6 Tips To Returning To Bootcamps, CrossFit, and HIIT Training Post-Pregnancy
Bootcamps are notorious for high-intensity training...after all, the military coined the term. They’re popular because they give you that rush and you feel like you’ve gotten in one heck of a workout.
I remember those days!
Mom and baby bootcamps as well as stroller bootcamps have really become the go to in every new moms fitness regime over the last few years. They offer the same things as the traditional boot camp with the added bonus of having baby in toe.
Now, I want to say that these programs offer something to new moms that they desperately need as they transition to motherhood….community and friendship. It’s important for any new mom to have social outings because more often than not, new moms tend to stay close to home in the safety net of home. They don’t have to worry if baby is fussing or if they need to eat. However, as far as an emotional standpoint, this can be very lonely.
So, why not join a program that makes you feel good and gets you out with other like minded moms?
We need physical and social interactions that can easily be done with our babies to release those feel good hormones for our emotional selves and we need to move to build strength as well as endurance for growing baby...they’re just going to get bigger and faster!
Mom and baby fitness is one thing but because of the level of intensity in these programs (yes, mom and baby boot camp and stroller bootcamps too), may not be ideal if you’re just starting out or getting back into fitness post-pregnancy for a number of reasons. This isn't to say that these programs are not great programs because some are, it's that the level of intensity may not be ideal when you're early in your postpartum period.
Let’s say you’re in your fourth trimester and you had a c-section. There is a huge difference between that and a mom who had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery and is 6 months postpartum. There is an even bigger difference at 1 year postpartum.
I know that these programs are everywhere and what I want for you is to be as safe as possible. If you do want to sign up for any kind of boot camp or CrossFit, there are ways to do it safely.
First; you’re pelvic floor needs to assessed. I send all of my clients to a pelvic floor physio when they train with me and your trainer, fitness instructor, or coach should too!
It doesn’t matter how fit you were before pregnancy, your pelvic floor is still impacted by your pregnancy and hormonal changes (relaxin and progesterone which affects your joint and collagen levels). It takes about 3-6 months for relaxin to regulate and may not be able to meet the demands of high intensity exercise. Your breastfeeding hormones will also have an impact.
Additionally, your pelvic floor may have been injured during labour and delivery. You may have had perineal tearing, or the use of a vacuum or forceps which will need to be looked at and possible treated.
You may have a weak, or tight pelvic floor. It’s possible to have both. Some women have trigger points and scar tissue which may be painful. There may be back and pelvic pain that’s brushed off as a normal postpartum issue . There may even be a pelvic organ prolapse or POP (when one or more pelvic organs are descending through your vagina), and if you haven't been educated about your pelvic floor or any kind of dysfunction, you may not notice these symptoms. However, if these symptoms aren't treated or diagnosed, this may become problematic when it’s aggravated by high-intensity fitness programming.
Your pelvic floor is just like every muscle in your body. It can function well or not very well at all. If you notice that you leak a little when you’re working out, sneezing, coughing or laughing, it is NOT normal.
These are all pelvic floor dysfunctions that may not be very obvious but the only way to know for sure is to see a pelvic floor physio first even if you don’t have any symptoms. I have a pelvic organ prolapse and it was found at 3 months postpartum and I had no symptoms. I spend about 8 months rehabbing it and at 1 year I went for a reassessment. It went from a mild/moderate down to a mild.
2. Running, jumping and sprinting are typically prescribed in bootcamps other typical
fitness programs. If your instructor has that in their program, if you're having symptoms like pain, heaviness in your vagina or leaking, ask your instructor to work with you to find a modification that works for you.
Remember what I mentioned above? Running, jumping and sprinting all have an impact on your pelvic floor. If you’re your pelvic organs aren’t very well supported by your pelvic floor, that will leave you vulnerable.
If you're symptom free, the go and have fun!
3. Start with a rehabilitative and restorative fitness program like 4-Core Power Moves. This is my most popular program and it's FREE. You learn how to engage with your pelvic floor and deep core. It complements (most) treatment pelvic floor protocols and works well if you do find yourself with a pelvic floor dysfunction.
Regardless of the nature of your birth,4-Core Power Moves is gentle and extremely effective teaching you to reconnect with your body by working with retraining your brain to function along with your body, addresses diastasis recti as well as any back/hip discomforts and corrects the most common alignment issues that occur during your pregnancy.
Along with your treatment plan with your pelvic floor physio and Post-Baby Rehab, this will get you up and running without issue (pun intended!)
4. Go slow. There is no need to rush back into high-intensity training. Start with walking with your babe and/or low impact body weight movements then gradually build. My Post-Baby Core Training Guide lays it all out for you and it’s 100% FREE! You will learn how to engage your deep core and your pelvic core, workout with 5 simple moves that you can do at home and there is also some nutritional advice in there too. Click here for your FREE copy!
5. Work with a trainer who is qualified to work with prenatal and postnatal moms. Many trainers are certified and offer mom and baby programs, yes, but it doesn’t mean that they understand the unique physical and emotional needs that new moms have.
6. Assess yourself for Diastasis Recti (aka ab separation) Diastasis recti is the unnatural or larger than normal distance between the right and left sides of the rectus abdominis (the 6 pack muscles) often seen in pregnancy and postpartum women. As the pregnancy progresses, the linea alba (the connective tissue between the rectus abdominis) thins and stretches to accommodate the growing uterus.
For a video explanation and instructions on how you can assess yourself, click here. If you have any questions about your findings, shoot me an email by clicking here! I can help you to better understand what your assessment means and how you can approach treatment. Together, we will implement a plan of action to get you off to the best start in your core retraining.
MFB's Diastasis Self Assessment via YouTube
Retraining before you train is your best defence against pelvic floor and core related injuries. My hope for you is to get you to a point where you’re completely recovered and send you off to the programs you love most. If you love soccer, I want you to play without any embarrassing mishaps and if you love running, I want you to continue with training for your next marathon without the risk of a pelvic organ prolapse. Heck, I plan to go back to CrossFit myself when the time is right. I LOVE high intensity training!