One for the mummies! If it feels like you never get time to have a ‘proper’ workout & your best attempts to ‘get back in shape’ are always foiled by the unrelenting demands of being a mum, try optimising your daily ‘mummy movement’ by focusing on your alignment. We need to get it out of our heads that in order to exercise we must be head to toe in lycra & down the gym!
Biomechanist Katy Bowman in her new book ‘Move Your DNA’ likens how we should view exercise as being a vitamin supplement – we need to think of exercise just like that – a supplement to our total daily movement. Just like a vitamin you wouldn’t rely on that to keep you healthy, you’d also try to maintain a nutrient rich diet as well. An isolated ‘workout’ is not the be all & end all – in fact a workout means nothing if you’re a couch potato the rest of the time. Research shows that it’s much better to move (or load) our bodies multiple times per day than do it all in one go.
This is great news for mums – whilst others are frenetically trying to replicate the daily movement they should be getting but can’t, due to sedentary jobs, mums get the opportunity at an action packed day…well….everyday!! No 5 x 30 mins per week for us, as government guidelines recommend!
So how can you optimise your daily activity? Focus on your alignment when you are standing, sitting, bending & moving etc. Maintain good posture, exhale on exertion (e.g when you are moving away from gravity – like when you lift the baby up) & work your pelvic floor muscles in conjunction with movements like lifting the baby or standing up from a squat. Another useful tip is to wear clothes that you can actually move in for example by wearing stretchy jeans & flat shoes you’ll be more inclined to deepen your range of movement, untuck your tail bone & not mind working up a bit of a sweat.
5 ways to max out your daily activity:
- Squat the laundry! If you hang your washing out on a rack, squat down to get each piece of clothing – make sure you have good technique and exhale on exertion.
- Lift the baby – a few extra cuddles instead of buggy time can create some great opportunity to work your body – remember to keep a neutral spine, costal breathing & recruit those pelvic floor muscles!
- Walk during nap time – I know, I know “sleep when the baby sleeps” & all that but sometimes a good walk can be just as replenishing particularly if your baby is at a stage where they are sleeping longer at night.
- Squat to play with your child – squatting to play with your baby not only reinforces some good habits for them but also creates the perfect opportunity to stretch your calves. If you can’t get your heels to the floor place a rolled up towel or similar under your heels. Try to straighten your feet & untuck your tail bone.
- Work your back whilst bathing/cot – These 2 are classic ways to a sore back if you don’t focus on your alignment but if you do then it’s a great opportunity to strengthen your back & stretch out your hamstrings. If you have tight hamstrings & can’t untuck your pelvis then bend your knees until you can. Try to keep your back straight & shoulders away from your ears. Change position to rest when you need to.
References: Katy Bowman ‘Move Your DNA’