Scroll through the slideshow above for four posture perfecting exercises.
Carry, rock, feed, burp – repeat. As a new mom this often feels like all you are doing. This kind of repetitive behavior places extreme amounts of pressure and strain on the muscles of the upper back, neck and shoulders. The rounding forward of the upper spine had already begun when you were pregnant as your breasts grew and your big tummy pulled everything in an anterior direction. Now it’s time to target the muscles of the shoulders, arms and back to help counter the rounding forward, a condition known as postural Kyphosis. When it comes to posture – release and strength go hand in hand so be sure to consistently stretch the muscles of the chest and neck.
Restoring good posture is vital to staying pain free and reconnecting you with your body after childbirth– it’s even been proven that good posture has a positive influence on mood and overall well-being!
Tip: I tell all my BodyLove Pilates members and clients to make sure they are well supported by either a feeding cushion or their own set-up when they are feeding their baby. This can make a huge amount of difference to the tension and strain you are placing on your upper body. My favorite was the Brest Friend pillow and I was constantly surrounded by every shape and size of pillow I could find in my house!
Step 1. Reconnect the Deep Core
The deep core muscles of the body are attached to the spine and pelvis. When you strengthen these muscles they help return the natural curves of the spine and stabilize the pelvis. Check out the series of core exercises detailed in the pilates guide for new moms.
Tip: When you are feeding your baby this week – try and be your tallest self. Don’t slump in the chair. Sitting up tall will automatically turn on those deep core muscles we are trying to target. And yes – I absolutely consider this an exercise when you’re a new mom!
Step 2. Stretch the Muscles of the Chest and Neck
There is a huge amount of tightness in the chest and neck from the many baby caring jobs a new mom does. Make sure you do daily stretching of these muscles to relieve the pain and tension associated with the tightness. At the end of each day I always tried to carve out a moment to open up the front of my body.
Tip: The Foam Roller is such an awesome prop to have and the perfect aid when trying to stretch out the chest and neck. Lay your whole spine and head along the length of the roller and stretch your arms wide out to the side. Stay here as long as you can and just breathe – allowing the tight muscles and connective tissue to slowly release.
Step 3. Finding Back Extension
During your pregnancy it is very hard to find back extension and now that you’re a new mom there is so much time spent rounding forward caring for your baby. These activities cause the spine to be in a constant state of flexion – resulting pain and stiffness. To counter this you need to strengthen the muscles of the back and focus on opening up the front of the body. Plus – it feels so good to be able to work out on your tummy again!
Step 4. Arm & Shoulder Strengthening
No heavy weights needed! When it comes to strengthening the arms and shoulders for good posture your focus should always be on form. Proper alignment is key. You are targeting the small stabilizing muscles of the shoulder blades and back of the arms and this requires slow deliberate movement, with minimal resistance. I love using the stretch band for postural arm exercises and mixing up my set-up to keep me motivated and challenging the many different target muscles.
Scroll through above to see four of Ali’s favorite posture perfecting exercises.