Continuing our recent hot topic due to the arrival of our wonderful, and very noisy, daughter today’s Blog looks at essential physiotherapy exercises required for those early days in parenting. It’s been inspired by my contorting myself into a variety of positions in an attempt to get my young daughter happy. It’s also been inspired by which muscles are hurting the most as I moved into the 3rd of hour of trying to settle her at 3am in the morning. It makes me think I should have been in the gym for about 6 months to prepare for her arrival!
How Can Physiotherapy Exercises Help Parents?
Having a baby is a shock. I mean a really big shock. You know it’s coming for about 9 months or so, well maybe 8 by the time you find out, but the warning signs are definitely there. No amount of emotional preparation can get you ready for the emotional and physical atom bomb that is a new born child.
You can at least try to prepare physically. From someone who should have known better the following exercises are the ones that I really should have done before the wife giving birth to take some pressure off my ailing body. As we all know when we’re under pressure we feel our aches and pains more as we discussed previously in our post 50 Shades Of Pain. But if we prepare well physically, maybe, just maybe, it might make the whole baby care thing just that little bit easier.
1. Baby Bicep Curl
Jeez my arms ache! Now I’m no gym monkey but my guns aren’t too bad. 35 years of swimming will do that to you. And they should be reasonably good at endurance type exercises. But hold a 6 pound baby in your arms exactly still for hours on end so that they don’t start doing that heart breaking, ear shattering wail again, is tough.
The good old fashioned bicep curl demonstrated by the scary lady on the left is a good way to get ready for such demands. I’d suggest even better, and more functional, would be some kind of static hold exercise. In physio speak this would be an isometric contraction. Probably best to use a barbell. But two dumb bells would be even more challenging. If you could get them to wriggle endlessly that would also make it even more real!
2. Russian Twist
This is obviously one of me in the gym earlier! You can tell by the physique. Ok so maybe not. But if you simply replace the ball with a baby it all makes sense. This is the one where you’re passing the baby between parents trying not to make any undue movement to wake the sleeping baby.
If can also be used at a quicker pace when the parents are desperately shirking responsibility for the screaming child. “No it’s you turn to settle her”. “No it’s your turn.” And repeat. For 3 hours.
This is truly a great exercise in the gym for a variety of reasons. But make sure you don’t overdo it. Build up to it gradually. To really get the functional effect of having a new child I recommend practising this exercise at 3am in the morning!
3. The Single Leg Lift
Ok, so maybe I should have done more core exercise rather than slating it as I did in this blog about the merits of Core Exercise. This one is for repeatedly getting in and out of the chair using just your midriff but not allowing any movement that might wake the baby. Never wake a sleeping baby. It’s just not worth it. In these opening weeks their life the most enjoyable times are when they’re asleep and look cute! As soon as they wake up it’s like all hell is breaking loose.
This picture is me by the way. Circa 2011. It’s the simplest, most accurate and can be the most effective core exercise. It’s a very pure core exercise with minimal chance of compensations. Place you hand underneath your back and engage your core muscles so that it flattens your back. Maintain this pressure on your hand throughout the exercise. Keeping the core engaged, in a controlled fashion lift the leg in the air about a foot and then lower back down. Have a breather and repeat.
4. The Plank
So I thought I’d take my shirt off in this for all you ladies out there. Or gentlemen who like gentlemen! Or ladies who like ladies who’ve never been tempted before! You have to cover all bases in Brighton. Obviously it’s not me… but I did have a dream about looking like this with my shirt off once.
Anyway, I digress. It’s all about stepping up those core exercises and being able to engage those muscles in a more functional position. Now hold this pose for 3 hours from 1am to 4am with a small child sleeping precariously in your arms and you’ll be ready for parenthood in no time!
Another rippling torso shot of myself I couldn’t resist… not! Anyway, ignore the over the top torso this is the position I find myself in frequently with child. Getting smoothly in and out of the chair desperately trying not to wake her. It’s a very smooth, slow controlled movement which involves the core muscles we spoke about above.
A great functional exercise to do in the gym or at home using just your weight to increase your muscular endurance. You can even do squats with child. Or if you’re still awaiting the arrival of you bundle of screaming, I mean joy, then you could replace the baby with similar shaped / weighted inert object. But there’s nothing quite like the real thing when it comes out. I’ve nicknamed our delightful Thea Wriggle Monkey. It’s seems to make sense.
Good Luck Parents!
To any parents new and old these exercises and it will help and might help you avoid some overuse conditions. For any expectant parents get in the gym and get busy! I wish I had! And good luck. To any parent out there. Everyone tells you how tough it’s going to be. You listen. You hear them. You agree it is going to be tough. And then you experience it. Only then can you fully understand what all parents were talking about.
If you found this article useful you may also enjoy our Blog What Mothers Need To Know To Avoid Burnout!