While celebs sport their post-baby bodies in bikinis a few weeks after birth, most moms take many months, if not years, to get back into pre-pregnancy shape. Carrying 25 extra pounds, or more, takes a toll on a woman’s body, especially her back. Many post-partum fitness programs emphasize toning the belly, but often the area that needs the most attention is the back.
The shift of body weight during pregnancy can overwork and strain one set of back muscles while causing other back muscles to become weak. Hormones during pregnancy that aid in making the pelvic bones more flexible for childbirth can also make the binding tissues surrounding the spine overly flexible, causing back pain. After having a baby, many women experience chronic back pain that they did not have before the pregnancy.
The following exercises are designed to help a new mother to regain strength, flexibility and range of motion of the back muscles, as soon as a woman is cleared by her doctor to exercise. Note: every woman’s body is different, so before beginning any fitness regimen, please consult a doctor.
These simple exercises and stretches can be done at home using wooden chiropractic devices by Sae Arc, available at SaeArc.com or in chiropractors’ offices.
Massage pressure points and improve circulation in the upper back stretches using the Sae Arc 4-in-1 Adjustable Wooden Pillow, a stack of three smooth and rounded wooden pieces, with the top piece shaped like a half moon. While lying down, place your upper back on the wooden pillow with the arms stretched above the head for about 10 seconds to release tension. Cross the arms over the shoulders and rock side to side to massage the upper back.
To massage lower back muscles, sit on the floor with both legs outstretched, and place the wooden pillow under the buttocks and gently lay back until lying flat on the floor. Breathe deeply for approximately 10 seconds to stretch the back. Then bend the legs and rock side to side, massaging the lower back for one to two minutes. Lift the hips to remove the bottom level of the pillow and repeat the process until the device is completely removed from the lower back.
To align and stretch the entire spin, use the Sae Arch 2-in-1 Back & Lumbar Stretcher, a curved and padded wooden plank. Place the stretcher under the mid to lower back and raise arms over the head, resting them on the floor. Breathe through the nose and relax while holding the position for one to two minutes.
To exercise, stretch and straighten posture, use the Sae Arc Back Flex & Posture Device, a bow-shaped strip of wood. While standing, place the Back Flex and Posture Device behind the lower back with the curvature of the arc facing outward, away from the body. Place the forearms on the outer sides of the device so that the shoulders are pulled back. Keep the chin slightly lifted at an approximate 15 degree angle and relax the shoulders. Lift the knees and march in place, keeping the back straight and raising the knees one at a time.
To help realign the body and increase circulation, lie on the back and pull the knees in toward the chest. Place the flex and posture device against the back of the knees with the arc facing outward. Hold the device in this position and rock back and forth.
For best results, stretch twice each day, in the morning before breakfast, and in the evening before bedtime.