“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Every runner knows that to be fast, having a strong core is absolutely essential. Even though it is still a little early and yesterday’s doctor appointment shows that Baby Key is not “in the process” yet, I still want to have a plan for starting the process of regaining my core strength immediately after he is born.
Thanks to a little protein hormone called relaxin, in addition to my growing belly, my hips and pelvis have also widened. I am not terribly happy about that, but luckily there are ways to help get my body back on the road to recovery as soon as possible after the baby arrives. However, you can also use relaxin to your advantage. In the 6-8 weeks post-partum, your body is still producing this hormone, and here are certain products that, if used in this time frame, can help you “put your body back together” in a safe way.
Note: I am aware that some readers may feel that my methods could possibly be considered extreme or unnecessary, but please remember that this is MY body and this is MY plan. What works for me may or may not work for you. The use of these products is not purely for vanity reasons in wanting to “look” like my pre-pregnancy self, but more about regaining muscle control and feeling strong again.
Immediately after the baby is born, I plan to start wearing the Belly Bandit Bamboo. I have done a lot of research about this product and from what I can tell, it seems to be the softest and most comfortable abdominal binder. In addition to helping shrink the belly, waist, and hips, the Belly Bandit also supports the upper body while breastfeeding and gently persuades the abdominal muscles to move back together. It also stabilizes the pelvic floor and supports the spine. I plan to wear this all of the time, unless I am exercising or doing an activity that would cause me to sweat.
In concept, this is a similar product to the abdominal binder, except that it is for the hips. Stabilizing and returning pelvic joints to their pre-pregnancy position will allow me to get back to running sooner. In using the hip stabilizers, the goal is to help turn my hip sockets completely back forward in to the correct position (the legs-turned-out pregnancy waddle is not a myth, my friends!) so that returning to running is as easy as possible. Since it is a softer material, I plan to wear this during the day.
Break out the big guns! See those laces? This contraption ain’t no joke. Conceptually, this product is similar to the ShrinxHips except that it seems to provide a bit more binding action. The reviews I have read about this product completely prepare me for this to be uncomfortable. However, the reviews also so that it really works. It seems that it is easiest to put when there are two sets of hands available, so I plan to wear this one at night.
I have not completely decided on a brand or style for a compression tank, so for this, my options are still open. When I am able to return to light/moderate exercise, I will remove the Belly Bandit and wear a compression tank. This will give me a bit more flexibility in my core and allow my muscles to regain strength while still being supported. I have seen a few different styles that I like and am even considering one that I recently saw at Wal-Mart.
As soon as I am given the green light to move past light/moderate exercise and onto true core strengthening, here are some of the exercises I plan to squeeze in my day…you know, with all that free time that I will have having just had a baby and all. (I get points for being ambitious, yes?)
I have a true love/hate relationship with core exercises but I know I need to do them. The #PlankADay plan (and then progressing on to the #PlanAnHour) is manageable and planks can be done anywhere. I really have no excuse not to do this.
Back and Side Hyperextensions
There is nothing in the world that removes the dreaded muffin-top faster than hyperextensions. A while back I worked with a running coach and he had me do these to strengthen my lower abs and back and I was AMAZED at how much stronger my body looked and felt. I will absolutely be incorporating this into my post-partum core recovery plan.
P90X Ab Ripper
Luckily, we already own the P90X system, so this will be a matter of popping in the DVD and committing the 15 minutes to the program. Personally, I think Tony Horton is incredibly corny but there is no doubt in my mind that his programs, when followed properly, WORK. Having done the P90X program before, I know that it is hard and intense and I fully expect to not be able to do half of the exercises on my first several attempts. But, I plan to keep working at it.
Since I am a total amateur yogi, I plan on hitting up the free classes on Saturday mornings offered by my local lululemon athletica showroom. I figure that some yoga is better than no yoga and since they rotate teachers from different studios, maybe I will find one that I like.
So, there is the plan. It seems extensive, but I really think I can manage it. I know I have lofty goals and that all of these good intentions may go right out the window when I realize that breastfeeding, washing onesies, and getting some shut-eye are more important, but at least I have a plan.
What did YOU (or your spouse, partner, etc.) do post-partum to help strengthen your/her core again? If you are currently expecting, what is YOUR plan?