Having a baby can wreak all kinds of havoc on a mom’s body. From the long months of pregnancy and the experience of childbirth, all the way through breastfeeding and picking up your growing infant, there are continual changes and challenges putting pressure on your body frame.
That’s why it’s common for moms to experience physical weakness and muscular imbalance while pregnant and postpartum, such as with poor posture. To help understand what mothers can do to mitigate this experience, here’s a look at the importance of posture, along with ways to stretch, stabilize and strengthen your muscles.
Why Posture Matters
If you’re working out regularly, you might think your posture’s taken care of—but think again. The truth is, while exercise is important, it typically only accounts for a small portion of your day-to-day life. Even if you spend 45 minutes a day being intentionally active, for example, you’re still spending the vast majority of your time on autopilot.
The way you sit, stand and hold your body during the rest of the day has the biggest impact on your musculoskeletal system. If you’re typically sedentary, it’s common to be practicing compensatory, weakened and imbalanced posture that leads to misalignment and pain. To help your body fully recover from pregnancy, childbirth and the demands of caring for a baby, proper posture is key. This is why you have to make it a priority as a mom.
How to Improve Your Posture
There are many exercises and stretches that can help strengthen your core and improve your posture. The first step toward realizing their benefits, however, is to learn to stand properly, with the shoulder and hip stacked over the ankle in a straight, vertical line. Likewise, when sitting, your head, ribcage and pelvis should be balanced over both feet, and your feet should be balanced beneath your knees and hips. Draw yourself up while working at your desk. Avoid hunching over while you sit on the floor with your baby or prep for dinner. Practicing proper posture is a habit you can cultivate for better musculoskeletal health.
Additionally, here are four exercises specifically aimed at improving your pelvic and structural health as a mom:
Recommended in pregnancy for strengthening the pelvic muscles and preventing incontinence, Kegel exercises involve contracting the pelvic floor (“up and in”) for 10 seconds at a time, releasing and repeating.
To practice a chest opener, you stand up and stretch your arms around your sides to meet in back. Lock your fingers together and pull your arms away from your body gently, until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and release.
For the “Superman” stretch, lay flat on your stomach on the ground or an exercise mat. Stretch your arms out ahead of you. Simultaneously lift your arms, head and legs off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds before lowering.
This classic workout starts with you on all fours, back straight. You simultaneously raise one arm (straight ahead of you) and the opposite leg.
As the above tips illustrate, when it comes to your physical posture and health, there’s a lot you can do to mitigate back pain and postural problems. Staying active during pregnancy and following a good postpartum workout plan are both good strategies. Likewise, learning to sit properly and practicing posture-boosting stretches are key. So, if you’ve heard that the dreaded “mom slump” is inevitable, think again! Use the tips in this post to combat a hunched and scrunched posture — and help yourself feel better in the process.
Author bio: Ian Feurtado is Fitness and Wellness Director for Metro Physical & Aquatic Therapy, Long Island’s premier physical therapy company. Feurtado has been with Metro for more than seven years and has helped thousands of patients with his specialized exercise programs.