Sporting comebacks can take some doing. Fitness often needs to be rebuilt after time out, and that's just after taking a non-enforced break.
There's a lot of content out there on people returning to their sports after the most common enforced break that all athletes can face - injury. We'll leave that topic for today.
Half of the population can have enforced time out of sport for a completely different reason - pregnancy and giving birth.
To point out the hopefully obvious, I've never done this, I probably never will and I'm not at all jealous of those of you that do but through working with large numbers of ladies who have, I have seen the unique issues that can arise in returning to sport after giving birth.
These include things like:
- Weakness or lack of control of the core musculature that leads to general weakness.
- Pain and injury resulting from birth or apparently connected.
- Deterioration of balance.
- Reduction of flexibility and mobility.
- Lack of control of specific or general movements.
- Heightened levels of body self-consciousness based on changes in body proportions.
- Feeling new anxiety that doesn't permit full commitment to various actions in the sport.
If you or anybody you know is dealing with such processes on returning to sport, read on.
Where everybody's pregnancy is different and how exactly people come to do any of the things listed above, there are some general categories of activities ladies can do to get more control, strength and comfort back.
I'm going to discuss three of them in no particular order: one now and two in my next piece on this.
1) Redeveloping movement variability.
All women are different shapes and sizes and all change proportions to different extents during pregnancy. A significant commonality between all pregnancies is that the abdomen becomes larger and heavier, creating more load to carry in all movements. A common response to increased load is decreased mobility. Where it may be obvious that movement will often decrease in frequency and magnitude around the area closest to the load, this will be true everywhere else to extents too. If a lower back and pelvis are unable to move so freely, the legs, arms and neck, which all use the major muscles attached around the centre to stabilise the body during their relative movement, will also move less freely.
Post-pregnancy, some ladies return to their previous movement capabilities seamlessly without any special effort and some don't.
If you're in the latter camp, I suggest you engage in some gentle multidimensional movement of the pelvis and lower back noticing how it indirectly affects your legs, arms and neck.
When I say movement, in no way do I mean stretching. Instead, I suggest you take stretches as inspiration for your movements by halving the size of the movement into stretch, slowly moving in and out of it with no holding of any position and varying the direction slightly in each movement. Who says a toe touch has to be straight forward and down? Most of us have 5 toes we can move towards and plenty of other space around us to move in and out of.
Take the stretch out of stretch and move with variability to help yourself out of pregnancy movement patterns.
More ways to get back in the sporting saddle post-childbirth next time.
Arton "The mother of athleticism" Baleci
Float Sting - Sports Injury Rehab and Performance, Harley Street, London W1