The Physical Therapy department at the Hendricks Regional Health YMCA offers a post partum pilates program to assist new moms in regaining whole body strength, especially core strength as well as improving posture often negatively impacted from pregnancy and caring for a newborn. I had the chance to take a group mat class which was led by Amy Burkholder, Staff Physical Therapist and Pilates Instructor.
The class began with some simple breathing exercises. The movements in Pilates are connected to how you breathe, so its important to focus on the breath and movement at the same time to sure ensure maximum impact. Its also a nice warm up to get the blood flowing and body ready for class.
After the warm up, Amy had us check to see how large the separation was in our abdominals. As your belly stretches to accommodate your growing baby, the abdominal muscles separate as well. And as most post partum moms know, your body doesn’t go back to its pre-baby state overnight. Your abdominal muscles are the same way and it takes time for those muscles to come back together. You can check the separation by lying on your back with knees bent. Place 2-3 fingers just above the naval. Gently raise the head as though looking at your belly. Palpate the separation between the muscles. Repeat at the naval and again just below the naval. Separation greater than 2 finger widths is known as diastasis rectus and requires some precaution and care to assist muscles back together. Normal is considered 1 finger width or less.
There were a wide range of moms at the class and we were all at different levels. I had less separation than another mom whose baby was only 3 months old, but my baby was almost a year older so its normal for everyone to have different results. I still have work to do to close the gap. After this check, we started class. The class consisted of basic pilates moves and Amy consistently reminded us to pay attention to our breath, something I appreciated as its easy to forget when you are focusing on getting the exercise. I was surprised at how the small movements can make your muscles burn so much! And while I had been trying to work out more regularly, the class showed me I still have a long way to go to build up my strength and stamina.
How to Learn More
If you are interested in working with Amy, please contact the Physical Therapy department at the Hendricks Regional Health YMCA (317) 272-4186. The program may be covered by your insurance. Amy provides one-on-one instruction and you will also be using a combination of mat and Reformer exercises. This program is a great way to help rebuild your abdominal strength!