No matter how you feed your baby (#fedisbest), newborn life requires a LOT of sitting. Even at the 6 month mark there is still a ton of sitting, holding, and carrying - all things that can make your low back cry out in pain and your shoulders get closer and closer to your belly button.
Here are 10 moves to help open up your chest, release your low back, strengthen some of the postural muscles, plus a tip on how to adjust how you're sitting - particularly when on the floor. This is of course just a tiny sample of what can be done for posture, but these are my favs for postpartum.
For video links click here.
1. Reverse fly: Hinge at the hips, weight in your heels, feet shoulder width, dumbbells hang straight down from shoulders, arm remain straight as you squeeze shoulder blades together, lifting arms no higher than shoulders
2. Chest stretch - roller: Support your full spine (head included) on the roller, feet planted flat on the floor, arms stretched out to the side. Make slow snow angel movements with your arms up and down.
3. Side plank w/ rotation: From toes or knees, strong plank position from head to toe, reach top arm up and open through chest, rotate down to thread hand under armpit of supporting arm.
4. Quadruped thoracic stretch: On all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips, replace left hand with right (thank you @restorativesportstherapy for this extra adjustment!), and place left hand on the back of head. Rotate through your thoracic spine - I am tight in this area so yours may look much different than mine! Your spine is what you're aiming to rotate through, don't compensate by trying to reef your shoulder back without core rotation.
5. Dumbbell press w/ rotation: Much more challenging version of the quadruped thoracic stretch (thank you @coachjennswager for this one!). Start in a side lying position, knees at 90 degrees, stacked on top of each other. Dumbbell (or KB for more challenging stability work) in top hand. Rotation comes from your trunk, as you press the weight overhead and return it down you are actively pressing your knees into the ground to keep them from lifting (very challenging to do!).
6. Seated position adjustments: Take your low back out of tucked/rounded position with the use of a roller, bolster, yoga block, firm pillow, rolled up blanket - anything!
7. Face pull: Bands at shoulder height, keeps elbows high and in line with shoulders/chin as you squeeze shoulder blades together and down. Control the band back to starting position.
8. Roll chest: Not recommended for pregnancy or while breastfeeding (ouch!). Using a lacrosse ball, GENTLY massage your chest by rolling against the wall. Looks funny, but feels good.
9. Elevated plank or bear plank: For elevated plank maintain a strong position from head to toe (I demo what hips dropped or too high will look like). For bear plank, from all fours take a big breath in, on exhale lift knees 1-2 inches off the ground. Return to knees before starting next repetition, using one breath cycle per rep.
10. Banded pull-aparts: (I forgot to make a video for this one, oops!). Hold a super band (long circular band) straight out in front of your shoulders, palms facing the floor. Keep arms straight, pull band apart by engaging and squeezing shoulder blades together. Pull shoulder blades down and away from ears. Control the band back to starting position.
Bonus #11. See glute & hip flexor stretches in the Dec.12th post - these can be particularly useful for releasing low back pain.
Send this to a mama friend who could use some muscle pain relief!
P.S. I'm going to be launching an at-home online postpartum program in the New Year, and it will not only include strength workouts but also lots of mobility stuff just like this!