One Girls thoughts on Recovery

I think I must bore some of you Crossfit junkies with all my baby and pregnancy blurb. It’s funny because when I completed the business side to my personal training certificate, my business plan actually revolved around pregnancy so I guess this was inevitable.

I will try to keep this short…….

It is my personal mission to encourage and promote healthy active pregnancies and post-natal recovery so when Snoop is sleeping or distracted, I trawl the net. On one of these occasions I came across this article. I have copied an excerpt but the basic gist is that the athlete is reflecting on her return to training, and more to the point, competing after the birth.

My recovery and return to training took 5 months – is that too long or slow?

After reading this I think I made the right decision.

Go on have a read……..

“Finding the right boundaries for postpartum training was more difficult. “I probably returned to CrossFit a little too quickly after giving birth,” Richards-Lindsay admits about her return to training two-and-a-half weeks after giving birth.

“I tried a few push-ups, squats, and plank holds the week I returned from the hospital. I decided that it felt pretty good and knew that my ultimate goal of making it to the Games was only possible if I got started right away,” Richards-Lindsay says.

Finding the Limits

Although her workouts were “scaled and modified” to her comfort level, Richards-Lindsay explains that even those light workouts may have demanded too much from her still-healing body.

“I simply underestimated how much healing really needed to take place … I had diastasis recti [during pregnancy] and it still isn’t healed to this day because I didn’t give my abdominals a chance to heal and come back together,” Richards-Lindsay says.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Diastasis recti is a separation between the left and right side of the rectus abdominus muscle, which covers the front surface of the belly area.” It is common in newborns and pregnant women, and usually heals in the months following birth.

“I needed to give my pelvis, hips, abdominals, and back some time to strengthen and adjust after something as taxing as nine months of carrying a child and 24 hours of labor,” Richards-Lindsay reflects. “I had lied to my doctor on my six week check up, saying that I hadn’t been exercising yet. Obviously if there’s a timeframe set, there’s a reason.”

Throughout her post-birth training, being a “good mommy” was always her priority. “Sometimes I just didn’t want to leave her, so if I got three workouts a week, oh well,” Richards-Lindsay (Full article)

I can totally see why she wanted to return so soon. You all know why….because as crossfitters a competitive streak is part of our nature: we want to strive to push ourselves. We are invincible!

But competition aside we need to humble ourself to the true impact and cost pregnancy has on the female body.

Hormones that have made pregnancy possible don’t just go away when the baby is born! You need the same caution to impact, movement and intensity as you did for the 9 months you were pregnant.

When I say Cost, it doesn’t mean cost forever, as I stand I am living proof give yourself time to heal and you can build yourself strong again.

After Snoop was born the motherly side of me was wrapped up in being a good Mum but the Crossfiting side to me was dying to get back in the gym. It was like having a two little voices in my head.

I guess this is a perfect point to add that officially whether natural or not you should abstain from exercise for the first 6 wks. This allows your abdominals to return to there natural position. Any attempts before this could result in permanent damage!

I had the most extreme and most invasive type of birth and fully aware of the risks I had to ignore that little voice crying out for a hectic metcon!

The most obvious starting point for me begun looking at my everyday tasks.

I found myself finding even the simple job of closing a heavy drawer a huge strain on my tummy and operation site. I realised I was stooping as I moved, and even lifted myself out of bed differently!

Pelvic floor exercises and a short walk was about my limit, as even standing around for too long (probably related to posture also) was extremely uncomfortable. I needed to be proactive and correct my stance and posture for everything if I was going to get any where! Washing up dishes became a workout, opening and closing my heavy drawers were a test of ab bracing!

Slowly I began to feel a little more ‘normal’, time for a test I think………so I joined Andrew’s Friday lunch class and although I got through it I was uncomfortable, unstable, weak. I found myself holding back because I think I knew deep down that I wasn’t really at full health. It was only 3 months since the birth. Sound like a long time to you??? I challenge you to watch a video of a c section and then come back to me and tell me it’s too long!

I wanted to do it right. And that could only happen if I took the foundations and made them solid and by that I mean work on my strength, I want to add confidence too! (I needed to feel strong again before I could let rip on a few wods)

I gave myself a few more weeks recovery during which time I discovered paleo and embarked on a 30 day challenge. You gotta eat right to train right!

I started first just messing around with some light weights – squats, dead lifts, overhead press. Then a couple of wods on holiday in Australia.

Then came the Hit List. My way of focusing my training and giving myself goals to work on. I am officially one of the geeks in the gym who records every thing religiously. And why not it saves all that faffing and guessing weights.

So far this journey is around the 9month mark……

What had I achieved……..

Pre -pregnancy squat and overhead press weights and 1 pull up!

I felt I was ready to add a few more wods into my training alongside strength.

Being careful about recording weights and training over the next two months paid off because I now have 6 pull ups, 2 ring dips and my dead lift is getting closer to my previous double body weight max.

When did I realise I was absolutely back on form?

Smashing through Karen (150 wall balls for time 6kg 9ft target) in 5 min 51!

I still have my weaknesses like everyone, but I officially can no longer use the excuse “I’m still recovering” that makes my total recovery time 11months!!

Did I take too long to get here? I don’t think so, ask yourself would you send a

thoroughbred to the Grand National when they were at risk of further injury or not on form?

I reckon your answer is no.

I wonder in hindsight how different Taylor Richard-Lindsay’s approach would have been if she knew what she knows now? Would she have driven herself so hard so soon? So what recovery took me 11months! 11 months is nothing in the grand scheme of things, I’m strong and wiser to boot and I wouldn’t change it one bit!

(I just want to remind you that I am talking here about my experience which was recovering from a c section, which is quite different and a longer process then that of a natural birth but although this is on the more extreme end of the spectrum it is important to remember the body will take around 12 months to recover fully no matter how you deliver. Before embarking on any exercise after birth you must consult your doctor or mid-wife)


Sally Dixey is a Personal Trainer at Crossfit London in Bethnal Green

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