How and when to get back to exercise after a C-section seems to be something that lots of you mums are looking for guidance on.
The NHS recommend to reintroduce things like exercise when you begin to feel comfortable which they say is usually at around 6 weeks. This will usually tie in with your 6-week check with your GP.
A C-Section is a major procedure and whilst you are beginning to be more active after 6 weeks, it’s extremely important that you are still very careful.
Think of this as similar to having a major operation on a knee or hip, you would need to go through a full rehabilitation routine before getting back to normal.
On your return home..
The NHS advice trying to remain mobile when you return home to avoid blood clotting. Initially this can just be short walks around your home but as you are able you can move these outdoors.
Pregnancy can weaken your pelvic floor muscles so the NHS also advice introducing pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen them again. You can do these daily, doing 10 sets of 10-second holds and 10 quick squeezes.
So once you’ve been given the go ahead what next?
Clapp and Cram explain that when returning to exercise following a C-section procedure “The deciding factor is pain…if it hurts, stop, and if it feels good, it’s probably safe to exercise.”
This seems like pretty good advice. Listen to your body, start light and stop or reduce what you are doing if you experience any discomfort. And if you are still unsure ask your doctor.
Which exercises should you start with?
Start with bodyweight exercises that are as safe as possible but also functional.
Functional means exercises that help with activities you do on a daily basis.
One of my favourite exercises is a seat squat
You simply stand up and sit down on a seat. This will get you using your leg muscles. This is functional in that you’ll be doing this movement multiple times a day so getting those muscles stronger will definitely help. You can adjust the height of the seat using cushions to make this easier or remove them to make it more difficult.
Try doing around 6-10 squats, sitting down to rest in between. Take as much rest as you feel you need. Once you feel able you can add more sets of these.
Another brilliant functional exercise is an elevated kneeling dumbbell row
You do this using one dumbbell at a time and have your arm elevated to take the pressure off your stomach and core muscles. It’s great for strengthening the muscles in your back but it’s functional because it will help prepare you for lifting things again. You can use a bottle or tin of beans if you don’t have a dumbbell.
Again do around 6-10 rows each arm and sit down to rest in between sets.
To reintroduce some core work you could start with a kneeling side plank
This is exactly like a regular side plank but rather than lifting from your feet you bend your legs and lift from your knees instead. You can try 5-10second holds and again just build up how long you hold for and how many sets you do.
These exercises are a great place to start then simply do more as you feel able. Start by doing more of each, whether that’s reps or sets.
Then slowly introduce more difficult exercises as you feel able. For example you could begin holding some light weights on your squats, progress your side planks so that you no longer need to do them kneeling. Just gradually and carefully begin to challenge yourself.
What about exercises to avoid?
Avoid anything too explosive like running and jumping
Avoid crunches, leg raises and front planks that will put too much strain on your abdominal area
Avoid lifting heavy weights and movements overhead
Don’t be afraid to get exercising again but just remember to be careful, keep everything pain free and if you are in any doubt at all see your doctor.
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