5 of the worst postpartum exercises + what you can do instead
I don’t know about you guys, but the first time I went through it, I felt confused during the postpartum period about what to do. This is a huge reason why I started researching like crazy, and started working on the post baby bod plan. So many people told me what NOT to do, but didn’t give me any options for things I could do instead. For example, I knew sit-ups were probably a bad idea right away, but I wanted safe options to substitute in my own workouts and classes.
Over the past 5+ years, I’ve learned so much about prenatal and postpartum fitness, and am excited to share this with all of you. It’s important to remember to check with your doctor before making any fitness changes and honor your body. Our bodies will tell us what they need; it’s up to us to listen.
I thought I’d share a little list with you of some of the worst exercises you could do in the immediate postpartum period (after you’re cleared to work out again), and what to do instead.
1) Sit-ups or crunches.
Why this isn’t a great choice right now: Sit-ups and crunches can cause intra-abdominal pressure, and put stress on the linea alba (the connective tissue that stretches as the belly expands). While everything is working to heal back together, it’s a better bet to call these off.
A great modification option: toe drops and heel slides.
2) Full planks.
Why this isn’t a great choice right now: this exercise can put a lot of stress on the linea alba, which can make diastasis recti (abnormal levels of ab separation) worsen or prevent it from healing.
A great modification option: cat/cow or spinal balance. Once you start to regain core strength, you can try some modified planks and make sure that you don’t feel stress or pressure on the midline of the abdomen.
3) Overhead resistance or dumbbell exercises.
Why this isn’t a great choice right now: these can put downward pressure on the pelvic floor, during a time where everything is working to heal up and in.
A great modification option: keep the lighter weights at chest height or lower. For example, if you want to do shoulders, try upright rows or lateral raises instead of overhead presses. For triceps, instead of overhead triceps extensions, do bent-over triceps extensions.
4) HIIT training.
Why this isn’t a great choice right now: since HIIT is an advanced training option, it’s not one that we want to start to jump right back into after we’re cleared to exercise again (even though I know, it’s really tempting). The impact can cause pressure on our pelvic floors (which are still weak and healing from birth) and the cardiovascular workload can be too high to jump back into. It’s smarter to work your way up to consistent moderate endurance training before jumping into intervals.
A great modification option: walk, walk, walk, walk. Put your headphones in with an awesome podcast, strap baby into his/her stroller, and go for a stroll. Focus on working up your duration (up to 30 minutes, most days of the week) before you start to add in intensity (speed drills or hill training).
5) Wide heavy squats.
Why this isn’t a great choice right now: These can also put downward pressure on the pelvic floor. After the birth, relaxin is still present in the body, which can make us more susceptible to over-stretching and injury.
A great modification option: Hip raises for the win. These will still challenge your glutes and encourage core strength, while facilitating healing.
So tell me, friends: what did you do postpartum that felt amazing?? For me, the simple acts of getting dressed in real human clothes and feeling sunshine on my skin from being outside worked wonders.
If you have any questions about the post baby bod plan, please email me. I’ll be happy to help and let you know if I think it’s a good fit for ya.
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