In both my clinical practice as a Pilates-based pelvic health PT and my virtual health coaching practice as an integrative women’s health coach, the number one reason why women seek my services is to return to exercise postpartum…safely…and sustainably…without any nasty side effects.
That’s not too much to ask for, right?!
I completely commiserate with them too. Exercise and movement is crucial for not just our physical well-being, but also our mental and emotional well-being. All too often, life feels like a pressure cooker and when we are able to exercise, it helps clear our minds and bodies of stagnant energy and we feel SO much better overall.
Frequently though, barriers exist when trying to fit routine exercise into each week. For busy moms, I see three consistent barriers that prevent them in returning to the exercise routine that they are desperate to return to:
- Lingering pain (pelvis, hips, low back, or otherwise) – and hence, fear/uncertainty that exercise will cause more pain/tissue damage.
- Not enough energy.
- Not enough time.
When these three barriers exist, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and just not do anything (which doesn’t solve anything).
Specifically when my health coaching clients present with these concerns, together as a team we zoom out and assess the client’s unique and individual drivers behind what’s causing their pain or what’s really causing them to not have the time nor the energy to commit to their desired exercise routine.
Example statements I hear….
“I’m just not sleeping well, and I don’t have the energy to exercise. I’m up late catching up the day’s work and getting up early to exercise is out the question. Then, in the afternoon, I’m dragging just to get through the day.”
“I’ve been seeing a PT and the exercises really helped at first, but I can’t seem to stick with the home program. I either get bored or I get too busy and fall off the wagon. I feel like I’ve plateaued. And then the pain in my right hip just lingers. It’s just a recurring cycle of frustration.”
“I just feel chronically stressed and anxious. Exercise tends to rev me up, and I don’t get that mental release that everyone else talks about. I feel wired but tired all the time.“
These are such valid statements/concerns, and they require further investigation. Now, because each postpartum woman and her story are unique, this is a process to unwrap, unravel, rebuild, and restore (sustainably). And it requires patience. This is when we take an expanded vision of postpartum support and recovery and consider other body systems that require some attention, especially when helping Mom return to exercise safely and sustainably. We learn about HER full body systems and life circumstances, and we see what’s out of balance and what’s preventing HER from moving forward. It’s such an amazing process!
So, take a minute and zoom out. Picture your own body, mind, life circumstances, and barriers.
Are you getting the sleep or rest required to support an exercise routine? Are you over-committing yourself and ‘yes’ to everything to where you can’t find the time to exercise? Are you supporting your nervous system and tapping in your rest/digest system so that way you can have the energy to build an exercise routine? Are you eating nourishing foods that sustain your energy and support your muscles, bones, and other body systems?
If you’re being challenged by similar concerns and circumstances – consider an individualized full systems approach. It just might change your world….
Wishing you whole health,
Kelsea Cannon, PT, DPT, PRPC, WHC