one of these surgeries, which are not without risks and have relatively high recurrence rates. 

 

What factors increase your risk of Vaginal Prolapse?

The main risk factor for prolapse is having had one or more vaginal births, with specific risk factors including:

  • Forceps deliveries
  • Giving birth to a baby over 4kg (9 pounds)

Prolapse is not limited to only those who have delivered babies vaginally, however, with other risk factors including:

  • Pregnancy
  • Family history of prolapse
  • Increasing age
  • Increasing BMI
  • Constipation
  • Chronic Cough
  • Heavy lifting

The main reason that pregnancy and vaginal childbirth are risk factors is because of their effect on what is called the ‘levator hiatus’. This is the name for the space in the pelvis between the two sides of the pelvic floor, and is essentially ‘the gap into which things can fall’. 

Studies on women who have recently given birth show that this ‘gap’ in usually increased from normal for up to 4-12 months after having a baby. This is one of the main things that Women’s Health Physiotherapists will assess for when doing a vaginal examination at a postnatal assessment, because it helps to determine your individual risk for prolapse occurring or worsening with return to higher load or impact activities. 

This ‘gap’ would be increased more significantly, and more permanently, if the woman experienced a birth injury called a ‘levator avulsion’. This means one or both sides of the pelvic floor muscle having a partial or full tear away from the pelvis bone. This can also be assessed for with a vaginal examination. 

 

How is Vaginal Prolapse managed without surgery?

Pelvic Floor Muscle training, under the guidance of a physiotherapist with post graduate qualifications, is recommended as the first line of treatment for vaginal prolapse. 

We probably assume that this training is all about improving the strength of the pelvic floor muscles (measured out of 5), but studies have shown only a minimal link between a woman’s maximal squeeze pressure improving and prolapse improving. 

This makes sense, because a vaginal prolapse needs to be supported all throughout the day while you’re in an upright position, but we probably only maximally squeeze our pelvic floor muscles for 1% of the day – at times like in response to a big sneeze or lifting something that’s heavy. 

Instead, it is more likely that pelvic floor muscle training helps to decrease prolapse signs and symptoms because it improves the ‘stiffness’ and support of the area, and it decreases the ‘gap into which things can fall’ (the levator hiatus) both at rest and under load. 

Other management strategies would include:

  • Teaching women how to empty their bladder and bowels effectively and without straining
  • Determining if symptoms can be improved by incorporating rest periods in ‘anti-gravity’ positions throughout the day
  • Weight loss 
  • Exercise modification
  • Use of support pessaries

 

What is a Vaginal Support Pessary?

Vaginal pessaries are devices worn inside the vagina that help to give support to the vaginal walls. If fit properly, they should give symptom relief, be comfortable and should stop a prolapse from descending. 

They can be a huge help for women with prolapse who wish to remain active or become more active. Pelvic Floor Muscle Training, while essential in the overall management of prolapse, can take a long time for symptoms to improve. Pessaries could be used in a ‘stop gap’ role to prevent further descent, and possibly give feedback on what types of things cause descent to occur, while concurrently working on pelvic floor training.

 

 

What exercise should I avoid if I have a Vaginal Prolapse?

Now this is an interesting one… and if you’re after a list of Do’s and Do Not’s, I’m sorry… it’s not coming from me!

Let’s start with what the recommendations are for exercise for general health. The Australian Government’s “Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults” states that we should participate in:

Cardio exercise:

  • >150 minutes of moderate intensity activity/week
  • OR 75 minutes of vigorous activity/week (or a mixture)

Resistance exercise:

  • >2 days/week 
  • >1 set of 8-12 reps per area
  • Maximum health benefits are gained when you would struggle to do another set

And recommendations for Bone Density and prevention/management of Osteoporosis:

  • Regularly doing a combination of resistance training and moderate to high impact weight-bearing activities

But historically (and I’m not talking that far in the past either) the recommendations for anyone diagnosed with, or at risk of, vaginal prolapse were:

  • Minimise weights
  • Keep all exercise low impact

But although well-intentioned, how evidence-based was this blanket recommendation?  And by giving this advice, are we compromising overall health (in particular our heart and bones) for the health of the vagina? 

Recent studies have looked a lot more into the pressures created in the abdomen, and more specifically in the vagina, during different types of exercise and although we can extrapolate some general information, the main message that comes out is “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it”. 

If you give the same exercise to a variety of different women, then their individual anatomy, injuries, technique etc will mean that the way they perform that exercise results in a wide variety of different effects to their pelvic floor muscles and vaginal walls. 

It’s highly recommended that in order to tell a woman what exercise they should and shouldn’t do, we should understand:

  1. Their individual risk profile for prolapse occurring or worsening
  2. Whether a certain exercise is likely to be on the higher or lower end of the ‘risk’ spectrum

 

How do I know which risk category I fall into for Vaginal Prolapse?

A Pelvic Health Physiotherapist is a physio who has done a huge amount of extra training in Women’s Health and Pelvic Floor Health. They can do vaginal examinations to check a number of things such as:

  • The Pelvic Floor Muscle function
  • The structural support of the vaginal walls both at rest and on straining (and very important to assess this in standing too!)

There’s a specific test that we can do called ‘GH+PB’, which measures the amount of movement of the tissues at the opening of the vagina when you strain. This measurement, taken externally, has been proven to be a good indicator of what’s happening internally to the size of the space into which our organs could potentially descend. The larger the GH+PB measurement is (in cm) the higher the risk is that a prolapse could occur or worsen when the area is put under strain. 

Some important points to note:

  • It’s important to check if you currently have a prolapse (it’s not always symptomatic) but it’s just as important to pick up those who don’t currently have a prolapse but are at high risk of it developing
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises are important but there’s a lot more to it than just getting the best maximal squeeze possible, especially for endurance activities like running and playing a game of sport (because when you think about it… how much help is a grade 5/5 squeeze going to be during a run if you’re not squeezing maximally while you’re running?)

 

Which exercises are likely to be higher risk?

There are lots of unknowns here, and we don’t know what the ‘safe’ level of intra-abdominal pressure is for preventing prolapse. We also don’t know, without individual assessment, how different women respond to the same exercise. 

But we can understand generally which exercises tend to come out as creating higher intra-abdominal pressure and perhaps these can be the ones that are more closely tested and monitored. 

Things we can assume about strength and resistance exercise:

 

  • Standing exercises have higher pressure than sitting, and both of these have higher pressures than lying down. On this note – abdominal crunches and lying down abdominal exercises usually come out as one of the ‘lowest risk’ exercises in the studies that have been done, although traditionally these have been amongst those that were the most highly cautioned against. 
  • Increasing weights and resistance increases intra-abdominal or intra-vaginal pressure

Things we can assume about aerobic exercise (note that this is probably the hardest type of exercise to investigate, but there is some exciting current research happening in this area):

 

  • Running, jogging, skipping etc are likely to be high risk due to the fact that they have an endurance nature to them, they’re always done in upright positions, and there are ground reaction forces involved.

Things we can assume about Crossfit-style exercise:

 

  • In low risk women (those who are young and have never had children), there is unlikely to be a negative impact on prolapse between those who choose to do Crossfit compared to those who choose to do ‘gentle’ exercise (but there are likely to be many benefits in other areas of health)
  • There is limited/no research on prolapse risk in women who are considered ‘high risk’

Things we can assume about pilates exercise:

 

  • Most pilates mat and reformer exercises are considered low risk and are unlikely to increase intra-abdominal or intra-vaginal pressures significantly (many are performed in lying down and with relatively low resistance)
  • There are lots of benefits to pilates but in isolation it doesn’t meet the guidelines mentioned previously about Disease Control and Prevention and needs to be considered in conjunction with other forms of exercise. 

 

How can a Women’s Health Physio give you individualized information about the type of exercise you should consider?

A Women’s Health Physio should be able to put all of this together and come up with a plan that suits you regarding an exercise regime. 

They might assess you and find that you’re very low risk for prolapse occurrence or worsening, and then you can work out together whether any monitoring needs to occur as you increase your load and intensity in your workouts. 

They might assess you and find that you’re currently in a high risk category and they can help you to work on a pelvic floor program (and possibly a pessary fitting) to allow you to gradually return to the exercise you love with close monitoring. 

They might assess you and find that you fit somewhere in the middle. Perhaps there are certain things that either make your prolapse symptomatic, or that cause vaginal wall descent without you realizing. Rather than advising you to stop exercising completely, they should be able to help you to come up with regressions or variations of these movements, and perhaps supplement them with other forms of exercise that you enjoy to allow you to still meet the health guidelines. 

 

Some final points to remember about Prolapse and Exercise…

  • Exercise is vital to overall health, and women unfortunately often decrease exercise due to fear of worsening a prolapse. 
  • Remember that a large number of exercises that were previously suggested to be ‘not pelvic floor safe’ don’t actually have much evidence to back that up (and might be really good for overall health)
  • Individual assessment and reassessment is key – and remember that you can’t assess prolapse or risk of prolapse with only an external examination. So if you’ve only had a real time ultrasound screening assessment on your abdomen, this isn’t able to be used to determine your risk profile. 

If you’d like to see a specialist physiotherapist in Western Australia, there’s online Directory for both private and public referrals:

Also, if you live in Perth or Mandurah, we have compiled a list of post-graduate trained physiotherapists who are particularly good with pregnancy, postpartum and exercise – see the FitRight website!

And remember – the whole aim of FitRight is to keep you moving, even if you do have a vaginal prolapse. Chances are that multiple women if every one of our classes are managing a prolapse and the instructors will be aware of this and know how to modify the classes to suit individual needs. 

Whether you’re pregnant, early postnatal, a Mum of young children or heading into peri-menopause, we have classes to suit you!

 

Article was written by Taryn Watson owner of FIT Right. She holds a 

Have you read the NEWS?? Exercise in pregnancy and breastmilk reduce the risks

Have you read the NEWS?? Exercise in pregnancy and breastmilk reduce the risks

A new study finds even moderate exercise during pregnancy increases a compound in breast milk that reduces a baby's lifelong risks of serious health issues such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

 

A new study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine finds even moderate exercise during pregnancy increases a compound in breast milk that reduces a baby's lifelong risks of serious health issues such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

They already know that exercising during pregnancy is beneficial to the unborn baby but they wanted to also understand the WHY. When they did their original study they found that the health benefits from fit mums transferred to the pups, proving that they were, in fact, passed through breast milk and not simply inherited genetic traits.

Researchers followed about 150 pregnant and postpartum women using activity trackers and found that those who had more steps per day had an increased amount of a compound known as 3SL in their breast milk, which they believe is responsible for these health benefits.

They are now trying to see if they can extract this 3SL so that maybe they can add it to baby formula to help Mums who were maybe on bed rest or can’t breastfeed.

Dorothy M. Davis states: “Exercise is also great for your overall health during and after pregnancy, so anything you can do to get moving is going to benefit both you and your baby."

So there you have it even more reason to get out and get moving with your bump on board!

 

Information from the study was published in ScienceDaily.com

Exercise and the clinging baby stage...

Exercise and the clinging baby stage...

Many of us have experienced days, weeks and months whereby the baby, toddler does not want to be put down. This may be the result of new teeth coming in, separation, a leap, fussiness from tummy upset/gas/reflux/colic etc. Many then chuck the baby on the hip and try to carry on with the normal household duties etc because we all know that the jobs just dont get done by themselves!

This way of carrying puts pressure on one side and eventually tilts/unbalances the pelvis region like below:

One of the ways that can help this issue is baby wearing. Purchasing a good quality carrier and getting it fitted for to you. Carrying a baby in a sling or snuggled in a wrap has more benefits than simply being a hands-free carrier – it can aid colic relief, bonding, physical development and more.

When selecting a carrier it is important to remember the following:

  • Head and neck support for babies and sleeping infants/children
  • Wide base of support that supports the thighs and flexes the knees
  • Postural curves support
  • Wide or cushioned adjustable shoulder straps
  • Ability to distribute the baby’s weight evenly across the parents body
  • Ease of loading/unloading, so that the parent can keep their spine in a neutral position

When it comes to exercise you can still get it done and we have found an uplifting fun and motivating class that is for you. It is called Kangatraining.

Kangatraining is a babywearing fitness class for mum and babies. One of the biggest positives of Kangatraining, is that not only do you bring your baby to class, they are an active and important part of the workout! 

PreKanga is the best activity program during pregnancy. KangaOnWheel, KangaTrail, NordicKanga, ReactivKanga and KangaMix are our outdoor classes. KangaBurn is the most efficient workout without your baby. Each of our workout concepts is based on sports science and created with experts such as gynecologists, sport scientists and physiotherapist. The best bit is you can take part with a small bub or even with a toddler. 

Kanga-Classes are being offered in over 25 countries. Here in Australia they have over 100 Kangatrainers running sessions across Australia in both regional and metropolitan areas. Their programs include-: PreKanga (the prenatal program)KangaTrail, KangaOnWheel and KangaMix.

You can get more info HERE

 

 

 

Lock it down with Exercise

Lock it down with Exercise

Right now the role of exercise has taken an even higher priority. Not only are people stuck at home, so they have more time to spare. Secondly, mental health has taken a hit and many are struggling with a range of heightened emotions. Research keeps demonstrating that exercise can help to level out the emotional state and is imperative to copying at this time.

An area parents struggle with is finding the time to exercise - but there are ways to do exercise at home and no matter what age the kids are they can be a party to the activity. Not only is it a great bonding exercise but you are also being a role model in showing that exercise is important for mind and body….

Exercise also helps to increase the rate of postnatal recovery, improves muscle tone, circulation, digestion, mood, sleep patterns and so much more. (The list is endless)

As a result of CO-VID19 gyms and recreational centres have closed resulting in all needing to exercise at home or in their local park. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you need fancy equipment to get in a resistance workout. By creating a HIIT style workout you can get a whole body, sweat producing workout that can be changed daily to keep motivation high. Ours normally consists of 6-8 exercises. We do 40-45 sec of work and 15 sec rest- with 30 sec recovery at the end of each circuit.

For example a leg focused workout might look like this:

7 exercises: Knee up, Plank, glute bridge, donkey kick, fire extinguisher, grapevine and sumo squat pulse. 45 sec work, 15 sec rest=7:30 one circuit. (2 circuits =15 min, 4 circuits=30 min etc)

People are also struggling to get equipment because demand is high. The other day we saw a kettlebell advertised for $260…Just because you don’t have equipment or can’t buy at this time doesn’t mean you can’t do resistance workouts. Here are some ideas for creative ways to make your own equipment:

  • An upside down saucepan can act as a mini step- use it to do toe taps, travelling pushups, around the world, knee up etc
  • Filling an old cushion cover with triple bagged sand/potting mix can be a medicine ball substitute- lift above head, slams, press ups- chest, squats with hugging weight, sit up with weight, lunges etc
  • Fill a backpack with those extra cans that you now have stockpiled- all sorts of weighted exercises can be done- walking lunges, squats, bicep curls, press, farmers walk, tricep extensions, jump over burpees
  • A chair- tricep dips, step ups, mountain climbers
  • A bucket filled with water- 1 L = about 1 kg
  • Use chalk to draw an agility ladder - great for cardio speed work , jumping, quick feet

Including your children in your workout is also a possibility.

Why HIIT Is A Great Option For Time Poor Mums

Why HIIT Is A Great Option For Time Poor Mums

How would you feel if I told you, that you could do a 15 minute workout anywhere at any time at any stage of your fitness journey that could burn a large amount of calories and did not require equipment?

Well the training method called HIIT offers you exactly all of that.

Hiit Style training is a great introduction if your looking to come back into fitness or it’s a great challenge if you’re a seasoned exerciser.

Here are the benefits of Hiit Style Training –

I have put them in order of what I know are the biggest concerns mum's have when thinking about Hiit Style training -

1 – I’m not fit enough to do Hiit 

 Perfect for all fitness levels.

If you’re a mum and you're just thinking about where to start with the whole exercising thing as you want to start feeling good again, Hiit training can help. You start with a 15 minute workout and you will notice in a short amount of time you can increase the length of these.

HIIT workouts offer experienced or fit gym goers a new challenge, and beginners a quicker way to see results. You are constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone with the shortened rest phases.

2-  I don’t want to train at a gym

You can do it anywhere

HIIT is such a simple concept of work phase and rest phase, you can take it anywhere with you – to the kids park, the gym floor, the beach, your lounge room or a hotel room on holiday. And you can choose the exercises that you have enough space to complete! 

3 -  I have no time to think about exercising even though I know I should

 Time efficient

 HIIT is great if you have a limited amount of time to work out. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym to reap the benefits of regular exercise and Hiit helps play a huge part in this.

  1. 4. I don’t own any equipment

 No equipment required

HIIT workouts are so great as no equipment is required. All you need is a little bit of space. HIIT workouts can focus just your own body weight, so any workout that gets your heart rate up quickly such as plyometric, high knees, and jumping jacks can be implemented into a HIIT workout. particular muscle group – and of course if you have any injures regressions of all movements are available and still great to use.

 

5.. Will this help me  lose this baby weight  

Burns calories and helps with fat loss

The harder you exercise the harder your body has to work to fire up those muscles. Hiit is challenging for the body as you are pushing yourself through each working phase.

 

6 . I am more interested in making sure I can run with my kids

Great for cardio conditioning

During the high intensity periods (working phase) of exercise, HIIT takes you into an anaerobic training zone (where your body's demand for oxygen exceeds the oxygen supply available).

With consistent training in this zone, you will be able to out run your kids and be able to show them up in no time.

 Article written by Cass Wilson, Mum of two who runs and co-owns HIIT That Group Fitness  in Perth. 

She is on a mission to help women to take better care of their bodies, and give them the confidence to get stronger both physically and mentally as their embark on their journey as a new mum. She has a special interest in pre and postnatal woman and is passionate about educating them on how to lift weights and exercise correctly,

 

To Support Or Not Support The GIRLS

To Support Or Not Support The GIRLS

Support in bras is oh so important.

 

Did you know:

 

That a pair of D-cup boobs weigh in at 7 to 10kg. “That’s more than enough to pull your trunk forward, force you into a hunched-over running posture, decrease your stride’s efficiency, and up your risk of injury,” McGhee says.

 

If you haven’t noticed, pretty much the only thing keeping your breasts up during a run is your bra’s shoulder straps, which take a lot of weight. When straps are thin, the pressure can be so great they not only leave dents in your shoulders but hit the brachial plexus nerve group, causing numbness in the pinky fingers.

 

We recommend a razor back or full back and should support for high-intensity exercise.

 

How much your boobs bounce depends almost entirely on breast size and elasticity of the skin covering your breasts, McGhee says. However, skin tends to lose its elasticity with age and “excessive breast bouncing.” So, the more your breasts bounce, the more they will bounce during future runs. Add in breastfeeding or post breastfeeding and your lady friends could be dragging on thin ice mid run….

 

How much do breasts bounce? Measuring the bounce of both bare and bra-covered breasts during treadmill workouts, McGhee found the average 38D moves about 13cm from top to bottom during running. Smaller breasts bounce about 7.5cm, which can still be uncomfortable. And breasts don't just bounce in an up and down motion; some larger breasts bounce in figure-eight shapes.

 

While they can’t completely eliminate bouncing, high-support sports bras can cut the range of motion in half (approximately), McGhee says. The goal is for the breasts to move in unison with your torso and not bounce independently of one another.

 

During pregnancy there is evermore of a concern. When you're pregnant, your body has very high levels of oestrogen and progesterone, hormones that stimulate your breasts' milk glands and milk ducts, respectively. The result of all this can be a big change in bra size, but growth usually slows or stops at the end of the first trimester. No special foods, massages, exercises, or creams affect breast growth during pregnancy, so spend your money on a good supportive bra instead. 

CrossFit In Pregnancy

CrossFit In Pregnancy

To train or not to train....

Generally if you have been doing CrossFit of F45 for a period of time prior to pregnancy you are ok to continue and scale/modify the activities. This is of course if you have no medical problems and have been generally cleared to from your doctor.

The BOXLIFE magazine sums up some great myths around this topic.

MYTH OR FACT? “Women should scale their workouts while they are pregnant.”

The most important thing for the woman to remember is to listen to her body. Each day will be different and certain movements may begin to feel awkward or uncomfortable. The competitive nature of CrossFit can cause women to feel frustrated when their bodies are telling them to slow down. Remember: It’s only for nine months!

What modifications should be used no matter what?

Whether you’re pregnant or not, form is king. Form should never be compromised when performing a lift or during a workout. As a woman’s belly grows, it will be impossible to maintain an optimal bar path. This means there will come a time where a switch to kettlebells or dumbbells is called for. Also, pregnant women release a hormone called Relaxin which causes ligaments to be looser and can affect balance. Therefore, movements such as box jumps should be avoided after the first trimester. Double-unders, for example, should be left to each individual and how she feels on the given day.

MYTH OR FACT? “Intense workouts will harm the baby.”

Intensity is a relative term. Exercise is very beneficial to your baby. Mom and baby share everything, including hormones. If mom releases endorphins while exercising, baby will reap the benefit as well. Studies also show that moms who exercise during pregnancy have larger placentas which mean more oxygen exchange for the baby.

MYTH OR FACT? “I need to monitor my heart rate when working out during my pregnancy.”

This is also an outdated fact. It’s more important to listen to your body and take breaks as needed. Over the course of a pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume increases by as much as 50%! This is why women feel short of breath during workouts a lot sooner than they are accustomed. Every minute on the minute (EMOM) workouts are great for pregnant CrossFitters as it gives them built-in rest.

MYTH OR FACT? “My diet needs to change tremendously.”

That depends on what you were eating before you were pregnant. A Paleo or Primal diet is ideal for pregnancy as it ensures that moms are getting adequate protein, minerals and good fats. The best book I’ve read on this subject is “Beautiful Babies” by Kristen Michaelis.

MYTH OR FACT? “I just found out I’m pregnant and want to start CrossFit to start living a more active lifestyle. Is it safe for me?”

Newly pregnant women have asked me this very question. I think the functional movements we do in CrossFit are definitely beneficial for pregnant women. However, if you’ve never done it before, I recommend you find a personal trainer or coach who truly knows about the pregnant body. Have them work with you one-on-one. I design programs for women with little to no CrossFit experience as well as those with many years under their belt. Beginners can benefit greatly from some of the basic movements, but I would not recommend that a newbie jump into a CrossFit class newly pregnant!

MYTH OR FACT? “Miscarriages are more likely if you CrossFit.”

It’s hard to know what exactly causes a miscarriage. It’s also easy for women to blame themselves for something they did, something they ate, etc., when sometimes nature just has other plans for us. I know many newly pregnant moms worry about this, but I would say, again, take it easy for the first trimester. You may feel tired and nauseous or you may feel awesome. Each day is different. Use this time to move your body and release endorphins, even if it’s by walking or doing something lighter until you feel more confident jumping back into a workout.

Just tell us…Is it safe to CrossFit while pregnant?

As with any exercise, as long as you’ve been doing it for at least six months prior to pregnancy, you should be fine. The functional movements we do in CrossFit are extremely beneficial for helping women get through labor. Squatting is one of the best exercises for the pelvic floor and tends to help CrossFitting mamas have shorter pushing times.


I tend to be conservative when it comes to some of the more “controversial” topics regarding pregnancy. For example, I am adamantly opposed to going upside down while pregnant. It’s one of those instances where you will probably be OK, but what if you aren’t? Why risk it for a handstand push-up? I think it’s important to take a step back and put it all into perspective. Women must also remember not to compare themselves to anyone else. Just because your friend is doing muscle ups while pregnant doesn’t mean it will feel OK for you. Listening to your body each and every day is key.”

 The BARBELLPHYSIO.com recommends not doing the following exercises:

 

  1. Bench press

Despite the common misconception otherwise, resistance training is actually very beneficial for pregnant women. But one situation you should avoid is lying flat on your back for too long, especially as you advance into your second trimester and the weight of the uterus puts pressure on the major blood vessels running alongside your spine. Replace the bench press with an incline dumbbell press to avoid this issue.

  1. Sit ups

Although exercise during pregnancy is definitely good for you, the muscles of the abdomen are being put under considerable strain as the baby forces them to stretch and thin. Side planks and Pallof presses are good alternatives to sit ups with lower risk.

  1. Push ups and burpees

Although your body is still capable of doing these in muscular terms, the simple mechanics of the situation may well defeat you as your rapidly growing belly starts to press the floor. Luckily, all you need to do is raise the upper part of your body, either on a bench or bars, to give yourself enough space to enjoy these CrossFit basics.

  1. Snatch and clean

Again, this becomes difficult due to the sheer mechanics of your protruding abdomen as pregnancy progresses. Perform the power version instead and then move to squatting under control.

  1. Pushing your personal best

OK, so this isn’t a specific exercise, but it’s pretty much the bread and butter of CrossFit, so it’s worth addressing. Although the old ‘don’t let your heart rate rise above 140 bpm’ myth has almost completely died out, there’s a consensus that putting your body under too much stress while exercising may be uncomfortable for your growing baby as his oxygen levels drop.

 

 

ACTIVE MUM PROFILE: Introducing you to Kirsty Palmer

ACTIVE MUM PROFILE: Introducing you to Kirsty Palmer

Kirsty Palmer is a Personal Trainer and Nutrition coach. She also balances this with her beautiful 9 month old little boy.

 

Her passion is helping others and if you follow her on social media you will see she has quite an army of woman who are inspired by her greatness.

“Seeing the change in someone throughout their fitness journey is incredible. Not just physically, but also emotionally. They have become more confident, more optimistic, healthier and stronger in all aspects of their life. 

Working with all different skill sets and fitness levels I am always working for my clients. Doing everything I can to teach them how to live and love a healthier life.

My aim is to encourage many females to love their body - feel confident in their own skin - and to enjoy the life they have by moving their body daily and feeling their body with nourishing foods!” 

 

She is Owner and Personal Trainer of Kirsty Palmer Fitness, has coached at Team Des Fitness In Birmingham UK as well as being the author of 2 Exercise Ebooks based for gym and at home workouts. 

 We caught up with her recently to discuss all things pregnancy and beyond:

1.How did your exercise regime change in your pregnancy?

My weights dropped and reps increased.

I had to ensure my heart rate didn't over work through the roof like normal, so listening to my body whilst training and not pushing like crazy was a must!

I was also so tired so some days I listened to my body and had a rest day instead of working out. Don't beat yourself up, its only a season!

 

2.If there was a change, why? Energy, not sure about what to do etc

My energy levels were so up and down throughout my pregnancy, some days I woke up and felt like I could run a marathon and others I just wanted to sleep. Pregnancy really taught me to listen to my body and rest when I needed to.

 

3.What exercises did you do in your pregnancy?

Exactly what I was doing pre pregnancy as that is what my body was use to. I preferred going on the stationary bike than walking. And did mini resistance/body weighted circuits when my energy levels where high! my aim was to try move my body daily, even if it was a walk around the block, just to get outdoors and be in the fresh air!

 

4.Number one top training tip for mums to be?

Don't start exercising crazy and doing different movements if your body is not use to it or you have never done it before just because you want to be healthy as you have found out you are pregnant. 

If you want to exercise start with walking And light cycling on the bike. Remember the stress from exercise you go through your baby does to. 

 

5.Did you breastfeed? 

Yes, and still breastfeeding - 9 months in and going strong.

 

6.If so, do you think your active pursuits effected your supply?

Ive never had a crazily high supply from the beginning, it's always been just enough. So I had to ease my way back into exercise and still to this day I manage 3-4 sessions per week and I am okay still to this day.

 

7.How did you balance feeding and exercise?? - tips

Sometimes I don't know half the things I have been able to balance out. Especially being a single mum.  But for me exercise makes me feel better, and I honestly can't live without it. Its been my form of me time. I have been demand feeding from day one so once I feed Elijah I know I have a good hour to workout from home, or even when he sleeps, I do a quick workout. Every day is different. So I just go with the flow and how I am feeling!

 

 

Head to www.kirstypalmer.com to find out more about this inspiring mumma.

 

Mum Bum Syndrome: Aka FLAT BUTT

Mum Bum Syndrome: Aka FLAT BUTT

Yes you read right....have you ever noticed that post pregnancy your bum seems like a flat pancake or you are having to hitch up those jeans more than ever...Well the good news is you are not alone. There is something called ‘mum bum syndrome’ and many suffer from it.

 

The truth is you’re probably a bum tucker.

In fancy anatomy terms this is called a posterior pelvic tilt – where your butt tucks in and your lower back flattens.

 

 

It’s super common for this to happen during pregnancy because there’s a lot of baby sticking out the front of you so – if you’re not working on corrective exercises throughout your pregnancy – the pelvis tucks under to balance that weight.

 

Fast forward post-pregnancy and your ligaments and muscles have become lengthened and weaker due to the extra weight...

 

The good news is that ‘Mum Flat Pancake Butt’ doesn’t have to stay forever and you can correct it. Below are some tips we found to help correct this area:

 

Stand Up

 

Sitting does nothing to build the glutes and everything to make it flat as a pancake and let’s face it, we spend a lot of time sitting these days don’t we? Minimizing the amount of time spent sitting is critical to maintaining a healthy backside!

 

Walk

 

To make up for the amount of time we spend sitting, many of us head to the gym to burn some calories while often choosing high-intensity activity that may not be well suited to our body, especially after having a baby.

One of the best exercises out there is walking, particularly hill walking. Walking is low impact and when you add in the incline of a hill, it really blasts those glutes into high gear along with revving up the cardio!

 

Bridges

 

One of the best glute exercises out there is the bridge and this can be done during pregnancy with a wedge and as early as the 2nd week postpartum.

As your strength increases you can also add some resistance with a sandbag on your pelvis and once your pelvic stability is on track you can also up the challenge by performing the movement with one leg off the ground and extended.

 

Hip Extensions

 

These can be done standing or on all fours (however I don’t recommend being on all fours during).

You don’t need a fancy piece of equipment – you can simply use your body weight or you can tie a theraband around your ankles to add some resistance.

 

Squats

 

Squatting is a great glute builder and is also a movement that will be done over and over and over as you bend down to pick up your babe or toddler (or their toys, or spilled food, or…).

Squatting can be done (and should be done) during pregnancy and within a few weeks postpartum. The range of motion can be modified but you want to aim for a nice deep squat with the tailbone un-tucked and your pelvis in neutral (keeping the small curve in your low back).

 

 

There are many glute exercises out there but these versions offer versatility both before and after pregnancy. They help maintain and build up the glutes while also encouraging the sacrum to stay un-tucked which is key to avoiding and curing mum bum syndrome!

 

So as you can see we like big butts post pregnancy so get those glutes moving and pelvis tilting....

Can’t find the time to exercise? Make your newborn, baby or toddler, part of your routine

Can’t find the time to exercise? Make your newborn, baby or toddler, part of your routine

Written by Joanne Shepherd for bodyandsoul.com.au

 

 

Can’t find the time to exercise? Make your newborn, baby or toddler, part of your routine, says this mum and personal trainer.  

 

One of the hardest things when you become a new mum is making time for you. Actually, in a way, it’s one of the more important things because if you don’t look after yourself then the rest doesn't function very well.

 

When you’re a brand new mum it’s important to get fresh air and get the main body systems working. It helps to increase the rate of postnatal recovery, improves muscle tone, circulation, digestion, mood, sleep patterns and so much more.

 

Once your doctor has cleared you to exercise there are a range of options. The opportunities are endless so depending on the age of your children here are some other ways to fit in some exercise with your little ones in tow.

 

NEWBORN

 

Putting the baby in the stroller and doing a bench to bench workout

At your local park or equivalent, complete an exercise then walk to the next park bench and complete a set of the next exercise. An example could be as simple as the following: static lunge whilst holding the pram (10 each leg), Bear crawl across 10m up and back, incline push-up, sprint, tricep push up, squat pulse, mountain climbers. (At each bench perform 10 -15 reps).

Make the most out of your baby carrier

Most newborns love the Baby carrier. I remember days where the baby was strapped to me 24/7 which made it hard to get anything done. But by placing them in the carrier you can still do a workout. It is a great way to ease back into exercise and can be done anywhere or anytime. Examples of exercises that you can perform are walking lunges, sumo squats, torso twist and punch, the chair dip, hip-raisers, wall sit, standing donkey kick (leg raiser).

Postpartum the most important thing is to listen to your body, work from inside out and focus on core, pelvic tilts and Kegel exercises.

 

BABY

 

As the baby starts to become more aware of the surroundings and enjoy the time outside there are a number of extra options that you can include into your daily workout schedule. Setting a positive and healthy example from the beginning is so important. Remember monkey see monkey do!

 

The stroller

 

You don’t need gym equipment to get you started - the stroller is a great option! You can include sit ups by keeping feet on the stroller and doing peek a boo, plank/reach and tap on either side of the stroller, side and back leg lift, squats to calf raisers, lunges, one leg flute bridge/lift, push-ups, knee lifts, back leg lift to front leg crunch.

 

The mat

 

A mat is another option where the little one can have tummy time or lay on their back kicking about while you perform a sequence of exercises. They particularly like the push up and planks as you can make it into a game. It is also a great bonding time as you have no other distractions and focus the attention on them (it also takes the pain of the exercise away.)

Examples of mat exercises are leg lifts, baby weight bridge hip thrusters, Russian twist with baby, superman, side plank, extended leg lift. Some higher intensity options include burpees, reverse crunch or high knees. Yoga and Pilates is also another good mat option to include the little one in.

 

 

TODDLER/OLDER KIDS

 

As children grow into the next stage they like to mimic and feel part of the workout. This is great bonding time and is also demonstrating a positive and healthy role model.

 

A partner workout

 

This is a great way to get them to burn off some additional energy. Doing exercises like squat jumps, incline push-ups, burpees, sit up hi 10’s, plank and feet taps. Your child may even have some creative ideas of their own! Anything to get the body moving.

 

The Park/Playground

 

Park and playground equipment offer great exercise options including: pull ups on the monkey bars or leg hangs and lifts. The slide is a good tricep dip option. You can use a curved ladder to do incline push-ups or hanging row. The swing can be used to do a plank tuck or Bulgarian split squat.

 

The options are truly endless, but the benefits from working out with kids gives you the well-deserved time for you, great bonding time (they pick up on the positive vibes from you doing something for yourself), you are setting a positive lifelong example and it can benefit their muscular and motor skills at the same time. Realistically it is ourselves who put the barriers up to exercising once we have children. Remember ‘the first step is often the hardest’ and ‘where there is a will there is a way’.

 

Joanne Shepherd is a personal trainer and founder of Mummactiv

MAMAS RECIPES: It Is All About The BOWLS!

MAMAS RECIPES: It Is All About The BOWLS!

Sometimes trying to get that extra bit of fuel is troublesome so once a week we are going to share a recipe for a snack or meal that can be ready to go. Breastfeeding is quite time consuming so having something ready to go to enjoy is super important to help keep the right fuel going in.

 

This week we are sharing one of our favourite go to lunches that is a great source of protein. It can be prepped in advance and thrown together in between holding a newborn or dealing with the tantrums.

 

BOWLS are the answer to every lunchtime. They are packed with protein, grains and plenty of veggies. They heat up easily in the microwave with minimal clean-up or waste.

 

A week’s worth of lunch made in just 1 hour. This time-saving meal-prep chicken burrito bowls recipe will help you get healthy lunch on the table at work, school or home quickly without sacrificing flavor or your hard-earned money.

 

This weeks meal prep recipe is chicken burrito bowls.  The meat, rice, beans, and  veggies are all loaded in 1 bowl for easy heating up, and the cold ingredients are placed in a separate bowl. When you are ready to have a fresh burrito bowl, you simply heat up the chicken bowl then top it with the cold salad, guacamole, and sour-cream. 

 

Ingredients:

 

For the Chicken

  • 4 small-medium boneless (or 1 pound) skinless chicken breasts, pounded (or thighs)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning * or 2 tablespoons homemade or plain

 

Canned Corn

Canned black beans

Avocado

Chopped tomato

Salsa

Rice: 1/2 c brown or white

 

Squeeze of lime and maybe some fresh sprigs of coriander

ACTIVE MUM PROFILE: Introducing You To Amber Orton

ACTIVE MUM PROFILE: Introducing You To Amber Orton

She is the founder of ADOFitness and is an accomplished fitness industry professional, personal trainer, nutrition/prep coach, posing instructor, competitor, endorsed athlete, NPC judge, and cover model. Although her career began in the financial business world, this transitioned to full time personal training after her introduction and newly discovered love for bikini bodybuilding competitions in 2010. After extensive misguided nutrition and training advice, she was left with an unhealthy relationship with food and a damaged endocrine system. Her real passion then developed into helping herself and others reach their fitness goals in a healthy and sustainable way. Knowing she wanted to have children, she decided to stop competing and seek out an endocrinologist and hormone specialist. She began healing and restoring her body to a healthy state through proper nutrition and exercise. While she and her husband still had unexplained infertility challenges, they were blessed to conceive their son via In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Her miracle baby was born in December of 2016, which she proudly says is her greatest accomplishment to date! Her goal now with ADOfitness is to help others optimize their health with sustainable and realistic nutrition and exercise programs that focus on internal AND external health.

We wanted to check in with Amber and see what her pregnancy and Breastfeeding journey was like to help other Mums....

 

1.How did your exercise regime change in your pregnancy?

 

Due to some complications up front, I was on medical bedrest for about the first 14 weeks of my pregnancy. After that time, once I was cleared to workout, I didn't perform HIIT or direct core work any longer. I also lifted a little lighter than usual. Other than that it didn't change a whole lot. 

 

 

2.If there was a change, why? Energy, not sure about what to do etc

 

The only thing that held me back was fear of miscarriage due to complications with a subchorionic hemorrhage. Once that cleared up, nothing held me back other than understanding that direct core work and HIIT should be avoided part the second trimester.

 

 

3.What exercises did you do in your pregnancy?

 

Strength training, yoga, walking, and some jogging.

 

4.Number one top training tip for mums to be?

 

Listen to your body! Understand when you need to slow down, maybe eat a little more, or not push as hard!

 

5.Did you breastfeed? 

 

Yes, 30 months!

 

6.If so, do you think your active pursuits effected your supply?

 

No, I think a lot of factors affect supply but keeping water intake high, eating enough of the right foods, and properly bonding with your baby to establish your supply is key.

 

7.How did you balance feeding and exercise?? - tips

 

I would pump if need be and that way my son could be fed by our nanny or my husband if I was working out. I took it slow at first and made sure I didn't see a dip in my supply with my expenditure increasing. I noticed the biggest dip when my stress was high and when my water intake wasn't high enough. If I focused on those two things I didn't have any issues!

 

Wow what an incredible lady with so much knowledge in the fitness industry to share with Mums at all levels whether you want to get back into activity or you want to compete on stage.

 

If you want to check out more of Amber’s amazing journey head to https://www.amberdawnorton.com