This episode about how to safely return to exercise after baby is an interview with Lisa Westhorpe, MS, Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist of Nurture OT.
2:00 background in occupational therapy and personal experience 4:00 current guidelines and why “one size fits all” is dangerous postpartum 6:30 common mistakes new Moms make with regards to fitness 8:00 helpful mindset considerations for Type A Moms who want to return quickly 9:00 importance of coping strategies 10:00 active ideas for modeling healthy behavior with kids 12:00 where you can find Lisa online
Who is Lisa?
Lisa Westhorpe is a masters-level qualified occupational therapist and mama of two with a passion for supporting women during their motherhood journey.
Her interest in women’s health started after her own challenging experiences of pregnancy and early motherhood.
After experiencing both physical and emotional challenges during pregnancy and the postnatal period, she spent many hours studying how to help and support herself back to feeling well.
In addition to courses on perinatal mental health, infant development and time management for busy moms, she gained her qualification as a Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist in 2019, so that I can use my knowledge of adapting exercises to help moms return to exercise safely.
She knew she was not alone in finding the transition to motherhood challenging. After speaking to so many mothers who expressed an interest in receiving support, she founded Nurture Occupational Therapy in early 2019 to help meet this significant unmet need.
Lisa is passionate about supporting birth choices, educating parents-to-be on the fourth trimester, ensuring parents can take care of their bodies while taking care of baby, and promoting a safe return to exercise.
What’s the guideline, anyway?
Lisa specializes in core and pelvic floor health, related to posture and breathing, so moms can return to exercise safely after baby.
To this point her job has been tough when Physicians have stated mothers could return to exercise in 6 weeks after a vaginal delivery and 8 after a c-section.
Thankfully, medical professionals now advise doubling that number. Physical therapists worldwide are clamoring to be heard loud and clear that the 6-8 guideline is too soon and it is creating a host of issues related to pelvic floor health and exercise related injuries.
A 2019 study by famed UK physiotherapist Tom Goom (who has incredible information for runners), and colleagues Grainne Donnelly, and Emma Brockwell, strongly suggests women wait 12 weeks before resuming running. (Walking and other lower-impact impact activities are encouraged!).
Why the new timeline?
Well, the truth is, many of us are mentally ready to run or lift before our bodies are. Some may be ready before that 12-week mark but it’s important to be screened for readiness.
The researchers explain what happens biologically that needs to reverse before we hit the pavement or trails:
“The levator hiatus widens during pregnancy and increases significantly during vaginal birth. Recovery time for the tissues is understood to be between 4-6 months, well beyond the traditional concept of full recovery by the 6-week postnatal check,” states the study. “If we consider cesarean section deliveries, we understand that abdominal fascia has only regained just over 50% of original tensile strength by 6-weeks post abdominal surgery and 73%-93% of original tensile strength by 6-7 months.”
The researchers note that pelvic health physiotherapists around the world are passionate about raising awareness of the extended recovery period that is actually needed. Indeed, soft tissue is only about 75% healed at 6 weeks.
“Often for litigation purposes, the 6-week milestone is one that serves as a tick box confirming readiness and suitability to return to an exercise class, sporting activity, or elite training. The healing process, however, extends well beyond this, and it is essential that the narrative on this subject changes and adapts to better serve our sporting women.”It is now recommended that new moms wait at least 12 weeks before resuming running postpartum.
Other postpartum exercise episodes
I spoke with Founder of MUTU System, Wendy Powell, about how to restore and repair your pelvic floor. This was a huge interview for me personally, as Wendy is a leader in the postpartum fitness community!
Alsofrom MUTU System in a trainer role, Ashley Gammon spoke with me about Diastasis Recti and pelvic floor weakness:
I spoke with Street Parking Founder, Miranda Alcaraz, last season! You can hear her talk about the concept of “More than Nothing” in the context of fitness as well as motherhood.
Also from Street Parking, co-creator of the maintenance and postpartum program Carolina Stone was on the show discussing postpartum fitness from a movement pattern and mechanics standpoint.
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The podcast episode associated with this post is made possible by the following partners:
Red H Nutrition (use RUNLIFTMOM to save 25% on anything)