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Great Content By Mothers, For Mothers
Welcome to the special Mothers Week Edition of Best Fitness Content.
You’ll notice we’re changing things up this week. Rather than singling out articles, podcasts, videos, and posts as the “best of the week,” we’re sharing some of our favorite content produced by mothers, for mothers, regardless of when it was originally published.
We’re also dropping the “best” designation. It’s impossible to compare such wide-ranging content from such a diverse mix of authors, coaches, and physical therapists and conclude that any single article or post was objectively better than any other.
That’s especially true when the content covers such intensely personal topics as premature birth and postpartum depression, and when the person selecting the content isn’t a mother.
But I did have a front-row seat to the birth of my three kids—the first of which, as I wrote in this homage to my amazing wife, followed 83 and a half hours of labor. Yes, she really was in labor for three and a half days.
The next two births were (somewhat) faster and (marginally) less traumatic, but 24 years later, she still feels the aftereffects of that first one.
I won’t detail those aftereffects for privacy reasons. But if you look at the mix of topics in this special Mothers Week edition of Best Fitness Content, you can probably guess a few of them. And if you guess accurately, you’ll understand why I have so much respect for the mothers included here.
— Lou Schuler
How to Create a Safe and Effective Strength Training Program for Pregnant Clients — Marika Hart, Girls Gone Strong
Early in this comprehensive guide to training prenatal clients, Marika Hart shares an eye-opening stat:
“More than 85 percent of women will have children at some point in their lives. That means that among your female clients, almost 9 out of 10 will either become pregnant, are pregnant, or are postpartum.”
Most of your pregnant clients will benefit from strength training, including those who are new to the weight room. And it’s easy enough to find a list of conditions that make lifting inadvisable.
The rest is details, and when it comes to the health and safety of an expecting mother and her unborn child, the details are really important.
Three Reasons You Should Rehab Like an Athlete After Having a Baby — Tabitha Harder, The Postpartum PT
Rehab professionals have known for a while that the earlier an athlete begins the recovery process, the faster they return to their sport.
Tabitha Harder believes the same philosophy should apply to mothers. Like injured athletes, they have strained tissues, atrophied muscles, and site-specific pain, inflammation, and weakness.
The work you do with those postpartum clients will not only help them recover faster, it may else head off more series complications like diastasis recti and pelvic organ prolapse.
Cribsheet (four-part series) — Emily Oster, Slate
Emily Oster isn’t a fitness or nutrition pro; she’s an economics professor at Brown University. One of her papers is titled “Unobservable Selection and Coefficient Stability: Theory and Validation.”
The Cribsheet series, adapted from her book of the same title, offers evidence-based advice on the most confusing and contentious issues new parents face. The overall message is that we focus too much on things that don’t matter, and not enough on things that do.
Outstanding Podcasts, Part 1
Mental Health in Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Beyond – Alice Pickering and Brianna Battles, Practice Brave Podcast
Motherhood is when the most driven, goal-oriented woman suddenly finds herself in a world filled with phenomena she can’t control. She can’t control her physical or emotional health. Her body looks and feels different. She can’t sleep, work, eat, or exercise on her own schedule. That baby is the ultimate wild card, and the mood swings can be sometimes overwhelming. She alternately feels angry, guilty, sad, anxious, and so, so tired.
This podcast episode is for any mom who thought she was alone in having those emotions, or who thought she could exorcise those negative thoughts through exercise. As Brianna Battles and Alice Pickering discuss, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s the ultimate flex.
Videos We Love, Part 1
Winning Your Food Fight — Reshaunda Thornton
On the surface, Reshaunda Thornton’s message applies to every client, whether they’ve given birth or not. But we suspect it will be most helpful to moms who’re struggling to make better food choices with the goal of losing weight.
Using words like “fight” and “struggle” is part of the problem, Thornton says. It implies an adversarial relationship with food, when what you want is a partnership.
Think of it this way, she suggests: Would you choose to breathe the most polluted air? Would you go out of your way to drink the most toxic water? So why do we assume we’re powerless to choose foods that reflect the value we place on our health and well-being?
Outstanding Podcasts, Part 2
Premature — Sarah DiGregorio and Lucas Rockwood, The Lucas Rockwood Show
It’s one of the scariest words in a pregnant woman’s vocabulary, and one of the least understood. In this enlightening conversation, author Sarah DiGregorio shares what she learned when researching and writing Early: An Intimate History of Premature Birth and What It Teaches Us About Being Human.
Enlightening Social Media Posts
We linked these two posts for an obvious reason.
Prolapse: The Basics — Ashley Nowe
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Prolapse—you son of a 🤬 Postpartum “side effects” leave so many of us frustrated and feeling alone. Did you know that nearly half of you I surveyed on my stories have dealt with prolapse? It is common. You aren’t alone. And it CAN get better. First off—what is prolapse? Jeanice with @mypelvicfloormuscles just did a great post on this today. In short, it is where your bladder, uterus and/or bowels go from where they should be to…well…where they shouldn’t be. There are varying degrees and a pelvic floor physical therapist can best assess you. Jeanice also shows you how to self check in my program!! Prolapse is graded by stages. It can be obvious (like oh hey…that shouldn’t be there!) or less obvious (difficulty with a tampon, painful sex, constipation, etc). The first step in healing is to learn how to manage your intra abdominal pressure. Start by learning in a gravity-assisted position. Once you master your breath/core here, you can take that skill into standing. The most important thing I need you to know is that you don’t have to be limited to these types of “boring” exercises forever. You can progress. You will be able to lift weights and do the sports you love. But you have to learn the basics first. This is quite literally why I include Core Basics for free in my Strong Like a Mother (SLAM) program. It is boring, but IMPORTANT!! Please let me know if you found this helpful! #getmomstrong #prolapse #pop #pelvicfloor #bodyafterbaby #incontinence #postpartumfitness #workoutformoms #momswholift
Low-Pressure Prolapse Exercises — Julie Baird
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Inverted posture for heavy days! As crazy as it may sound, it is estimated that 50% of women of childbearing age will experience some level of Pelvic Organ Prolapse. . For those interested to learn more about the pelvic floor, I’ve created FREE Pelvic Floor 101 Guide – available in my Stories Before grabbing it, stay with me to understand how to prevent issues: . Let's imagine that the abdominal cavity is like a balloon. A balloon whose: * top is the diaphragm, * rear is the back muscles and spine, * whose bottom is the pelvic floor * and front, is the abdomen. The shape of this balloon can change, it can be squished in one of its dimensions or in multiple dimensions, and like a balloon any change of shape in part affects the entire cavity. However, our abdomen is not a balloon. The top and back (powerful muscle and bone) are much stronger than the other parts. The more delicate structures of the pelvic floor and ab midline are weaker. That is why the worst disorders often occur there. When the intra abdominal pressure is too great, our core won’t actually explode… but something still has to give, and the weakest areas suffer greatly. . This can lead to: * widening of a Diastasis Recti * tearing the linea alba (ex: umbilical hernia) * weakening of the pelvic floor muscles * or even developing a pelvic organ prolapse… When the supportive inner core muscles, fascia and ligaments are not able to hold your pelvic organs in place, and they descend… . To improve a prolapse you need to see the whole SYSTEM: posture / breathing / core strength are equally important to manage prolapse symptoms in your daily and active life. . Remember to get your FREE PELVIC FLOOR 101 GUIDE – available in my Stories
Videos We Love, Part 2
What Is a Diastasis, and Can You Fix It? — Sarah Ellis Duvall, Core Exercise Solutions
Diastasis recti is a natural and predictable consequence of pregnancy and delivery. But it’s also poorly understood. As Sarah Ellis Duvall explains, that lack of understanding makes it easy to exacerbate with unwise training decisions and methods.
More Great Fitness Content
[Social Media] Yes, Men Have Pelvic Floor Muscles Too — Jeanice Mitchell
[Podcast] Black Maternal Healthcare and Reproductive Justice — Tekara Gainey and Jessie Mundell, To Birth and Beyond
[Article] How to Deal With Your Child’s (Literal) Growing Pains — Lisa Nichole Folden, Healthy PhiT Physical Therapy
[Social Media] How to Get On and Off the Floor During Pregnancy — Sara Chan Reardon