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Foot, ankle or knee pain post pregnancy?

posted by Joan Palmer

As a Buggyfit instructor, I see a lot of new mums every week. Occasionally, new mums will come to me complaining of pain in their knee, ankle or foot which has only occurred since pregnancy and beyond.

Quite often, these pains can develop due to the changes in posture that occur during pregnancy. There are changes in posture throughout the body, but one of the areas that could be contributing to knee, ankle or foot pain is a tightness in the calf muscle due to changes in foot posture. You may have noticed that your foot has become a little wider and your toes more splayed along with a loss of the arch on the inside of your foot causing you to roll in on the foot a little more when standing still.

The actual cause of this problem can stem from changes much further up the body which would need to be assessed and addressed to solve the problem (all of which I can help you with) but in the meantime there is something you can do to help alleviate some of the problem.

To help alleviate the tightness in the calf muscle, you can start with some simple stretching exercises. You may have stretched your calf muscle before an exercise class, but what is important now is that to make any difference to the muscle and how you stretch it, you need to try and keep your back foot in the stretch below as straight as possible, pointing directly forward.

Calf

With a tightness in the muscle you will be inclined to want to keep your foot turned out. You may need to stretch both sides but the foot that is at the back with the straight knee, is the one you are stretching the calf on.

Calf

Stretch 2 (above) is a general stretch for the whole calf area where you stand on your bottom step holding on to the bannister, and let both heels drop down below the step. With both of these stretches, you need to take it to the point where you just start to feel a pull and hold it for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times. It’s best to stretch when you are warm so after a bath or shower is a good option or after a walk or some exercise. Remember, the stretch may not fix things for you but it is a good starting point. To get to the bottom of any issues associated with this then please get in touch joan@mumsfit.co.uk

Get out for your free ingredient!

posted by Joan Palmer

blackberries

What could be better than getting something for free!! You can get yourself out into the countryside and pick some blackberries.

Not only are you getting something for free but you’ll be benefitting from some fresh air. Maybe you’ll have a good walk to get to some or even go on a bike! Whatever your mode of transport here is a recipe that can utilise your hard work and it’s sugar free! This has been taken from the Good Things magazine.

  • 50g of Blackberries
  • 10 Medjool dates
  • 50g of desiccated coconut plus extra for rolling
  • 200g of porridge oats (Use less if you like your energy balls to be a bit gooey!)
  • 1 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon

In a food processor blend the oats until the consistency of flour. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until fully combined.

Roll the mixture into 16 balls and roll each ball in desiccated coconut until fully coated.

Place in the freezer for half an hour then then place in the fridge until serving.

These will last 2 weeks in the fridge.

Let me know how you get on.

Aubergine Chocolate Brownies

posted by Joan Palmer

Gluten Free Banana Bread

This recipe has been taken from ‘The clever guts diet – how to revolutionise your body from the inside out’ by Dr Michael Mosley.

  • 1 medium aubergine (200g) peeled and diced
  • 150g dark chocolate (Min 70% cocoa) broken up
  • 60g coconut oil
  • 60g soft pitted dates, diced
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 80g ground almonds
  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees C

Steam aubergine 15-20mins until soft. When it’s ready place it in a bowl with the chocolate and coconut oil. The warm aubergine will melt the oil and chocolate.

Add the chopped dates and salt and place in a food processor. Blitz the mixture until smooth. It should now be cool enough to add the eggs and baking powder. Blitz again for another minute or so and then mix in the ground almonds.

Spread the mixture in a lined baking tray (I used 20cm square tin) and bake for about 20 mins. It is cooked when a knife comes out clean.

It does say that you could make cupcakes, divide mixture in a 12 hole cupcake tray and bake for 15-20mins.

5 things you can do daily to look after your pelvic floor and bladder habits.

posted by Joan Palmer

  1. Try to drink at least 1.5-2 litres of water a day.  This will help to reduce the likelihood of constipation.  Constipation is an issue with the pelvic floor as any straining motion will cause you to bear down on the pelvic floor which could over time lead to pelvic organ prolapse. 
  2. Don’t hold your breath when lifting.  If you hold your breath this will increase the pressure within the intra-abdominal cavity which causes downward pressure on the pelvic floor which again could lead to pelvic organ prolapse.  Think about how you breathe on lifting your baby/toddler, the buggy in and out of the car and those bags of groceries.
  3. Don’t hover over the toilet seat, sit down properly!  If you hover, you won’t be able to release your pelvic floor muscles correctly and that in turn will mean you can’t empty your bladder fully. It also means that your pelvic floor muscles aren’t able to work in the correct sequence and if this happens a lot they will develop bad habits. 
  4. Keep active!  By keeping active you are encouraging your muscles to work, including your pelvic floor.  If you lead a sedentary lifestyle then try to factor in some regular upright active exercise, even if it’s just walking to get your muscles back into action.  Many muscles around the abdominal and upper leg region work in conjunction with your pelvic floor so all areas will get a work out.
  5. Don’t visit the toilet ‘just in case’. Your bladder is itself a muscle so if it is continually emptying too soon the muscle isn’t being worked to its full capacity.  You can retrain the bladder to hold more urine before you need to empty it by making sure that you really need to go when you do.  You should only need to visit the toilet 5-7 times during the daytime. 

What happened to your pelvic floor during pregnancy?

posted by Joan Palmer

I wonder if any of you had even given a thought to your pelvic floor before you became pregnant.  It may have become a more familiar area early on in pregnancy when there is a massive surge in hormones that make you visit the loo more!! For others it may have been later in the pregnancy when the baby is getting bigger and it seems to be squashing your bladder or even bouncing on it making your visits to the loo more frequent again. 

It really doesn’t matter when you first became aware of it, what matters now is that if your pelvic floor is an issue for you, you can do something about it and you are not alone in having this problem. 

For those of you that haven’t noticed any symptoms, that’s great but it is also worth being aware that your pelvic floor has been through a lot. Even for those of you that may have had a c section, you have still had all the hormonal changes of pregnancy that affect tissue quality and activity and you have still had the increasing weight of a baby sitting on the pelvic floor making it harder for it to function as every week of pregnancy goes by. 

The pelvic floor should be treated like other parts of the body that are out of action for a while due to for example injury or inactivity.  The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that have to work together to function and therefore need to rehabbed just like any other muscle in the body.  Just because we can’t see it, we shouldn’t ignore it and just because it’s ‘down there’ we shouldn’t be embarrassed!

As already mentioned, changes occur in the pelvic floor during pregnancy due to big surges in hormones.  Changes also occur due to big changes in posture that happen over the course of your pregnancy due to the baby growing.  Abdominal muscles stretch and weaken as do the gluteal muscles (the bottom muscles), the lower back can become very stiff as can the muscles in front of the hips.  These changes cause a change in the position of your pelvis and as a result of this, the pelvic floor ends up sitting in a relaxed position most of the time.  When muscles are in a relaxed position they are not in their optimum position to function and are therefore not working as well as they could be and hence problems develop.  Quite often these changes in posture continue post-delivery and therefore below optimum function of the pelvic floor continues.

Other changes can occur if you have a vaginal delivery.  As you know the pelvic floor muscles will have stretched a lot, with some assistance from hormonal changes.  As a result the muscle again is not going to be able to work optimally for a while and if it is not encouraged to work, it will continue to be lazy.  If there is any tearing of the pelvic floor muscles or if you have had an episiotomy then scar tissue will have formed.  Scar tissue that isn’t managed well during its recovery, will become thickened and then make any surrounding tissue difficult to function well.

All of these issues can be addressed and symptoms of the pelvic floor improved, with corrective posture exercise, functional corrective exercise and sometimes some soft tissue massage work on any of the muscles that changed during pregnancy.

If you are concerned that your pelvic floor isn’t working as it should be then please get in touch at joan@mumsfit.co.uk

You could also come along to a relaxed and informal evening that I am running with a Specialist women’s health physiotherapist at The Strand in Cheltenham Wednesday 12th July 7.45pm and find out all there is to know about looking after your pelvic floor.  If you would like to come along then book a ticket here http://www.mumsfit.co.uk/shop/pelvic-floor-with-pimms

Is there a tasty and healthy alternative to a bacon butty?

posted by Joan Palmer

This morning I took my girls to the Lido for the sunrise swim. Both girls are great swimmers and love the Lido so that wasn’t a problem but the early start was more of an issue. How did I get around this? I mentioned that we could have one of the Lido’s great bacon butties after the swim and then they were well up for it and I had no problem getting them out of bed at some ridiculous time in the morning!! We even stopped to pick up one of their friends.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with having a Lido butty every now and again but if I ate these on a regular basis, I know I would start to feel it round my middle! Here are the girls enjoying their well-deserved butty after the sunrise swim.

Bacon Butty

But is there a tasty, healthier option that wouldn’t matter if I ate it more regularly? I happened to find this recipe on the Merrymakers website and they look pretty good although I have yet to try one.

Merrymaker Cheese and Bacon low carb bread rolls

Bacon Butty

STUFF YOU NEED

  • 1 cauliflower cut into small florets then blended or grated (should be around 2½ - 3 cups)
  • 3 eggs whisked
  • 1 cup grated good quality cheese
  • 1 tbs. chia seeds
  • 1 tbs. coconut flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder (gluten free)
  • pinch of salt

TOPPINGS

  • 2 rashes (slices) of bacon chopped
  • 1.Extra cheese, however much you want!

NOW WHAT

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Use a food processor or blender to whiz the cauliflower, but don't turn it into mush.
  3. Use a tea towel to squeeze out excess liquid (super important, do not skip this step!).
  4. In a bowl add the cauliflower, egg, cheese, chia seeds, coconut flour, salt, baking powder and mix super well.
  5. It shouldn't be too soggy, if it is, add another tablespoon of coconut flour.
  6. Use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to form 6 balls. Pop them onto the baking tray and flatten.
  7. Top with chopped bacon and extra cheese.
  8. Cook for 25 minutes, check and cook for another 5 minutes.
  9. And now eat!

MERRYMAKER TIP

  1. The trick to this delish rolls is to squeeze out the liquid in the cauliflower. Just want to remind you... AGAIN! hehe! Enjoy!

Give it a go and let me know what you think.

The Berry Love Tonic!

posted by Joan Palmer

Love Berry Tonic

A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for a healthy alternative to ice cream. One of the ingredients was raspberries which is great as they are now in season and readily available. Now we are into June, Wimbledon season is fast approaching, strawberries are very abundant in the supermarkets or you could go and pick your own. Here is a recipe to take advantage of both raspberries and strawberries. The recipe is taken from one of Jason Vale’s books - over 100 delicious juices and smoothies. If you haven’t heard of Jason Vale, he is the guru of juicing.

  • ½ fresh medium pineapple
  • 1 handful of raspberries
  • 1 handful of strawberries
  • 4 ice cubes

Juice the pineapple and pour into the blender. Add the raspberries, strawberries and ice. Blend until creamy and smooth.

So why is it the love tonic? Along with many other nutrients, one of the main minerals found in these berries is zinc. Zinc is a key mineral to help boost libido. Enjoy your juice and have fun!!

A healthy ice cream alternative!

posted by Joan Palmer

Iec cream

Hot weather has arrived, and this means that when I pick up my girls from school, one of their first questions will be, ‘can we have an ice cream when we get home please?’

We are off to Weymouth next week for half term, there are going to be ice creams selling on every corner and I am sure my family will be consuming many of them!

It is a nice treat to have an ice cream when you are feeling hot, but with it containing plenty of sugar, is there a healthy alternative?

I have recently been introduced to the Merrymaker Sisters (themerrymakersisters.com) and they do have a very simple recipe for a healthy alternative so I thought I would share it with you.

Banana Raspberry Nice Cream (serves 2)

Ingredients

1 frozen banana (slice a ripe banana into a ziplock bag and place in freezer)

1 cup frozen raspberries

½ cup raw cashews

¼ cup coconut milk

1tsp 100% vanilla extract

Method

Place cashews, milk and vanilla into a blender and whizz until smooth (this may take several minutes). Add banana and raspberries and whizz again until smooth. Place in bowls and serve with toppings of chopped strawberries, chopped nuts or raw chocolate. Enjoy!

Try out this mid-afternoon energy snack!

posted by Joan Palmer

Toilet

I found this recipe on www.spoonfulofflavor.com and it was a big hit with the latest Holistic Core Restore® class participants. It’s very easy to make and you don’t need a big quantity to stop those afternoon hunger pangs!

Let me know what you think.

Ingredients

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup cashews

1 ½ cup Medjool dates, pitted (It is best to soak these for a few hours first)

Zest and juice from 3 key limes

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

Method

Add the almonds and cashews to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until nuts are finely chopped (but do not pulse too long, you do not want the nuts to turn into a paste). Add the dates, lime juice and zest. Pulse until the dates are finely chopped and the mixture starts to clump. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in coconut to coat outside of the balls. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Are you sitting comfortably?

posted by Joan Palmer

Toilet

I talked about this subject in a New Year newsletter, but as it was the topic we discussed at a recent Holistic Core Restore® class, I thought I would highlight it again, particularly as I was reminded once more of its importance whilst attending the latest Burrell Education Woman on Fire event earlier this month.

We are talking about the position that we sit to poop in! If you ever have problems with passing a bowel movement or have any issues with pelvic floor weakness then read on!

I wonder if you have ever considered the position you sit on the loo. You may have thought about it a little more after initially giving birth, as it may have been a bit more difficult to poop then. I still remember taking an hour to pass my first one after having my youngest daughter, because I had suffered a 3rd degree tear! The reason we are considering this is due to the impact it will be having on our pelvic floor.

Changes in posture, extra weight sitting on the pelvic floor during pregnancy, and then the trauma of giving birth will all have taken its toll on the pelvic floor, so sitting the wrong way on the loo to poo will not be helping this already difficult situation.

The optimum position to poop in is squatting. This is not something we do in this country to go to the loo, and the design of the modern toilet is not promoting this position. However, you can adapt how you sit on the modern toilet to still encourage relaxation of the pelvic floor which occurs in the squat position and therefore encourages the action of a bowel movement without strain on the pelvic floor, which if occurring regularly, can worsen or initiate pelvic floor problems of incontinence.

The picture above shows how just by adding a small stool under the feet to raise your knees up so they are higher than the hips and then leaning forward onto the thighs with a nice straight back will take you more in to a squat position. Give it a try with a children’s stool that they stand on to clean their teeth.

Of course what you put into your body is going to have an impact on how it comes out, but that is a subject on its own and I will talk about that next time; in the meantime think about your position.

If you are having issues with the pelvic floor and would like to know more how you can help look after your pelvic health and about signing up for the Holistic Core Restore® classes, you can read about them at www.mumsfit.co.uk and e mail joan@mumsfit.co.uk to find out more information about the next 6 week block of classes.


My favourite exercise – because it really works!

posted by Joan Palmer

bridge

There are so many great exercises that we can do for our legs to build up strength around your back, pelvis and hips, but it’s great when you find one that really works well for you and you can notice a difference from doing it. When time is precious you need something to be as effective as possible.

The exercise I find very effective in building up strength and has been very helpful to my own leg strength is ‘The Bridge’. During my physio career I have taught this exercise on so many occasions and it often surprises people that they have difficulty doing a simple lift of their bottom. More recently I was attending a strength for runners’ class and was amazed that despite many people being able to run very fast they couldn’t manage a simple bridge exercise.

So if you are looking to start getting strong again around the back and legs, this is a good place to start and if you are already exercising, this is a great exercise to supplement what you are doing.

In the pictures below you can see three levels of work that you can progress through.

Initially a simple lift of the bottom. Make sure your arms are across your chest so you are not using them to push off from the floor. Once you are good at doing up to 15 really good lifts, pushing the bottom right up in the air you can initially add a pulsing at the top of the movement so you can really feel your bottom working. You could also add a resistance band across the hips and pull down on it while you push up against it.

Once you have become efficient on doing the simple format you can progress on. In the second picture I have one leg in the air which means you only have one leg to push up through from the floor so this is harder. You will probably find one leg is stronger than the other one. If you find this quite difficult then do stick to doing the exercise on 2 legs for longer. If you progress too quickly you will end up compensating using other muscles instead of the ones you want to use and you won’t notice an improvement.

Finally, the third picture shows me with both feet up on a bench. You could use the bottom of the stairs or even a gym ball to rest your legs on instead, whatever you use, because you have your legs up you will have to work harder to push your bottom up in the air demanding more work on the legs and requiring more stability around the hips. Again, if you are wobbling around when doing this exercise move back a step for a bit longer.

bridge
bridge
bridge

Raising money for Children with Cancer

posted by Joan Palmer

Child Cancer

Many of you already know that I am taking part in the London Marathon this year and I am raising money for Children with Cancer.  I am now asking if you can help me to raise some money by sponsoring me to take on the 26.2 miles that I will be enduring on 23rd April.

I know many of you are runners and have many events under your belt.  I have previously done 3 half marathons all getting better each time but I am by no means a fast runner and I certainly didn’t think that one day I would actually enter a marathon.  

I took up running when I turned 40 and I didn’t take on small events initially, I went straight in for a Half Marathon with a friend who also hadn’t run before.  We thought that if we are going to do an event we might as well do a decent distance!  Since this time we have run regularly, mostly at 6am even on the dark cold mornings of winter.  Prior to this I had always kept myself fit but was more of a team player and worked out at the gym.

Last April I sat watching the London Marathon with my daughter Miriam who told me that I should do that next year in an encouraging tone.  My thoughts have always been that I could never face running another half marathon right after finishing one but I was encouraged by Miriam’s confidence in my ability so I applied for a place and manged to secure one by running for Children with Cancer.

I have been training hard every week and have more than doubled my normal weekly running distance and so far have run up to 16 miles in one go.  I am on schedule to manage a couple of 20 mile runs before the event and have been swimming and working out with kettlebells regularly.

Completing any running event has been a big achievement for me as running was always a no go area for me when I was younger - I suffered badly with asthma.  I remember having many Fridays off school when I was 12 because I was still made to do Cross Country every Thursday at school which resulted in an attack and I spent Friday recovering.  You would have thought they would have cottoned on to what was happening but thankfully now medication is much better in helping to control the symptoms.  As a result of these bad times with my chest, a lot of changes occurred within my lungs and as a result I now suffer with a chronic chest condition – Bronchiectasis.  This has had effects on what I can do over the last few years.   Medication is now very good at managing this so I am now able to run without having a day off afterwards!!

Please help me to achieve this big ambition by sponsoring me to help raise money for Children with Cancer, I’m sure you will agree it is a very worthwhile cause.

My giving page is http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/JoanPalmer

Thanks for your support.

Five great reasons to come along to Buggyfit

posted by Joan Palmer

Gluten Free Banana Bread
  1. The biggest reason when you are a new mum, is that you get an hour of ‘me’ time!! On having your baby, everything and everyone is focussed on the baby, now it’s time for you to do something for yourself while your baby is safely with you in their buggy. Start early on giving yourself some time to do something for you as it can be quite difficult to fit it in!
  2. Fresh air! Even if you have had a poor night’s sleep you will feel so much better for getting up and out into the fresh air – so many mums at my classes tell me this. Many studies have also shown that babies who go out in the fresh air will sleep better – it’s a win win situation for you.
  3. You know you will be returning to exercise post pregnancy and birth in a safe and gradual manner. You will complete a full health questionnaire to pick up any complications that may inhibit your return to exercise and I will perform a tummy muscle check to make sure you are doing the correct exercise at the right stage of your post-natal recovery. All exercises are given with an easier option so you don’t need to be concerned about your level of fitness before starting the class. Come along and get fitter and stronger with every session.
  4. You will get a release of endorphins with a session of exercise. Endorphins are your natural feel good hormones and when you are a new mum finding your way with new situations you could do with a few of these. Your workout will also mean that you are getting stronger in all the areas that will have weakened through your changing pregnancy posture. Unless you work on these areas of change they will remain weak and you will then be more susceptible to developing aches and pains through a lack of muscle strength and good posture.
  5. A social outing. An opportunity to have a chat and make new friends going though similar things in life as you and with the same interest as you to get back in shape. You know the saying, ‘A problem shared......’ You may be at an exercise session but there is always time for a chat!

Come along and join us Monday, Wednesday and Friday meeting for 10.30 in front of the Pump Rooms at Pittville Park. There is plenty of free parking behind. E mail joan@mumsfit.co.uk for any other details.

Before and after with Holistic Core Restore®

posted by Joan Palmer

before after

Last week I started the latest 6 week Everywoman Holistic Core Restore® programme with 9 mums that are keen to get themselves reconnected to their body – they all said they wanted their body to feel normal again after having a baby and get back to some exercise without having to worry about what their pelvic floor was going to do. The good news for these mums is that the Holistic Core Restore® Every Woman programme has a very good record of achieving this aim.

This achievement is not just from attending the classes but is down to the dedication from the mum to continue at home with the homework that is supplied on line for them to make sure the pelvic floor and core is exercised at several points throughout the week. The movement exercises within the class are all functional movement patterns so it is easy to transfer how they are learning to activate the pelvic floor and core within the class into movement patterns that they do regularly at home. The end result is a pelvic floor and core that work automatically for you again with movement and they can begin to return to the exercise of choice.

It was at the beginning of this week that I heard from a previous class attendee that she had since taken up some gentle running with no incidents of the pelvic floor which is something that was impossible in September of last year. These are the outcomes that I love to hear about and want to shout from the roof tops to let women out there know that there is help for the pelvic floor. This particular class participant had two children aged 4 and 6, and since having the second child had had real problems with trying to activate and feel any activity in the pelvic floor. Having tried regular kegel exercises with no improvement, she had become used to the fact that a walk to school and back often resulted in an accident as she never made it to the toilet in time. This also shows that it’s not too late to make a difference either – movement patterns and muscle activation just needs to be re –introduced in the correct way to allow for the best recovery.

So if you have yet to get your body back to feeling that all different areas belong to you and you are waiting to get back to previous sports but have big concerns about the pelvic floor and core, do get in touch and I can let you know when the next 6 weeks of classes will begin.

E mail joan@mumsfit.co.uk or call 07957 308968

Is your pelvic floor stopping you from following the New Year get fit trend?

posted by Joan Palmer

Start here

It was great to have a full hall for my first kettlebell class of 2017 last night.  There were several new faces and there were a few ladies there that I have known for a while from a few of my different classes.  These ladies are now back to joining in ‘mainstream’ exercise classes following pregnancy which had led to Diastasis (muscle separation) and pelvic floor weakness.

Issues of pelvic floor weakness following pregnancy and birth are so common but seen as a taboo topic of conversation and possibly something you should put up with because you have children!

However, the ladies that joined in the class last night had done something about it to make sure they could find a level of exercise that they could enjoy and help to keep them fit.  Kettlebells may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but being able to take part in some form of exercise should be a choice we have.  Even if you’re not an exercise type of person having the ability to run around with your children and maybe jump on a trampoline with them should be something you can do without worrying about it.

So what had those ladies done about their pelvic floor issues to make them able to come along to an exercise class on Monday?

Several of them had been coming to Buggyfit classes in Pittville Park so they had returned to exercise post baby in a safe and gradual manner.  They would have known of any limitations they may have had because I will always check everyone’s tummy muscles for any sign of a Diastasis. If a diastasis was present I was then able to guide them in the right direction as to what they should and shouldn’t do to make this better.

Buggyfit was enough for some people to make a difference but for others and also those without small people to come along to Buggyfit with, there is an alternative and something more specific to the Pelvic floor area.  I run Holistic Core Restore® classes, which is a 6 week block of exercise in a class with homework.  The exercises are progressive and functional over the 6 weeks and really get you connected with the pelvic floor region and your core – you will wonder how you were managing to function before without this connection!!

If you think you have a diastasis that is even beyond any of the above, I can still help!!  I can visit you at home and tailor a bespoke rehab programme for your individual needs. 

So if you are struggling to get back to the activity of your choice, please get in touch.  Help is out there, you just need to know where it is and then you can start making a difference to your body and its ability to keep you fit and active.

Please contact me at joan@mumsfit.co.ukmob 07957 308968
Start here

Are your tummy muscles still weak following pregnancy?

posted by Joan Palmer

Wobbly Tummy

What should you do if you think your tummy muscles need some help?

Don’t panic... and read on!!

Everyone’s abdominal muscles have to stretch during pregnancy to allow the baby to grow but sometimes the muscles afterwards are not how we would like them to be.  We don’t always shrink back to how things were before, but remember your body has just been through 9 months of change so it’s not really going to be back to how it was that quickly.   If you do still have a significant soft gap between your tummy muscles known as a DIASTASIS then you do need to be careful about what you do as far as activity and exercise is concerned if you want this condition to improve. 

There is a lot of misused vocabulary where this issue is concerned and it’s really due to a lack of understanding and then not being able to give the right advice about what you should do to help it.

The comments ‘your muscles haven’t knitted back together’ and ‘your muscles have split’ are phrases you may have heard but they aren’t helpful and are very misleading and this is why…

Diastasis

If you look at the picture of the abdominal muscles on the left you can see that there is a small gap between them already and these are the good ones! Your abdominal muscles weren’t knitted together in the first place and they never will be.  They are attached to a band of connective tissue that travels down your midline.

What is important is how firm that band of connective tissue is between your abdominal muscles.  In the picture on the right that band of tissue has been stretched but it hasn’t been ‘split’.

If connective tissue is stretched, which is the case in the picture on the right it will be thinner and less supportive to your muscular system because your muscles are attached to it.  This stretched and thinner tissue means that your body doesn’t have the ability to transmit loads from one side of the body to the other or from upper to lower body effectively or efficiently so another area of your body will have to take the strain.

Pelvic Floor

You can see from the picture above that the abdominals are in a supportive system within the body along with the diaphragm, spine and pelvic floor.  If your midline abdominal support isn’t there, which is apparent with a diastasis then the extra strain is taken in one of those mentioned areas – back pain and pelvic floor dysfunction may already be there or will develop from poor and inefficient movement patterns.  The other area is your diaphragm, how you breathe can also have a huge impact on how this gap/stretched midline tissue is managed.  So often there is a lot of tightness between the ribs from baby’s positioning inside you that until this is released it is very difficult to breathe properly.  This tissue can be released with very simple but effective massage techniques.

High impact exercise, running, sit ups, crunches and planks are some of the inappropriate exercises to do if you do present with this problem of a diastasis.  What is needed is to take a step back and work in a way that will help you to reengage with your abdominal muscles whilst you move, work and exercise and ensure that you are breathing appropriately.

I am able to help you find the right exercise for your abdominals with the Holistic Core Restore® Diastasis programme and get you back to full functional activity and the level of exercise you would like and also feel more confident in how your body can withstand increasing load and impact.

Nutrition and hydration also have a huge part to play in helping to overcome issues with this problem as what you take in via your gut feeds your tissues.  Your body’s tissues are made up of a high percentage of water so making sure you are well hydrated through the day will make a difference in how this connective tissue works.  An initial tip for you to start helping with a diastasis is to drink plenty of water.  More information regarding nutrition is given throughout the diastasis programme.

If you are aware that you have this problem or think you do then get in touch and we can discuss this further and in more depth, I run regular Holistic Core Restore® Diastasis programme which will help you get back to feeling that your tummy belongs to you again giving you the support and stability your body needs to be active in a safe way.

 

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Carrot and Lentil soup

posted by Joan Palmer

Carrot Soup

I thought I would share a great recipe for Carrot and Lentil soup to keep you warm, I found this recipe in the newspaper several years ago and it makes an appearance every winter and my girls love it too. This is so easy to make, a tasty lunch and a great source of protein - a winner all round.

Serves 6

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1.5 litres of vegetable stock (watch out for the salt content)
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 4 large carrots
  • 200g red lentils

Heat the oil and gently cook the garlic and chopped onion until soft. Poor in the stock and bring to the boil. Roughly cut the celery and carrots and add them to the stock with the lentils. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the carrots are cooked. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor and season to taste.

This recipe has a good quantity of garlic in it and on Kate Dimmer’s Nutrition page www.facebook.com/katedimmernutrition/ it will tell you all about the great qualities of garlic.

Pregnant, are you worried about your fitness level now?

posted by Joan Palmer

Becoming pregnant is a life changing experience and with a new life growing inside you, you may start to think about what you should and shouldn’t be doing as far as exercise is concerned. Whether or not you are used to exercising there is plenty of evidence to support carrying out some exercise during your pregnancy once you have had your initial scan at around 12 weeks.

So here are 8 reasons why it’s a good idea to take up some exercise during pregnancy and in particular why my Pregnancy Fit class is a great option to carry this out

  1. You will meet other expectant mums. Becoming pregnant can be quite overwhelming with lots of information to take in and lots of planning to think about. It’s great to meet other expectant mums to talk things over with and learn new information.
  2. You will be able to keep your changing posture in check – During your pregnancy there will be big changes in your posture that will lead you to develop weaknesses in various areas of the body that normally help to keep you strong and upright. The exercise that you do at this class will work on these areas and will keep this problem to a minimum.
  3. To work on your core and pelvic floor. Just because you are pregnant it doesn’t mean you can’t work on keeping your core and pelvic floor active and the more you work on this during pregnancy, it will make your post natal recovery much easier.
  4. You will be fit for labour. We all know that this can sometimes be a long process and the stronger you are the more able you will be to tolerate the potential long process. Your labour will be much better and the baby will be happier if you are upright and moving for as long as possible. Maintaining a certain level of aerobic fitness will also make this process easier.
  5. You will have ongoing contact with a qualified physiotherapist who will help you with any aches and pains you may develop and how best to manage them. With regular contact with myself you will gain advice about any possible problems early on and know what to do to make them manageable.
  6. It has been shown that those women that exercise during pregnancy are less likely to need as much pain relief during labour.
  7. Those women that exercise during pregnancy put on less weight during pregnancy.
  8. Women that exercised during pregnancy were more likely to continue with exercise after birth and therefore are fitter to cope with being a new mum.

Pregnancy Fit classes run Mondays 8-9pm at Stoke Orchard Community Centre, GL52 7SB. For more information e mail joan@mumsfit.co.uk, visit www.mumsfit.co.uk. Or call 07957308968

Top Tips for a Healthy Core and Pelvic Floor

posted by Joan Palmer

As I meet lots of new mums particularly through Buggyfit classes, I get asked lots of questions about getting your core strength back and looking after your pelvic floor. However, you don’t have to be a new mum to still have issues with the core not feeling strong and your pelvic floor not kicking back into action properly. Because of these issues I am going to share with you today 10 top tips to help your core and pelvic floor get back to full action.

Top tip no. 1

Check out your posture when sitting and standing. Your posture will have changed a lot during pregnancy and some muscles will have become weaker and some will have become tighter due to an adaptation of increased weight carried in front of the body. When you sit to feed your baby (Breast or bottle) make sure that you are comfortable and your lower back is well supported. In standing and walking stand tall as if you are being pulled up through the top of your head and try to keep up tall when pushing the buggy. Good posture will mean that your core muscles are in the optimum position for working effectively.

Top tip no 2

Avoid sitting bolt upright when in bed. Instead, roll over on to one side and drop your legs over the edge of the bed and push yourself up with the top arm. This is particularly important in very new mums as it takes the pressure off the abdominals completely and they will be less effective at doing their job of supporting your middle in the early stages. However, this is still a good move to do if you find it difficult to sit straight up in bed no matter how old your child is and difficulty with this movement is an indication that the core is not yet working effectively.

Top tip no 3

Drink plenty of water 1.5-2 litres a day. The body’s tissues are made up of a high content of water – 70%. Therefore if there is any degree of dehydration the tissue cells are unable to work properly and this will impede the healing process. Also, for tissues to work freely and for their fibres to slide well against each other during activities like muscle contractions there needs to be enough hydration otherwise the tissues become ‘sticky’.

Top tip no. 4

Breathe out on exertion. Whenever you are doing anything of exertion/effort like picking up the baby, toddler or buggy etc try to breathe out as you do the movement of effort. As you breathe out you will activate your abdominals and this will give you some support to your middle while you are increasing the load through it with the task you are carrying out.

Top tip no.5

Get checked out for the presence of a Diastasis (Abdominal muscle separation). Everyone’s abdominals have to stretch during pregnancy and in general they will come back together on their own after a few weeks following the birth. However, this is not always the case and if there is an ongoing gap between the abdominals with a very soft middle between the 2 main muscle bellies there is no support for your middle when you carry out more strenuous tasks and exercise. If this gap continues to be a problem, there is a risk of developing a ‘doming’ between the muscle bellies on exertional activities. If there is evidence of a diastasis then there are specific exercises that you can follow to help overcome the problem.

Top tip no. 6

Cut down on your caffeine intake. Caffeine is an irritant to the bladder (as are sugary drinks and alcohol!) so if you are having problems with pelvic floor function drinking something that makes you want to visit the toilet more often won’t be helping. Why not try some different herbal teas. I recently gave out some different tea bags to try at my Holistic Core Restore class and there was a very positive response to the liquorice flavour especially as it seemed to help alleviate the need to eat something sweet as well.

Top tip no 7

Stop the ‘just in cases’. Going to visit the toilet ‘just in case’ is not healthy for the bladder. The bladder is a muscle so if you don’t use it properly it will become less effective. Make sure when you visit the toilet it was a worthwhile trip! When you empty your bladder you should be able to count up to 8 Mississippis – 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi and so on up to 8, anything less wasn’t worth going!

Top tip no 8

Don’t hold your breath when you do anything that requires effort. Holding your breath will create a rise in the pressure within your intraabdominal cavity. If there is a weakness in the core system somewhere – eg pelvic floor or a diastasis (abdominal muscle separation) then that pressure will escape via the weakness, either causing an unwanted incident at the pelvic floor or a doming to occur through the abdominal muscle wall. I talked about breathing out on exertion in the first 5 tips.

Top tip no. 9

Eat more whole foods. Whole foods will be kinder to your digestive system. If you kind to your digestive system then you will be kind to your bowel too and hence no constipation. Any issues with constipation will cause great strain on your pelvic floor – not great in the long run. If you still want to go out for a little treat though or try a juice to help kick start your digestive system then why not take a trip to The Core in Charlton Kings www.thecorecheltenham.com

Top tip no.10

Try to have protein with every meal. Protein provides the body with essential amino acids which are important for healing tissues within your body. Therefore if you are trying to recover form a diastasis or pelvic floor trauma/weakness then increasing your protein intake will help to rebuild these tissues. Good sources of protein are eggs, fish and seafood, nuts and seeds and white meat.

I hope that these will prove just as helpful – let me know!

Coffee and Mince Pies - Central Cross Café

posted by Joan Palmer

After the Buggyfit classes on Mon 14th , Wed 16th and Fri 18th Dec we will be finishing the class at Central Cross Café (11.30am) for coffee and mince pies – any old Buggyfitters are welcome to join us as are prospective Buggyfitters.

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