Logical Exercise Progression for Post Natal Women is NOT About Intensity!
It is about Intra Abdominal Pressure…
Current pre screening practices in Australia are focused on heart health and disease, and recommend exercise intensity based on the answers. While screening for heart disease in women is absolutely imperative (women are just as likely, if not more likely, to suffer heart disease as men, and with less obvious symptoms. More on this here), of equal importance is the condition of her abdomen and pelvis, especially if she’s had kids.
After all, you can get high intensity exercise with relatively low levels of intra-abdominal pressure movements (think exercise bike), and you can also get low intensity exercise with relatively high intra-abdominal pressure movements (think push ups). Intra-abdominal pressure is always there, but it is increased when the superficial abdominal muscles clench, for example, when sneezing, exerting effort, laughing, etc. There’s a great study on IAP and how body position and other factors affect it here.
The issue with IAP and relatively “weak” or vulnerable areas of the core is that when the superficial muscles clench in, the weaker area’s bulge out. When that bulge turns in to a hernia, prolapse, disc rupture, or incontinence we have an issue. What we DON’T have is a client any more. Some domes are easy to see, like the one below…
Others need to be diagnosed by a women’s health professional after a physical exam. Are you recommending this exam to your mama client? No matter how old her children are, you need to know whether or not her core is working well before you can prescribe movement. More on how to tweak your pre screening process to suit women in our free course here.
Now we all know a Post Natal women ought to learn the “knack“… that is, the skill of lifting her pelvic floor. But what then? What comes after that? Once she’s got the hang of it do we just forget about it and train like normal? Do you know the difference between a lunge and a deadlift in terms of IAP? So which one comes first? Is it possible to manage IA pressure? Actually it is.
The Burrell Education Single Day Pregnancy and Post Natal Education Courses teach you a concept called “Intrinsic Core Synergy“, which is also known as the “piston breath”, and then elaborate on what we call the “Kegal Continuum” (ie. whats next!). The continuum is basically a process to take your female clients, and progress them logically towards full function. We have a basics version called the 6-Step Restore Your Core and Pelvic Floor Program available online here.
But before you go on training your female clients, I want you to think about this concept of IAP. Educate your self on how to manage it, and which MOVEMENTS load it up or unload it. Only then will you be truly serving women in your sessions.