During and after pregnancy, the mother and her body go through a number of changes. Soon after the baby is born, most moms want to get back in shape and shed some baby weight. Unfortunately, there exist many unsafe resources that offer training and bootcamps to “get mom’s back their old bodies.” It is important to realize that the body may not be exactly the same as it used to be due to the intense physical changes that have taken place.. However, a woman’s body is fully capable of regaining a new, healthy level of strength and overall wellness.
The core is the primary area of the body to go through extreme changes during pregnancy; therefore, it is important to understand the four elements that make up the core. First, the diaphragm is a skeletal muscle that aids in respiration and works directly with the pelvic floor. During inhalation, the diaphragm contracts and moves downward. During exhalation, it stretches out and moves upward. Next, the transverse abdominis are the deepest abdominal layer, running horizontal and protecting the lumbar spine (low back), acting almost like a girdle. Third, the multifidus muscles are grouped along the spine, running from the cervical spine to the sacrum. The superficial muscle group (closest to the skin surface) helps keep the spine straight, while the deep muscle group helps to stabilize the spine. The more this muscle is strengthened, the less likely a person is to have low back pain. The last of the core four, the pelvic floor, is a group of muscles, nerves, tendons, blood vessels, ligaments, and connective tissue in the pelvis. Both women and men have this support system for the pelvic organs.
One major core condition that takes place during pregnancy is called diastasis recti abdominis. This is when the rectus abdominis separates into two sections on either side of the linea alba, which is a fibrous band running vertically down the center of the anterior abdominals between the two rectus abdominal muscles. It is usually noticeable after delivery and in most cases will begin to heal itself within the first eight weeks with corrective exercises. Some of the symptoms associated with diastasis are low back pain, pelvic or sacroiliac joint pain, incontinence, and increased risk of injury. If unsafe exercises are prescribed, it can make the separation worse and/or slow the healing process.
When postnatal women decide it’s time to return to an exercise program, it is extremely important to perform safe and appropriate corrective exercises. One of the best exercises for regaining core strength, more specifically the pelvic floor, is the pelvic tilt. To perform this movement, the woman should lie on her back with knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. During the exhale, the low back should be pressed against the floor and the pelvis should tilt toward the direction of the head. It should feel as if the belly button is being drawn to the spine and floor. This is also a safe exercise because it does not place pressure on the abdominal wall in a prone (downward, facing the floor) position.
Another safe and effective exercise is the lying hip thrust. This is excellent for strengthening and shaping the glutes, which help to support the pelvis, pelvic floor, and the low back. In addition, the hip thrust will also actively engage the hamstrings, quadriceps, and adductor muscles, resulting in improved strength of the entire thigh. Start by lying on the back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor about shoulder width apart, and arms resting at the sides. Press through your heels, activate the glutes, and lift the hips off the floor. Your weight should rest on your heels and your upper back. Extend your hips until they form a straight line with your knees and shoulders. Make sure the end range of motion comes from the hips, squeezing the glutes together at the top of the movement. Hold the contraction for 1-2 seconds and then return to the starting position. This exercise requires no equipment, does not take up much space, and can be performed anywhere.
There are a variety of appropriate exercises that can be performed post pregnancy; be sure to find a professional trainer who can safely guide the exercise program along. The convenience factor is an added bonus! The majority of exercises can be performed in the comfort of your own home with little or no equipment needed, all while keeping an eye on the baby! This will make for happy and healthy Mom!
Author: Alex Barrett
From the Roots Fitness President, Exercise Specialist, Certified Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer
The Death of Good Posture, The Birth of New Markets
The word chair comes from the Latin language word cathedra (Greek kathedra), which is derived from the contraction of kata, for “down,” and hedra, for “to sit.” The related word, “throne,” arrives in the English language from the Indo-European base word dher, which means “to hold or support.” Indeed for much of its history - from classical times to the time of the pharaohs - the chair was reserved for royalty, while ordinary folk sat on backless chests, benches, or stools.
It seems that since humankind first stood up to see over the tall Savannah grasses, they have been looking for a place to sit back down. As early migratory peoples settled into domesticated lifestyles, a seat that elevated the body away from the floor came to represent the civilized person. Elevating humans, humans of elevated status especially, have long been associated with the history of chairs.
In most ways, humans are brilliant for having created chairs, and stupid for continuing to use them. The centralization of urban trade centers and governments over time introduced chairs to the general population, eventually resulting in today’s highly sedentary American culture. Global studies show, on average, we sit 7.7 hours a day, and some results estimate people sit up to 15 hours a day.
By the simple act of constructing an artificial place to sit, humans began the long tradition of distinguishing themselves from the animal world. With elevated and distinguished status come the trials and tribulations of physiological and biomechanical impediments other uncivilized animals have the pleasure of foregoing.
Among these include cardiovascular disease and obesity, not to mention high blood pressure, upper crossed and lower crossed syndromes and back pain, thoracic outlet syndrome, shoulder and neck discomfort, and various forms of tendonitis.
Dead-butt syndrome also makes the list of chair-induced conundrums. The literal pain in the butt you feel when your gluteus medius is inflamed, dead-butt syndrome comes as a result of sitting for extended periods of time and jumping straight into physical activity without a proper warm-up.
Physical therapists, exercise specialists, motor learning researchers, and other biomechanists pride themselves on improving body movement and function. Those working in the field of ergonomics look to improve people’s work environment efficiency. When applied properly, ergonomic analysis, design, and applications have been proven effective in the corporate battle against physical white collar pain.
Others market a different approach. Instead of using our bipedal features and magnificently designed hips, we have created new markets to fill our need for better chairs. From the Zenergy to the Swopper to the Wobble – we as a culture have worked to fix a problem with materials that will likely create future problems.
As a kind public service announcement, I think it’s important people understand the following: the body’s purpose is not solely its transportation service the head. It is capable of movement. It was born for change.
Ass to Grass...Why It’s Important
In a comprehensive piece describing the deep squat's good, bad, and not so ugly, physical therapist Aaron Swanson sites a plethora of deep-squat resources. He includes in his article a diagram based on several studies illustrating varying degrees of knee flexion and their associated forces and EMG activity.
But What About...
With this said, it is vitally important to remember that deep squatting is not for everyone.
Importantly, with decreased shear force comes increased compressive force due to the inverse relationship that exists between the two. Proper implementation of progressive overload and the SAID principles (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) should diminish the possible negative effects caused by their force relationship. Still, it could pose a problem to some.
Furthermore, as Swanson puts it, “Everyone was born to squat, but not everyone has grown to squat. This is due to the body adapting to life’s imposed demands.”
People with mobility restrictions and certain pathologies should not perform such movements. Certainly the little gentleman pictured was born to deep squat. So was the fifty year old gentleman corporate worker; yet sitting at a desk for hours upon hours each week has undone his ability to do so properly. Incorporating such movements into ones programs undoubtedly depends on individual goals and abilities.
Your invitation to take a seat: the 30/30 challenge
Maybe you are wondering how to start implementing this information into your daily routine. Movement is the organic solution, and practice makes better. Try working on it with the so-simple-yet-so-hard 30/30 challenge!
...Kick Up the Challenge
Try implementing some of Ido Portal’s squat and flexibility routine into your workout regimen for a greater challenge.
Author: Julia Anthony
B.S. Exercise Specialist, CSCS, NASM CPT
The following is an attempt to connect interdisciplinary phenomenon strung together by the common thread of human life and its importance. All lives matter. These words are intended for every body; every body put on this earth with a brain whose primary purpose for all intents and purposes is movement.
We live in a scary world. A world where, at any second, life could instantly be forever changed for the worst. Beliefs and emotions run high no matter history’s source, though the topics of discussion may differ. Along with the commonality of high emotion exists the use of graphs. Pictures often provide a more tangible way for many to understand concepts and large numbers; a way of communicating that sometimes helps break down barriers.
The Question & Problem At Hand…Figures and Facts
In light of recent events, I feel there is no better time to further debunk ignorance, especially as it concerns health. How do deaths caused by American obesity compare to other causes of death concerning our nation – how can we make tangible the severity that is the issue of (poor) health?
A challenge from the President, in the aftermath of yet another horrible shooting, resulted in the creation of the following graph. The data illustrated and taken from the Centers for Disease Control is clearly labeled in the graph’s heading.
A graph representing the number of American deaths caused by terrorism versus those caused by gun violence; eye-opening to some, though many already had an inkling this was the case deep down somewhere. Now for the next part.
Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, we compared these values to the number of American deaths caused by heart disease. Such a comparison has already been alluded to to some extent. In an October 2015 article, Wired Magazine compared American gun and terrorist deaths using the following chart. Clearly, the number of deaths caused by heart disease is astonishingly high, as illustrated in the graph’s upper right hand corner.
This is not enough, however. Taking things a step further, how do the number of American deaths caused by obesity compare to human loss caused by these two acts of human violence? Creating such a comparison would be quite challenging.
Obesity itself is never listed as someone’s cause of death. Instead, the complications of obesity, such as heart disease or diabetes, are blamed for a person's death. Research suggests that one’s risk for a number of serious health problems multiplies significantly with obesity status. Eight obesity-related diseases in particular account for 75 percent of healthcare costs in the US:
Type 2 Diabetes
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Cancer (especially breast, endometrial, colon, gallbladder, prostate and kidney
The first four diseases are associated with metabolic syndrome, a common factor in obesity. Several other diseases affect metabolic dysfunction, including NAFLD and PCOS. And many more could be added to this list: obesity increases your risk for asthma, sleep disorders (including sleep apnea), depression, pregnancy complications, and poor surgical outcomes. So, compiling accurate data to create a comparison between death rates caused by firearms, terrorism, and obesity would be a challenge..yet not impossible.
Let’s borrow data from the CDC Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report - specifically, information pertaining to American deaths caused by cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Do the hokey-pokey, mix it all about, and BAM!
Well now, it would appear obesity-related deaths highly outnumbers those caused by both firearms and terrorist attacks. Importantly, the obesity related data above includes diabetes mellitus as a whole. In adults, type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Though the illustrated data does not differentiate between deaths caused Type 1 and Type 2, respectively, any changes this might produce within the depiction would prove negligible.
Confused? Such a large data range warrants a second illustration – one that better depicts the concern at hand.
The same message regarding obesity and its life-threatening effects is clear. Importantly, the data illustrated in the pie chart suggests that terrorism’s show voice trumps its statistical worth. Certainly, show voice is a topic for a different article. The author would like to make the following very clear: terrorism is a concern and by no means carries a zero value. All lives matter. With this said, lives lost because of obesity and its complications also matter and are newsworthy.
Conclusion … No Sh*t
Conclusion to the intrigue: Obesity is a problem, and a serious problem at that. Let’s be honest, you probably already knew this. Maybe the graphs and charts put things into better prescriptive – or, a more staggering perspective.
With all this buzz talk of health and wellness that permeates our culture, how is it this isn’t a headline news? Why are the media’s boogeymen stories, along with whatever unembellished statistics and stories the media does pursue, overshadowing this great terrorist at large within our nation – the one that exists to some degree in every corner of our culture.
Discussion … A Piece-Meal Villain
The multifaceted obesity blame game is complex to say the least. Certainly, technological advances have resulted in more screen time and less physical movement for adults and children, alike. Ironically, a generation of parents fixated on being buff is raising a generation of physical weaklings. Two-thirds of American children can’t pass a basic physical. According to President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, 40% of boys and 70% of girls ages six to seventeen can’t manage more than one pull-up; and 40% show early signs of circulation problems.
Also to blame is our culture’s relationship with nature. As Richard Louv explains in The Last Child in the Woods, “Though we often see ourselves as separate from nature, humans are also part of that wildness.” Cultural introspection as it relates to nature will require reform within the education system, pharmaceutical industry, and the fields of environmentalism and law.
A recent publication in The British Journal of Sports Medicine places carbohydrates, not physical inactivity, behind the surge in obesity. While regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers by at least 30 percent, physical activity cannot undo a poor diet. Typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars; refined grains; sodium; and saturated fat. "Healthy choice must become the easy choice," say the study’s experts.
Public misperception due to dodgy corporate marketing undoubtedly plays a role in obesity’s terror. Various sources describe the "public relations tactics of the food industry as 'chillingly similar to those of Big Tobacco,' which deployed denial, doubt, confusion and 'bent scientists' to convince the public that smoking was not linked to lung cancer."
Connecting these and other culprits typically suggests dollar signs hold together this terror’s sticky web.
So which villain is to blame? – all of them and more.
A Suggested Resolution…A Reformation Movement
I (and, I believe, most Americans) sometimes find myself operating in the Generation M spirit of multitasking in the name of progress, linearity, extrinsic acceptance and entrepreneurial pursuit. With our freedom of choice and dogma culture come the diminished freedom to exist in a state of (hyper)awareness, the promotion of corporal-kinesthetic disconnectedness, and the dwindling of movement intelligence.
Working to create staked- out territories of blame serves as an ignorant and ultimately fruitless effort, albeit a place to start.Real systemic change will begin with the conjoining of two movements: a top-down movement stemming from scientific research and legislative statements expressing concern by health authorities; and a bottom-up movement born out of the pain and shortened lives caused by obesity.
Creativity expert Ken Robinson speaks of an educational reformation in which “we have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it's an organic process.”
The other war on terror – our nation’s battle with obesity and poor health – is an organic problem to its core. This home-grown terrorist is a living problem concerning human life, and the organic food and movement our bodies need to flourish.
The Bottom Line...
And now for the grand finale; the only question you as a reader really care about The age old WIIFM question: “What’s in it for me?” The answer to that question lives in the CDC’s numbers; in the pictures included in this piece of writing.
What’s in it for you … your life.
Louv, Richard. (2008). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books
Author: Julia Anthony
B.S. Exercise Specialist, CSCS, NASM CPT