Tips For Switching From Road to Mountain Bike

It’s not unusual for Road riders to want to venture into Mountain biking, after all, it is just another form of riding to explore.  However, mountain bike riding is very different and does require quite a different approach to road riding.

wendy bike motion wendy and friends wendy bikeMountain biking is a very friendly, relaxed recreational sport.  It’s not about racing or being first across the finish line, it is about smelling the roses in a non competative environment, spending time with your friends and family, or just getting out in the bush for some fresh air, searching for that ideal single track.

There are some beautiful trails and single tracks in and around Melbourne to explore and practice your “switch”.  Not too far from the city is Lysterfield Park – the perfect place to get on your bike.  There are varying levels of tracks from fire trails and basic green tracks all the way up to black and double black tracks used when they held the Commonwealth games there in 2006.

So here are my 6 basic tips for crossing the line to the dark side and once you’ve tried it you may never go back!

Relax your approach

  • MTB riders are a friendly social group.
  • Take your time to enjoy the scenery and take some selfies
  • Everyone waits for each other, its not always race

Attack Position

  • Learn and perfect your attack position
  • Think level pedals, elbows out, eyes up
  • Use this position as your default for obstacles, corners and everything else

Start with the basics, everyone needs to get their foundations right

  • Go and do a basic skills course
  • Hang out with others that ride regularly and follow their lines
  • Practice, practice, practice 

Pick trails that are to your ability

  • To get better, you need to be confident 
  • You also need to be able to commit to certain obstacles and skills, if you don’t you will fail
  • Gradually build your skills, master one, then move onto another

Pedal all the way

  • Whatever you do, don’t stop pedaling
  • When you go over obstacles, up hills and inclines you need to have traction – no traction and you come to a stop
  • By pedaling, you get stronger 

Look where you want to go

  • MTB riding is all about vision
  • Sight the corner or obstacle and then look beyond it, if you continue to focus on it, that is where you will go.  
  • Keep your vision up and scanning all the time

wendy rearMountain biking can be so much fun.  The more you do, the more you will want to do, so get yourself kitted up in a good pair of baggies and a comfortable jersey to head out onto the trails for a ride to remember!  

 

By Wendy Snowball, Personal Trainer @spincyclewarrandyte

  

16111940_693254704185670_467797458_nWendy Snowball is a She Science Ambassador, Personal Trainer, Mountain Biker, Warrandyte MTB Club Secretary and also coaches MTB skills. She races with her daughter Courtney – who is also a She Science Ambassador. You can follow the ladies @spincyclewarrandyte, @courtney_snowball and at spincyclewarrandyte.

 

Everyday wear on the run: Shock Absorber Active Shaped

I have been doing a lot of afternoon runs recently and over the Summer that meant it was quite warm whilst I was running. So I asked She Science for a bra that is supportive but looks good enough to be worn on its own like a crop top.

I decided on the Shock Absorber Active Shaped. I really like the look of this bra – it’s a bit different from your standard sports bra. It is essentially two layers. The inner layer is a lightly moulded band that has minimal seams – so it is comfortable whilst also giving a nice shape. The outer layer is the main body of the bra and at the front this consists of two triangular shaped pieces of mesh. At the back it is your traditional hook and eye fastening and straight shoulder straps.

blog pic vDue to the traditional style back it was nice and airy so my back stayed cool whilst running, but unfortunately it does look like a bra from the back. This has the upside of being very easy to get and off, but the downside is that the straight shoulder straps show if you wear a racer back top.

The whole construction of the bra is of very high quality and there are minimal seams in contact with your skin. The fabric is smooth too so there is minimal chance of chafing- as yet I haven’t experienced any chafing despite wearing it for some very hot and sweaty runs!

The main chest strap is wide as are the shoulder straps so the forces are evenly distributed and there is less chance of straps digging in. The shoulder and chest straps also have a lot of adjustment room, which is great if your size fluctuates slightly as the bra will still fit and support you well.

To break it down:

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Great shape
  • Stylish
  • Can be worn as an everyday bra
  • Easy to get on and off
  • Lots of adjustment room
  • Supportive
  • Smooth fabric with minimal seams
  • Very open at the back for good airflow

Cons:

  • Looks like a bra from the back
  • Straight back straps- can’t be worn with a racerback top


For me this bra is great as I can wear it under my t-shirt at work and it still gives me good shape. Then I can quickly discard my tee at the beginning of lunch and be out of the door and running in a blink of an eye! When I get back from my run the bra is quick and easy to remove, even when sweaty. So overall this means more time running and less time changing – good when you want to have a decent run and still have time to eat your lunch!

By Lauren Starr, Physiotherapist

Lauren Starr is a physiotherapist and also takes clinical pilates, hydrotherapy and yoga classes. Outside of work she spends her spare time running. She has competed in trail and road events but has currently shifted her focus to athletics. 

 

From Office to Trail – Brooks Anyday

I don’t know about you, but I am always in a hurry after work to hit the road, trail or track. Even more so now when daylight savings has ended and we are limited with the amount of daylight left to guide the way. So I really hate wasting precious sunlight getting changed once the clock hits 5!

anydayblackfront_clipped_rev_1.jpegI don’t usually like wearing my sports bra to work. But the Anyday bra by Brooks is the perfect everyday bra to serve the purpose of work to workout.

A great soft fit with light padding, giving a nice shape- it looks like a normal bra but it will give you a higher level of support, combining encapsulation and compression.

The bra is quite low cut, and you have the option of wearing the straps in traditional or cross back. This enables a wide range of outfit choices.

This bra does not come in a size 8, but I found that it was a small fit and hence I was able to fit well into a 10.

Overall a great compromise between different functions.

 

Kellie Marceau Photography

2016 Australian Trail Champion, Kellie Emmerson is a She Science Ambassador and serial ultra-marathon podium finisher.  Kellie professionally works as an Occupational Therapist, Running Coach and Body Pump Instructor. You can follow Kellie on facebook and on Instagram @kelemmo. 

 

 

 

Visit our full website at www.SheScience.com.au

You can find us on facebook www.facebook.com/SheScience

Or on instagram www.instagram.com/SheScience

 

Six of our favourite everyday bras

She Science has carefully selected a range of everyday bras that are more sassy than sporty, great for that night out!

Our Favourites for D cup plus ladies are:

Freya’s ‘Deco Moulded Plunge Bra’ RRP $90

picaThis bra is a staple in many women’s wardrobes, Deco has a nice round moulded cup great for V neck tops. The straps on this bra aren’t bulky like some bras and it has the ability to cinch in at the back to create a flawless line across the back of racerback tops. Deco has a seam free cup design to prevent irritation across the nipple and give a soft look under clothing. This bra doesn’t only come in black, Freya always do at least one seasonal colour so you can spice up your wardrobe!

Deco Is Available in cups B – GG

 

Scantilly by Curvy Kate’s ‘Peek a Boo Balcony Bra’ – RRP $135

picbbThis sassy underwire black bra you can wear day to night! The soft satin outer sling and 4 piece cup creates a perfect round perky shape. The Straps on this bra are very supportive and thick to add to your comfort to wear all night. This bra is perfect for summer is it’s made from a light breathable polyester blend, the seams do not irritate the nipple and its great under scoop neck tops. Scantilly’s Peek-A-Boo bra comes in a fashion colour each season so be sure to check it out!

Peek a Boo Balcony Bra is Available in cups DD – HH

 

Our Favourites for size 14 plus back ladies are:

Fayreform’s Coral Underwire Bra – RRP $50

piccCoral is a full coverage underwire 3 piece cup bra. The underwire in this bra overlaps at the centre panel creating a narrow silhouette. This bra has a wide solid elastane back ensuring full support along with comfortable thick straps to get you through any day! The seams in Coral are what gives the bra its shape along with the unique underwire. Fayreform also makes a wire free version of this bra ‘Coral Soft Cup’ which is a good alternative if you prefer wire free bras. The elegant lace Coral has a cult like following within the fashion bra community and is easily accessible in Australia instore and online. Coral comes in a variety of colours which makes it so hard to pick which one to get!

Coral is available in C-F cup.

 

Elomi’s Bijou RRP $90

picddBijou is similar to Deco (previously mentioned) in many ways. This bra is an underwire plunge contour bra. The smooth cup inside and out prevents any nipple show through and is great under sheer clothing. Bijou gives a flattering rounded shape giving you a great silhouette, it even has a J-hook at the back (cinch) to hide straps under racerback tops, what more could you want! The straps on this bra are thick and supportive without being bulky. Bijou comes in nude and seasonal colour for those less conservative!

Bijou is available in E – H cupspicee picfffffff

 

Loveable’s Sexy and Seamless Contour Bra RRP $60

Sexy and Seamless underwire is a great as a first bra as it’s not too invasive and gives nipple coverage. Loveable also make a ‘Sexy and Seamless Wire free bra’ available in A to D cup. The seamless bra fits nicely under school uniforms as well as business shirts. This bra has supportive straps and the back fits a little on the firm side! This bra is a plunge bra has foam cups giving a rounder projection and has hook and eye closure. Loveable is easily accessible in Australia online and instore. Sexy and Seamless comes in a variety fun of seasonal colours, so what are you waiting for!

Sexy and Seamless is available in A – G cup

 

Heidi Klum’s Sofia Underwire Bra RRP$75

Heidi Klums’s Sofia underwire bra has had a cult like following ever since Elle Macpherson’s first launched it as Dentelle. It’s safe nothing changed with the bra, basically it’s same bra, different ambassador for Bendon Lingerie’s flagship brand. Sofia is an underwire balconette style bra with 3 piece cup adding support and shape. For extra support in Sofia there is boning at the side of the bra. This bra has fashionable and supportive straps perfect to show off in summer! This bra also comes in a ‘Sofia Contour bra’ from A – DD if you prefer a little more nipple coverage.  Sofia without fail comes in at least one fashion colour every season, so it’s easy to find a colour or two you will love!

 

Sofia is available in B – G cup

Reward and recognition: How to ‘achieve’ in sport without being a Pro’

My life motto is to dream, believe and achieve in all that I do and I believe that anyone can if they set their mind to it.

Today I call myself a Triathlete and Ultra Marathoner.

Four years ago I didn’t know how to ride a bike and I couldn’t swim a lap of the pool.

I will be the first to admit that I am not a Pro’ triathlete. I don’t even necessarily have the talent to reach the podium in my sport, but I do have the passion and drive to achieve all the personal goals I have set for myself within triathlon and in life.

But passion and drive didn’t stop me having to face some significant hurdles in my journey from absolute novice to completing an Ironman in my first year of the sport.

Whilst training for Ironman Melbourne in 2014 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) which is an autoimmune disorder that causes pain and swelling of the joints.

Defying all odds, I completed the event!

0658_70007

Ironman is no mean feat even for the fittest athlete. It comprises of a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and then a full 42.2km marathon. So for me to cross the finish line in a very respectable 14 hours and 7 minutes was a HUGE accomplishment. Especially when you consider that most people diagnosed with RA to the degree I have it are rarely able to get out of bed in the morning.

I did actually end up in hospital at the completion of the event for a week and a half.

However I am not a quitter and I refuse to give up, no matter how hard and crappy my RA is so since that Ironman moment I have also competed in a bunch of events including the 50km 2016 Great Ocean Rd Ultra Marathon, 50kms of the 2016 Surf Coast 100 as part of a team of two and I have a big list ahead of me for 2017 – including another Ironman.

IMG_0002 (002) 0658_16374 (002)

So now I find myself giving back to my sport.

Two years ago I took on the role of President of the Bayside Triathlon Club which is one of the biggest Triathlon Clubs in Victoria with over 500 members. This has been no easy task, but it is one that I love and am extremely passionate about.

In two years we have increased total membership by 30% and female membership by 40% – which I’m really proud of.

I’m also now on the board of Triathlon Victoria which enables me to further encourage and promote the participation of Women into our sport.

I am an everyday person with the positive attitude and drive to succeed in all that I do. I also have a proven track record in “getting things done” both in my personal and professional life. I never take on something I don’t believe I can whole heartedly achieve at and I have I made a commitment to myself to always give back to the things that make me happy.

Many people believe that being recognised for what you do is a result of the place you get in a race. For me it’s about being in the race and representing what you believe in. Not only in triathlon but in day to day life.

My goals range from something as simple as getting out of bed, to something as big as racing Ironman.

I am proof that anyone who has the drive, commitment and determination to achieve something can be recognised for it. You’ve just got to ask yourself what do you want to be recognised for?

By Sonia Dunne, Triathlete @sonia_D227713173804_10153781682415547_845512458671438348_n (002)

 

Thoracic Pain & Large Breasts : How to manage the discomfort

 

The thoracic spine is the section of spine between your cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back). Each vertebrae of the thoracic spine has a rib connected on either side and the upper ribs connect to the sternum at the front of your body.

blog pic y

blog pic x

Due to the attachment of the rib cage to the thoracic spine there is limited movement through the upper back region. Consequently we can often get stiff and sore in the upper back. Sometimes stiffness in the thoracic spine and in the joints between the thoracic vertebrae and ribs can refer pain to other areas such as your sides, front of torso and arms.

Position of the breast on the chest wall:

blog pic d

Muscles of the chest wall:

blog pic e

Muscles of the upper back:

blog pic w

Some factors can increase the risk of getting stiffness and/or pain in the upper back.

Examples include:

  • Poor standing posture
  • Poor sitting posture
  • Lots of time spent sitting
  • Engaging in lots of anterior focused activities and exercises
  • Having a large bust

The weight of a large bust puts increased force on the chest wall and can, amongst other things:

  • Tighten the pectoreal muscles
  • Pull the shoulders forward (which can also lead to various shoulder injuries)
  • Round the top of the thoracic spine (kyphosis)

blog pic f

Some ways to prevent and treat pain and/or stiffness in the upper back:

  • Massage of the chest and shoulders
  • Physiotherapy (which may include mobilisation of the thoracic spine)
  • Spikey ball/tennis ball/cricket ball self-release of pec muscles blog pic jblog pic k
  • Stretches- focused on opening the chest and loosening the thoracic spine
  • Upper back strengthening exercises

  • Improving posture
  • Using a lumbar roll for support when sitting
  • Decreasing time spent sitting or interspersing sitting with regular standing/walking/stretching
  • Modifying activities to decrease load on front of body
  • Getting properly fitted for a good-quality brablog pic u
  • Wearing a good quality, fitted sports bra for exercise

blog pic v

If you are experiencing ongoing upper back or chest pain and these steps do not help please consult a medical professional.

 

By Lauren Starr, Physiotherapist

Hi, my name is Lauren Starr and I’m a 28 year old physiotherapist. I’ve been working in a busy physiotherapy clinic in Melbourne’s South East for three years now and I love it! As well as assessing and treating people in rooms, I also take clinical pilates, hydrotherapy and yoga classes.

blog pic ablog pic b

Outside of work I spend most of my time running. I have been focussing on athletics recently, but I also compete in trail and road events.

I am lucky enough to have a partner and dog who also love running so we go on lots of running adventures together in our campervan.

In my downtime I enjoy spending time with family and friends, reading and baking.

 

Understanding Bra Fitting and Bra Features to improve your riding

By Tish Monahan, founder of Sports Bra Store, She Science

FIND US AT EQUITANA John Deere Pavilion, Stand 128

tish horse

 

Anecdotally we understand that breasts and horse-riding haven’t always paired well together, but it wasn’t until recently that we truly understood the nature of this barrier to participation.  A study that was conducted on over 1300 female horse riders demonstrated 40% of participants experience breast pain in the saddle, with 21% reporting that is affected their riding. The conclusion was made that education regarding bra fitting and breast support was required in order to improve the comfort and performance of female riders.

The most important thing to get right when you are purchasing a bra is the fit. You could be in the most expensive bra with the greatest online reviews but if the bra doesn’t fit you perfectly it has no chance of functioning well.

Here are my tips to buying your best Sports Bra for horse riding:

  1. Know where the support comes from.

It’s actually the band that runs around the ribcage that is responsible for stabilising breast tissue and decreasing breast displacement (bounce!). If this band is too loose then the band will ride up and down your back and the front will follow in a see-saw effect. This leads to out of control breast displacement during activity. This is the component of most bra fittings that women often get wrong, and it is the most important part to get right. Knowing that this band needs to fit firmly in order for it to sit securely and stay in place will put you in good stead when it comes to finding your best bra.

  1. Coverage is key

The breast moves in three directions when we are riding. It moves in and out, side to side and up and down. The up and down movement is the most excessive movement. This vertical pattern of movement must be controlled in order to reduce your overall breast displacement when riding. Along with getting the right bra fit, coverage is the next most important feature to look at to control this movement. A bra that exposes cleavage will often provide an escape route for soft breast tissue during activity.

  1. Shoulder straps and posture for horse riding

The shoulder straps are important, we’d be in trouble without them, but they are often relied on too much. The shoulder straps are there to add stability, not to take the weight of the breast. A mistake often made which significantly impacts ones riding posture is pulling the shoulder straps to tightly which causes us to roll our shoulders and hunch forward, making it impossible to sit tall in the saddle and ride with the correct hand position. This over-tightening of straps often coincides with the ribcage band being too loose, and the wearer then feeling the need to tighten the straps to compensate.

  1. Shape, Style and How your Jacket sits

I can certainly tell you that shape is subjective. Some people want a flattened look under their jacket and others prefer a more well defined and shapely look. I find that in many cases this will depend also on the fit of one’s jacket.

To achieve a flattened look which could work best under jackets that possibly fit too tightly, then a bra that compresses the breast tissue down will work best. These are typically non underwire bras, and will result in more of a ‘uni-boob’ look.  Some popular options for this are the D+ Classic, Enell Sport or Jubralee.

For those looking for a more shapely look that still offers great support then a bra with underwire and a moulded cup will be most effective. This style will leave the wearer with a more defined and lifted ‘two boob’ look. Great examples of this are the Ultimate Performance, Panache Sport and Epic Sports Bra.

Some of our best rated Sports Bra’s for horse-riding

JUNO, available C – E cup

juno-poppy-oxford-front 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE, available C – E cup

berleiultimateperformanceblack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D+ CLASSIC, available D – H cup

 lifestyle-active-d-classic-support_n109-white

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOMENTUM, available D – G cup

 anita-nude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENELL SPORT, available approx. D – J cup

enellsportsbrawhitefrontfastening 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit about She Science

She Science is Australia’s only Sports Bra Store. We specialise in the fitting and prescription of technical Sports Bras for cup sizes A – J and band sizes 6 – 24. Our range is sourced from 12 industry leading brands from around the world, with over 40 styles to choose from.

In store we offer a comprehensive bra fitting service, optional treadmill wear testing and the use of the motion analysis software to assist us in finding each customer their best Sports Bra.

Our full range is also available online for those shopping from interstate.

 

Best Bra Fitter Australia Melbourne

 

Tish is the co-founder and director of She Science, a Specialty Sports Bra and Sports Wear store in Melbourne. Tish has completed Advanced Bra Fitting training both locally and internationally as well as tertiary education in biomechanics. She follows the latest research on breast biomechanics and Sports Bra design religiously to ensure that She Science remains the most advanced Sports Bra shopping environment in the world. Tish views her Sports Bra business as a vehicle for her to inspire and enable women of all shapes and sizes to participate actively in life. Find Tish online via @SheScience. 

 

First Time Fit Top Five

Do you remember your first bra fitting? For most of us it was an awkward, embarrassing 10 minutes of our life in front of a total stranger. For others our first bra might have arrived wrapped in a plastic bag and been sat subtly on the end of our bed!

They call it puberty blues for a reason!

But it doesn’t have to be that awkward.

A sports bra is a great option for a first bra for developing girls and often it’s during their sporting or school physical education activities that students first start to feel like they need a bra.

Getting fitted for a sports bra rather than for an everyday bra can help eliminate some of the angst from a situation. This is because you’re purchasing a technical sports product for a noticeable need that will make them focus on feeling more comfortable rather than being focussed on being uncomfortable in some new clothing contraption!

But here are our Top Five Reasons a Sports Bra is a great first time fitting option:

  1. Comfort: They are more likely to be a crop/compression style of product. This can, in some cases, assist not only to support but to minimise the appearance of breasts and provide coverage that feels similar to a bathing suit.

 

  1. Adjustable: There is some great product on the market which will include the straps being adjustable at the front which can allow for breast tissue growth, while still being as supportive as possible.

 

  1. Wire Free: There are often very supportive options that do not have underwire. Underwire is in Sports Bras and everyday bras simply to enhance shape – and there is nothing wrong with wearing it. But for first time bra wearers they can often take some getting used to. Starting in a bra without an underwire can be a great first step.

 

  1. Adaptable: They fit with a student’s lifestyle. Often around the age of a first bra young people are sitting at their desk one minute and running around the next. Sports Bras can be comfortable enough to wear all day, whilst providing support when it’s demanded.

 

  1. Fashion: They come in a great range of colours, and let’s face it, that matters!

 

Most importantly a well-fitting and comfortable bra – whether everyday or Sports – can have a big impact on confidence. Starting out with the right fit and right knowledge can change what can be an awkward experience into an empowering one.

 

Bra Banding Might Fix Your Chafing Woes

It’s all about the banding when it comes to Sports Bras – but even more so for Sports Bras for distance runners.

Almost every runner has experience dreaded chafing somewhere at some point – ooh and the nasty sting in the shower post run!

But avoiding chafing is usually down to a few simple steps.

  1. Make sure your Sports Bra banding is firm.

You don’t want your bra to be rib-crushingly-too-tight-to-breath firm but you do want it firm enough that the band cannot move.

Having a firm band around the rib cage is the number one rule for getting a Sports Bra or any bra fit right. If the band is firm the majority of support will come from the band and it will apply less pressure to the straps on the shoulders. The bra will be more comfortable and more effective at holding breast tissue in place.

If the band is too loose you immediately lose support for breast tissue, place greater pressure on the straps AND increase your risk of chafing – because the band will move around the rib cage. This is especially true of distance runners as they deplete fluids and grams to kilograms of physical weight as they run.

  1. Make sure the Cup is snug.

For all the same reasons as above – if there is any room in the cup you lose support and invite chafing. You want it tight – compressive – but not so much that breast tissue is spilling out the top or that you feel crushed.

  1. Make sure the bra doesn’t sit too high.

As Sports Bras are often ‘’crop’’ style another common chafe point is if the bra sits too high and digs into the tissue above the breasts and slightly in from the arm pits. This is a potential friction point due to arm movement during running. As runners seek higher coverage from a Sports Bra to close vertical escape routes for breast tissue – which we love – sometimes they can sit too high and cause issues.

  1. Wear a breathable, moisture/sweat wicking material.

It might sound simple but the wrong fabric close to the skin can increase the risk of chafing. Cotton based materials for example will become saturated with sweat and lose most of their breathability.

  1. Arm yourself with an anti-chafe product

Sometimes everything you try will not be good enough. Be sure you are well hydrated and arm yourself with an anti-chafe product like Body Glide. It needs to be something that is water based and NOT petroleum based. And if you already have chafing protect it from getting worse with a film dressing.

 

There are some schools of thought that you shouldn’t wear underwire for distance running. In fact this is an entirely individual decision. If a wire is sitting well in the right place and on the right person some runners will find they prefer this as it will assist to encapsulate the breast tissue reducing sweat pooling between the breasts. Others will find the wire will not sit correctly on their sternum and this can cause irritation as they progress into their run and deplete in fluids. Unfortunately, as our bodies have so many variables, this is one thing that can only be determined when tested on the track.

Getting your Sports Bra professionally fitted can help to ensure you’ve ticked as many of the right boxes as you can before you head out to hit the pavement.

 

Regaining Core Strength After Pregnancy

 

By Libby Nuttall, Personal Trainer and She Science Ambassador

So you’ve had your baby, congratulations! Now it’s time to smash a few ab workouts and flatten that mummy tummy, right?! Wrong. On so many levels, wrong.

Pregnancy puts huge strain on your core and pelvic floor and now is the time for rehabilitation, not waist training, ab workouts, or thrashing our bodies at the gym.

Let’s talk a little bit about the core, because there’s lots of misconceptions. Picture a cylinder. The core is like a cylinder, with the diaphragm at the top, pelvic floor at the bottom, the muscles surrounding your spine known as the multifudus, and your deep abdominal muscles, known as your transverse abdominis. Your glutes are a really important piece of the puzzle as well.

What’s not so important right now are your outer abdominals, you know, your six pack muscles. Unlike your transverse abdominis, they have little impact on your general health or strength. So forget about crunches for a while.

So why does pregnancy put pressure on this region? Well imagine a hammock. Now imagine bouncing a bowling ball on the hammock. That’s what pregnancy is like for your pelvic floor. The extra weight and size puts pressure on all of the internal organs, changing the centre of gravity and the muscles we use to walk, stand and move. The stretching of all these muscles during pregnancy leaves them weakened and at risk of injury.

After childbirth is a crucial time for rehabilitation, and looking after your body in this phase will stand you in good stead for future pregnancies and general health and wellbeing, including minimising aches and pains, preventing pelvic organ prolapse or hernia and healing diastisis recti.

Diastisis Recti

The first thing we should identify is whether we have experienced abdominal separation, and how severe it is. Many women experience diastisis recti, so it’s nothing you should worry about and shouldn’t cause you any pain. It’s important to know which exercises to avoid, to help heal the separation or cause further damage. Undiagnosed ab separation can lead to hernia, posture issues, low back pain and incontinence issues.

lib picYou can determine whether you are affected by visiting a physiotherapist or performing this simple test on yourself (I would always recommend a physio after birth anyway!)

Once this is done, it’s time to start thinking about the best ways to regain core strength, and let me tell you right now, it ain’t situps.

In the first few of months after pregnancy we want to avoid exercises which put too much pressure on the outer abdominals such as situps, double leg raises and crunches. It’s also time to back away from the front loading exercises such as planks and push ups.

It seems like you’re not allowed to do anything, right? Don’t worry, this is a short phase in the scheme of things and there is still plenty you can do to regain core strength without those particular exercises. Trust me, your body will thank you down the track.

Here are my top tips for post partum core work. Remember to always focus on controlled, smooth movements, continuous breathing and good posture.

  1. Breathing and engaging exercises. Start your post partum workouts by learning to re-engage your pelvic floor and core. Identify whether you can, in fact, feel your core and floor being turned on and off. Deep breathing exercises are also key in the early stages. Simply lie down and allow your stomach to expand and contract as much as possible while taking deep breaths.
  1. Basic floor work. There’s several ways to activate your core simply by lying down. Before each of these, actively engage your core and continue to breathe normally.

Single leg heel slides – With knees bent and heels close to hips, slide one leg out to straight and return, swap legs

Single leg extensions – With knees bent and heels close to hips, raise one foot upwards and return, swap legs

Pelvic tilt – lying down and place feet up on a chair or fitball. Engage your core and tilt your pelvic back by pressing your lower back into the floor. Hold for five seconds then repeat 10 times.

libpic3

  1. Plank variations. As we talked about above, front loading exercises are best avoided in the early days, but there are still other options for you. Reverse plank and side plank are great. Over a series of weeks and months, progress at your own pace toward regular plank by starting leaning against a wall, then lower onto a chair or fitball. Next, move on to plank on your knees, then do short bursts on your toes.libpic2
  1. Resistance bands – When you’re ready to add some resistance to your training, resistance bands are a fantastic place to start. They provide a low-impact core workout that you can work up to in the post partum phase, just make sure you’ve really mastered points one and two first. There’s dozens of exercises to do with resistance bands, from rows, to posture work and dedicated core work. The bands allow you to work at an appropriate resistance level and gently regain core strength.

By Libby Nuttall, Miracle Months 

libby nuttalLibby is a women’s personal trainer in the Macedon Ranges. When she’s not hanging with her two sons, husband and Weimaraner (a.k.a; the boys), she is running high intensity fitness classes, volunteering as the president of the local playgroup, or working on her range of pre and post natal wellness programs, Miracle Months. Libby had her second son in December 2015 and is loving sharing the journey back to fitness and strength post baby with her social media following. This year she is looking forward to competing in a number of runs and obstacle races. Follow Libby via Miracle Months facebookinstagram. www.miraclemonths.com