Less Than a Year Postpartum? Hold Off on the Weight Belt.
There is a time and place.
That’s right. There is a time and place for things like weightlifting shoes, weightlifting belts, wrist straps, knee sleeves, and so on. That time is not during the first nine months postpartum.
We’ve talked about returning to training in previous blogs, whether you had a vaginal or cesarean birth. Today, we are specifically talking about the accessories used to enhance performance and the early postpartum period.
Performance can be measured in a number of ways. Many of you relate it to the number on a barbell or a time for a given workout. However, postpartum, especially the first nine months, is not the time to be quantifying your fitness by a score.
As we’ve mentioned numerous times before, the postpartum period is one of resetting the foundation and recalibrating your whole body. To reset and recalibrate, we take movement and breath back to the most basic form. Immediate postpartum, we start with a deep, abdominal, expansive breath. This breath is unique but not foreign to our bodies. Babies can utilize their diaphragms quite well. From a solid breath pattern, we build functional movement patterns. This is where the Functional Movement Progression comes into play.
Change and adaptation take time. Flexibility and strength take time to gain or regain. Balance, coordination, speed, accuracy, and agility need to be re-developed. The body is designed to heal itself, but this doesn’t happen overnight or even in six weeks. It requires patience, grace, lots of nutritious food, and functional movements.
So, next time there is squatting programmed and you’re six or seven months postpartum, ditch the Oly shoes and squat in Converse or barefeet. Feel the ground. Root your hips, legs, and feet to the Earth. And if, for some reason, you feel like you need a weight belt to lift during the initial nine months postpartum, then I’d say you need to spend more time on the functional progression and to reduce the load. This is a time to rebuild, not break down, your body.
In conclusion, I’m not telling you not to lift heavy. I love getting awkwardly heavy. However, give your body time to heal the ligaments and soft tissue that you cannot see. Give yourself as much time to heal as you gave your body to grow a human. Embrace the process of setting the foundation, save the accessories for after nine months postpartum, and reconnect with your body again.
-Lindsey Mathews, DC