THE DL ON POSTURE + PREGNANCY
POSTURE AND PREGNANCY – with Lenny Rose founder and Physio (+ 2x mamma) Rosie 🙂
So, what’s the deal with pregnancy and posture? Why are we so passionate about helping to support your body as it grows and changes shape during pregnancy and as a new mum? Read on to find out why posture is SO much more than looking more lithe, its all about hormones, mood and much much more!
Its unavoidable that there will be some significant changes to your posture over the course of your pregnancy (and breastfeeding) journey- this is par for the course as your belly and breasts expand, and shift your centre of gravity more forwards. As your bump get bigger and protrudes more forward, not only does your centre of mass move more forward, but your stance gets a little wider, and arguably there are some changes to the natural curves of your spine. It appears that your lower back arch, or lumbar lordosis increases, but there is some conjecture over this; more recent studies have suggested that its actually primarily an increase in the erector muscle activity rather than an increase in the lordosis that is the main postural change. Regardless, your lower back is under more load, and the rest of the spine notices as well, with an increased kyphosis (rounding of the upper back) and more forward head posture often the flow on effect of the below adjustments taking place.
The result? Neck pain, headaches, feeling dizzy and off balance, to name a few. SO what can you do about it?
Staying active throughout your pregnancy can bring greater awareness to posture, and continue to move the spine through some or all of its normal range – think prenatal pilates, yoga, light work in the gym, or even walking with an awareness of posture can be helpful. I’m a massive advocate of staying strong and mobile in pregnancy – it makes for an easier recovery at the other end, and every day I thank myself for all the heavy lifting (and deep breathing!) I do in the gym and on the yoga mat day in and out; When I have to pick my 2 boys up from the floor at the same time, and usually with a bag load of shopping or nappies over the shoulder, so a total of around 35kg, there’s the pay off right there ???? Working to strengthen the transverse abdominus (deep core) through functional movements, working the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, middle back, lats) can be your best friend in reducing back pain and maintaining as good a posture as you can given the top/ front heavy load you are carrying. (think squats, lunges, low step ups, lat pull downs, rows, for e.g)
A good supportive bra (like our Lenny Rose Ultimate) can also go a long way to assisting posture and taking some load from your neck and shoulders – with built in adjustable postural support, every pregnant and breastfeeding mammas’ best friend. Check out a recent blog I wrote on neck and shoulder pain for pregnancy and breastfeeding (with some great exercises you can easily do at home/ the office!)
But what I REALLY wanted to get a today is the non- physical changes that occur in your body with poor posture. There’s an amazing American social scientist, Amy Cuddy who has extensive research on posture and mood (you can check out her talks on TEDx); to summarise her work – when we sit in a slumped position, we tend to have higher cortisol levels (think stress, anxiety, depression) and lower testosterone (think less confidence). Her research showed that we need just 2mins of “power posing” (think upright/ erect posture and “buzz/ to infinity and beyond arms) to lower our cortisol significantly, and increase our testosterone – aka reduce our stress and increase our confidence. I feel like this simple info is total gold for new mums – when you already have the mix of hormones going crazy, are sleep deprived and going through a potentially complete change of identity (and have the feeling like you have no idea what you are doing!) – any small bit of help in the right direction can amount to monumental improvements in wellbeing. What if we could do ourselves this one favour, and switch on our feel good hormones a few times a day, and be conscious to avoid the stress hormone producing postures as much as possible? (think sitting on a ball for office work, moving between sitting and standing, and avoiding hunchng over your computer; new mammas think reclined breastfeeding or sidelying, or even just super propping yourself with pillows to alleviate pressure on your spine.
It makes sense if you think about it – confident and bubbly folk tend to be “larger than life”/ take up more physical space, and the reverse is true when you are feeling small, you tend to make yourself that way physically.
Give it a go, arm yourself with great postural knowledge and a regular Iphone reminder to reset your posture, move, perhaps bust out a power pose or two, and reap the benefits mamas!
Jump on over to lennyroseactive.com.au to hear about our pre-launch deals for our amazing posture saving (but still gorgeous) activewear for mums and mums to be 🙂