There are many aches and pains involved with being a new mom. I started having chronic lower back pain about 9 months after my son was born. I want to share more about this because (1) it happens to the “fittest” of us and (2), while it may be typical it is not normal. In other words, you do NOT have to suffer through postpartum pain, and physical therapy can help.
I couldn’t stand up straight.
J-dub was about 14 months old when I realized I had a bigger problem than just “new mommy pains.” The painfully sore wrists from constantly cradling a newborn had gone away with time. So, I figured lower back soreness from all the weird body contortions involved in being a mom would resolve themselves as well. Not so much.
I was brushing my teeth and bent over to spit. I looked up and I realized my hips and shoulders weren’t square. I tried to stand up and realized my hips and shoulders were still offset. I tried to correct it. And I couldn’t. Because it hurt too bad. WTF?
I had tried to do core work on my own, but I was inconsistent. My normal exercises didn’t feel right. I got worse. Might be TMI but…it hurt my back just trying to wipe my own butt on the toilet. So yeah, my “Activities of Daily Living” were totally effected.
I know better.
I’m a personal trainer and running coach. I preach core strength to my runners and I know how to lift things properly (even babies). Which is why I am sharing this with you. Because even though I knew better, I still held my son on my hip. I still lowered him in to the crib, compromising my lower back, because…well, there is literally no mechanically sound way to lower a sleeping baby over a crib rail. Or, God-forbid, the pack-n-play.
Because of utter exhaustion and other times just plain ‘ol arrogance (I’m strong enough to do this), I frequently committed form felonies. I could run without pain and do planks, but I hadn’t truly dealt with all the inner core weakness and instability leftover from pregnancy.
I look(ed) fine.
Well, that is…I looked fine until I couldn’t stand up straight. But I had lost the weight. I was running and regaining muscle definition. On the outside it seemed like I had my body back.
The truth was, I had lost touch with my body. Once I got into physical therapy, I realized I had lost some of my neuromuscular awareness, or brain-to-muscle communication. My proprioception was off. My core muscles all felt different somehow and I didn’t have the control I was used to having. I used to know my body really well. Pregnancy changed that, big time.
Now…I needed help to relearn what good form felt like. I could’ve felt like a failure as a fitness coach and been embarrassed and tried to fix it myself. Instead I chose to get professional help. Sometimes coaches need coaches. I needed accountability. I needed feedback from someone who could help me reconnect with my body.
How Physical Therapy helped.
So that’s the back store that sets up this video where I take you into my local clinic, Ability Physical Therapy. First, we learn a little about the skeletal issues I was having. Then, Emily Wood has me demonstrate 6 different exercises that work the inner abdominal muscles and pelvic floor.
After about 8 weeks of physical therapy, my pain was gone. I was standing up straight, able to wipe my own butt, bend over to tie my shoes, lift my foot up onto my bathroom counter to clip my toenails…all those things that were so painful just two months before.
I had also fixed some of my bad habits. I was taking the time to lift my kid better and not carry him on my hip. I even changed things like how I got into our SUV; instead of hiking my hip up, trying to lift myself into the car in one move, I now take the extra step on the running board so I can lower myself into the seat. Those daily, repetitive actions are so important.
I had a lot of motivation to get my core issues corrected this last summer. Not just to get rid of the pain and regain my strength postpartum. I was anticipating a major abdominal surgery in August (read about that here) and knew I couldn’t go into that with a weak and unstable core. Now that we’re on the other side of that surgery, I am starting again with basic pelvic tilts and regaining core strength. However, I am so thankful I got the help I needed before my abdominal muscles got cut in half.
Thank you to…
Ability Physical Therapy! Thank you to Andrew, the PT who treated me most of the time. Thank you to Emily, for being in my video and sharing her expertise. Thank you to my friend Davita who encouraged me to get into the Ability Physical Therapy to begin with.
Questions for you:
- What inner abdominal exercises do you do? Or do you?
- How do you check your form to make sure you’re doing exercises correctly?
- Mommies – what struggles did you have after pregnancy?
- Did you know most people do kegels incorrectly?