Sunday, 5 November 2017

Can I plank after pregnancy?

Lets jump straight to it.... should you plank after pregnancy?

No.... to my Knowledge/Research/My Opinion.... No you should not plank straight after pregnancy... Not until your body is strong enough to hold your own bodyweight' with good technique... i.e at least 9 months post-pregnancy to be on the safe side

My first forward-facing plank; 11 months postpartum
What is a plank exercise?
As you can see above it is a bodyweight exercise that your whole body holds itself as stiff as a board primarily targeting your core- the muscles that connect your upper and lower body as well as your shoulders, arms and glutes.

Now I want you to think about getting your post pregnancy body into a plank position.... this would mean you are basically holding most of your bodyweight on your postpartum core- your tummy and back- AFTER 40 weeks (plus or less) of pregnancy!
Look at my body below... does my body look like it could hold it self strongly in my core? no it doesn't and most women's body won't. I wouldn't even recommend to the most fittest of women' to plank through their postpartum journey. I would consider myself to be quite/very fit and strong and I have only just started to front-face-plank and I am 11 months postnatal from my second child.
After 9 months of your abdominals stretching, muscles weakening, joints' loosening, your spine alignment changing to suit your growing uterus, Do you really think your core is ready to hold most of your bodyweight?...

This is my early postnatal body.. Do I look ready to plank? My uterus is still quite enlarged which takes at least 6 weeks to go down after birth, you can see I clearly have no abdominal strength and you can even see I have hardly any strength in my glutes/arms/shoulders and mostly a weak back too.  
Take a look at the requirement from a plank exercise' ...Your entire body faces horizontally down holding yourself up with your forearms/shoulders and toes meaning that your whole body from your toes to your shoulders are basically depending on your abdominals... Sounds kind of ouch right?... Now we all know what our postpartum tummy is like... a hanging/loose tummy- whether its skin or muscle we have all experienced it....I remember in my first post-pregnancy recovery I turned to my side in bed and my tummy just hung to the side too... and its blimen normal- you have just grown and carried a baby. However, allowing your tummy to just hang exposed in that plank position will cause you more damage than good- even if you can hold it for a hour.

Look at my early postpartum-body- if I started planking I could tell you what kind of tummy I would have now.. a very similar kind to that early postnatal picture above and most likely with diastasic recti (abdominal separation) too. Unfortunately this tummy shaping post birth is very common and it could happen to you or it is you- not just because you planked but maybe because you wanted a quick fix instead of the appropriate journey.
Planking too early post-birth can deform your postnatal tummy muscles because you really do too much pressure inappropriately on your abdominals that are already over stretched and out of shape. Planks do not focus on shortening the abdominals and focus on strengthening the transverse abdominis muscles. Planks focus on holding your bodyweight on your core so you ideally need to have strength prior to planking and you definitely need to know how to engage with your abdominal muscles.

So when can I plank?

I would advise that you plank when you are able to;

  • Connect with your transverse abdominis muscles 
  • When you can prevent your tummy muscles from hanging' (abdominal engagement)
  • When you have 1 finger or less gap between your abdominal muscles 
  • When you are able to stay out of your lower back
  • When you can comfortably hold your tummy without your tummy doming' (i.e tummy tensed in a point shape out)

This is when you can start to plank....And when you do start to plank focus on technique rather than how long you can hold it for.
 I have only just started to forward face plank and I am 11 months postnatal.. even when I teach my abdominal classes in my early postpartum journey I would demonstrate and not participate because it was too much for me and I didn't want to cause damage.

Now is the time more than ever to invest in yourself...
I run a 6 month postnatal- myMummyFitness journey that will guide your through a safe and effective recovery to provide you with appropriate exercises to help strengthen and rebuild you postpartum body. Strengthening your body to the mumma needs' and get your sexy on not back! You are totally allowed to invest in yourself. Join now and email me we can do this together;

myMummyFitness journey 
myMummyFitness journey  

Myself with my two boys

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