CrossFit and Strength Training in Pregnancy and Postpartum with Karlie CauseyDec 14, 2022
Karlie is the co-founder of Jen & Keri, a former collegiate athlete, and a long-time wellness professional. With over 20 years of experience in fitness she is on a mission to empower postpartum athletes to reclaim their identity beyond motherhood! Tune in as Karli and Dr. Alicia chat all about strength training in pregnancy and postpartum!
The Tenets of Training
The first thing to consider when contemplating strength training or any kind of exercise in pregnancy is that whatever you were doing before pregnancy, you can keep doing during pregnancy. Keep in mind that with each passing week and trimester, modifications may be required and energy levels will rise and fall. Exercise that you enjoyed before pregnancy will continue being beneficial, not only for your physical but mental health!
In the first trimester, not a whole lot is changing in the body that requires modifications to most exercises themselves, though you may notice lower energy levels and nausea that may impede the process. Keep in mind that during this time you’re not necessarily looking to make gains, but rather maintain, work the cardiovascular system, and keep strength especially around the pelvis, glutes, and core.
Modifications and entire elimination of some exercises might become necessary in the second trimester. Exercises that require flexion of the core such as sit-ups or planks should be modified - but with the right modifications the same outcomes can be achieved! Some women can keep holding tension through their abdominal muscles during pregnancy while others can't, which is why an evaluation with a physiotherapist or sports chiropractor can be very helpful. Keep in mind that any precautions taken now are with the aim of aiding your rehabilitation after birth. Most exercises are not dangerous to you or baby, and core exercises can still be done, just modified so they don’t flex down or “crunch.” Exercises such as the pole press allow you to work the internal and external obliques without crunching down. Remember that in pregnancy, the hormone relaxin loosens ligaments, so our muscles do a little extra work holding us together and stable.
In the third trimester, the rule of maintenance and no gains holds especially true. Do not try lifting more than 70%-80% of your max. Relaxin is working on every joint in the body, so everything may feel a little enlarged and less “consolidated.” Tune in to today’s episode for some exercise recommendations for the third trimester! This is also a good time to begin work preparing you for postpartum. Thoracic opening exercises, opening up the upper back and shoulders, can be so helpful as breastfeeding or holding your baby can force you to be rounded forward for long periods of time.
Breath exercises, though they may seem slow and boring, can provide some of the greatest benefits for women postpartum. Not only do they encourage a slow rehabilitation by engaging your core, they also encourage relaxation and improved mental health. The parasympathetic nervous system, which plays an important role in heart rate, encouraging calm and relaxation, is activated during deep belly breathing and can help with our ability to cope with the stress and the many changes and difficulties of the postpartum period.
And last but not least - don’t jump back into strenuous exercising too quickly as it can cause injury and provide more setbacks than advances! When you are ready to start, consider working with a pelvic physiotherapist or guided classes such as Karlie's 8 Week Postpartum Rehab Course! And consider using supportive and non-irritating undergarments such as the Jen & Keri Nursing & Pumping Sports Bra!
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