Let’s have a little fun with this one. When my clients tell me “I can't find the time to work out because I’m always so busy just taking care of my kids” I tell them “well then you are essentially an athlete - we just need to re-frame what exercise can look like.” Have you ever stopped to really consider what a mom does in a day - the amount of movements, the variety of movements, the lifting? Moms...we are athletes. So, if motherhood is a sport, how do you train for it? Being a mother is demanding in a LOT of ways, but let’s consider the physical ways that require a lot of mobility and strength.
Perhaps when a woman is struggling with pain, abdominal separation, leaking, or weakness, we can teach her body how to reconnect with and use the core during the movement patterns that she does all day long without realizing it. Then the brain can more effectively find these muscles and BAM you are using your inner core strength throughout your day, which will really make a change. Then when you take time to run, do yoga, or do a fitness class, that’s bonus exercise time :) On the flip side, since our bodies are master compensators, these repetitive movement patterns that a mom does can be feeding into the problems she is experiencing. If our inner core and central stability system is "quiet", other muscles kick in to get the job done without us even realizing it. And when muscles start over-working, that can lead to pressure control issues, pain, weakness, leaking, etc.
Let's consider the movements that you do throughout your days as a mom that can be categorized as strengthening moves:
Deadlifts: carrying a toddler on your back, picking up your laundry basket, lifting your baby out of the crib, bending over to wipe a runny nose, emptying your dishwasher, giving your kiddo a bath
Squats: picking up your toddler, getting out of a chair holding your baby, lifting your stroller into the trunk of your car, getting down to the floor to wipe up spills or clean up toys
Crunches: getting off the couch with a baby sleeping on your chest, flying a child on your knees playing airplane, getting out of bed.
Obliques: twisting to wriggle a baby or toddler into a car seat, carrying the bucket car seat, carrying your diaper bag containing everything anyone in your family may need for the day, diaper changes, bath time.
Lunges: getting up and down off your floor multiple times per day, running up your stairs skipping steps when you hear your baby cry, reaching to grab a running toddler
Agility: running after a toddler, stepping on a lego (has anyone done that? Ouch! Or one of those little plastic dinosaurs), basically any movement you do with an active kid
Weighted carries: anytime you are carrying your baby around the house or rocking your baby to sleep
Planks: anytime you are on your hands and knees and reaching for anything or cleaning up spills
I could go on, but you get the idea :) Motherhood is a sport - train for it! Pain, leaking, pressure, tightness - all of these symptoms are a sign that there is an imbalance or something is not working the way it should. And all of these things are not something that are “normal because you have had a baby”. In my programs, women go through all of these movements with consideration of form, the inner core, and the pelvic floor because if you give your body the awareness, then when it encounters these movements in life, it will have better access to this stability system and will be able to call it into play. Functional training is so important because then you make continual progress in day to day life - you make your core get stronger naturally in the hours that you are not in an exercise class or on your mat, and feel confident that you are strong just by getting through your day!