Tag Archives: pregnancy

My Attitude to Running has Changed.

In the last few weeks I have had a rush of enquires from ladies wanting to know where I stand on running.

As my attitude toward running during a pregnancy has changed quite dramatically since my pregnancy in 2010. I thought it might be something worth sharing.

Back then all I had was a pre/post natal course under my belt and not much else. My personal training experience with pregnant/post natal clients was limited and with no first hand experience, I started a blog and wrote down my training and how I felt. Initially spurred on because the course I had attended was centered around very gentle modes of training and as a crossfitter that just was not going to cut the mustard.

There was little information I could find at that point regarding CrossFit training during pregnancy so I lent on a commonly used expression frequently used when discussing pregnancy training “to listen to your body”. I took this quite literally. Running for me was not a problem even at 8 months! I felt fine, in fact better then fine. I even did a 5k race for life!

Following the delivery of my son and getting to grips with a new born I was quite keen to get back to training as quickly as possible. 6 wks after a c section I was fitting in short runs. Even as I write this I am shaking my head thinking how silly I was! But then I did not have much first hand experience to reflect upon. I was not really considering how running and other certain elements of training had impacted my pregnant body.

The long and short of it now, is that I believe unless we run professionally, running should be limited and at best avoided completely.

The pelvic area although strong enough to bare the load of a pregnancy, is not capable of absorbing the added impact of running without any consequences. Some of which have profound effects on our quality of life.

That does not mean training needs to be soft, fluffy and gentle. Training needs to be smarter! As for subbing running in your routine, try for example heavy farmers carries. They are not at all the easy option and provides a great sub during most CrossFit wods that include a run. Cycling, maybe not on the roads but in a park or common still gets the wind through your hair the same as a run would.

I still have not explained why my attitude has changed?
The short answer, experience and education!

After Sebastian’s arrival I studied with Jenny Burrell, a leading women’s health teacher. Jenny’s field of speciality is looking at factors that negatively impact pelvic floor health during the life of a women, from pregnancy to menopause.

We discussed running at length and shared my experience which was positive, so I thought. During her teachings She had me understand how good the body is at compensating during a pregnancy. How quickly bodies adapt and cope.

The fact that I felt fine running was just my body coping and because I did not notice any discomfort in that moment, I continued running.

Since having Sebastian I have been plagued with knee and ankle issues that I did not have before. I have blamed everything from squatting frequency to lack of stretching but honestly none of that is any different to before I had my son. I now lay the blame at my slap-dash attitude to training during my pregnancy! Jumping on a box, running 400m as many times as possible probably wasn’t the smartest move, regardless of how I felt. I could have scaled to a step up or a farmers carry and had just as good a workout.

How does running and jumping cause these problems?
The pelvis is a pretty intricate piece of kit. There are numerous small attachments and insertions of muscles and ligaments.
Pregnancy see these muscles and ligaments strain under the pressure of a growing uterus. They are already under stress.

The more we run/jump the greater stress they take on board. Imagine accumulating 9months of this added strain, then not forgetting to consider hormones that make our joints and muscles more supple during pregnancy and conditions become perfect for unwanted damage to start building up.

Consequences of this build up could be anything from aches and pains, weakness in areas that previously felt fine. Pain during intercourse or continence issues. Weight gain trouble. If we only notice the damage some time after pregnancy we often do not even relate this back to what we did in our pregnancy.

1# Training Tip for an awesome recovery;
Avoid running, ditch the plyometric workouts, lose the skipping rope, pay attention to recovery and do not rush the process!!!

Consider the Postnatal period as 12 months from when you have your baby. A 12 month outlook is a realistic approach to fixing all the stress pregnancy and a new born involves. Start from the core centre (your tummy) and work toward the extremities in a logical and progressive way.

For further personal training, advise and guidance you can reach me @ sally@crossfitlondonuk.com

What did you get up to at the Weekend?

Me?

I was at CrossFit London attending the Coach Chris Sommer, Gymnastic Bodies Seminar.

In my pursuit of better teaching and movement I was hoping to learn some really cool things and refine some of my teaching ability.

What I walked away with were some tidy skill progressions and moves with a side helping of motivation and focus.

The weekend was broken into two days the first of which was based around the importance of mobility.

As a group this area was sorely missing. We were meant to be mobilising for the first 15-20 minutes of the session but 1 hour in to it and we were still writhing around on the floor pulling pain faces. A clear take home from this is the need to implement a clear and progressive routine that would allow good practise of gymnastic foundation movements.

I have always known this is the area of fitness that I am lacking. I am in a pattern of rushing through the stretching bit in favour of the bigger faster movements. Don’t we all.

So why am I going to listen to Coach Sommer? Allow me to degress a little.

As a child I really wanted to do gymnastics. I loved the cool moves, but I hated the teacher. In hindsight she was probably just a kid herself and was only coaching the way she had been coached, which was pretty much shout and bully the girls until they break. Well I broke after a term. I did not like getting shouted at and for that I stopped.

Now in adulthood my gymnastic dream pretty much faded. Whoever heard of adult beginner gymnastics?

Well funny thing is in 2010 my boss Andrew Stemler scheduled CrossFit London’s first Beginner gymnastic classes.

A chance to re-live my dream, only to be put on hold again by the news of my pregnancy. In keeping with pre-natal fitness guidelines I stayed away from aquiring new skills during my pregnancy and just scaled back CrossFit to an appropriate level. Leaving gymnastics on the back-burner.

Now after a long post natal period of recovery, I have been slowly looking at gymnastic skills and weaving them into my usual CrossFit training. And of course because I am impatient and the movements look cooler then the mobility I have been missing steps in progressions and skipping beats in mobility, all in all which showed me up in front of Coach Sommer.

So back to full circle. Why am I going to listen to Coach Sommer and mobilise my butt?

Because unlike my childhood attempts at gymnastics I am in charge of my training so it is only me to answer to, not a young coach out for blood.

It has never felt very realistic before as gymnastics has always seemed like a youth window that I missed. Working with Coach Sommer and seeing some of his advanced students, gave me re-newed energy for success. They can demonstrate amazingly cool moves on the rings or pararell bars and can tell you they were not child gymnasts but started maybe 2,3,4,5 years ago.

Great motivation for an adult beginner to hear.

And so it begins.

I have just finished writing out my training program for the next 12 weeks.

I can not wait to see what I can achieve by paying a little more attention to the finer things.

Here are some of the photos of the weekend.

Mobility through the Pelvis
Mobility through the Pelvis
Handstand drills
Handstand drills
Looking at upper back strength
Looking at upper back strength
Shoulder Prep
Shoulder Prep

Thanks Coach Sommer.

 

Sally Dixey is a CrossFit London personal trainer and pre/postnatal fitness coach based in East London.

Contact Sally directly on sally@crossfitlondonuk.com

 

Salt – To add or not?

Salt gets a bad rap.
We blame it for an array of diseases and aliments, from high blood pressure to autoimmune disease.
Whilst I fully agree excessive salt is no good I want to show a positive side to salt and how in careful amounts it can be added to home-cooked weaning foods.
As parents it is something you are advised by your health care professional along with numerous weaning books, not to add salt to your baby’s food until reaching at least 12 months old. Even then you are advised to add very sparingly.
I  spoke to my usual go-to person, Auntie Mary, on this subject. Her childrearing time was  pre-baby food ranges  and before many of today’s do’s and don’ts were introduced. She told me how she used  Oxo cubes to add flavour.  This prompted me to look into this in greater detail.
Salt is an  essential mineral, meaning it is necessary to sustain optimal health.
It supports enzyme function, hormone production, transport of energy and protein, to mention just a few. During pregnancy it becomes even more important as it now has to support the growth of both baby and mother.
In pregnancy, salt is responsible for :
⦁ supporting the development of brain cells, respiratory, nervous and cardio system.
⦁ metabolic function.
⦁ birth weight.
The baby gets their salt from the mother’s diet,  just as they do with all the other vitamins,  and minerals.
This continues during the nursing/breast feeding period and will support the quality of milk produced. For formula-fed babies, products will contain the correct levels.
Salt has such a vital role in a baby’s development that in premature babies it is given as a supplement.
If salt is so crucial why do we advise adding NO salt to weaning foods?
If I reflect on the way I salt my own food I probably can from time to time be a bit heavy handed, but does the recommendation of NO salt  fix the possibility of excessive salt added by a heavy handed, busy and  stressed-out Mum?
 Are we so afraid of salt in adulthood that  we are afraid to include a healthy amount to our childrens’ food.
Not everyone has time to spend making home-cooked meals. So in an age of convenience and processed food, salt levels could already be too high.
Until looking further into this subject I, like you, followed guidelines and kept salt out of my son’s food. Now he is 18 months I am adding a little. I don’t measure out how much I use but instead  rely on my instincts and taste. I try to make the food slightly salty without being overly salted.
If I had to do it again would I change this?
Yes, now I have a greater understanding of the role salt has to play I would start adding salt from the weaning stage.  I home cooked 100% of his meals which  gave me absolute control over what he ate. In my view this is the only way you can be assured they get exactly what they need. Including a healthy salt in take. If I could not cook all of his meals from scratch I would definately be reading all the labels very closely.
If you are still not convinced of salts important role, between 1984-1991 a  law suit awarded  $27 million to two familes. They blamed the chloride-deficient formula for their children not reaching their full intellectual potential and poor health. Whilst this is on the more extreme side of the salt debate but relevant nonetheless.
Has this changed the way you feel toward the weaning period? Tell me your thoughts.
Sally Dixey is a Crossfit London Coach in East London.
For Pregnancy and Post natal fitness and recovery consultations contact Sally on sally@crossfitlondonuk.com

Post-Natal Recovery – harder than it has to be

The English are typically known to love a queue, have a stiff upper lip and can’t stop moaning about the National Health Service.

Whilst I think the NHS is an amazing resource to have with amazingly hard working people who work within it, there is an area where I believe much could be improved.

Continue reading Post-Natal Recovery – harder than it has to be

Pelvic Floor Recovery

Pelvic Floor…… It is a bit of a ‘giggle word’. A word that is a bit naughty. But the sad truth is that pelvic floor damage through pregnancy, menopause or from a number of other medical conditions can seriously affect your enjoyment of life.

Training with me incorporates the fabulous knowledge I gained working alongside Jenny Burrell. Jenny is a true pioneer in pelvic floor care.

It doesn’t matter at what stage of life you are at, be it menopause or just had a baby. You can decide that you wont accept tena lady’s ooops media line any longer so lets start rebuilding a solid core.

By using simple but extremely effective movements you can start to understand the connection between pelvis and tummy and how you can work them in a fun, safe and functional way.

Drop me an email for real advise and guidance @ getsallyd@gmail.com

 

 

A Brief History of Pregnancy

An article idea was given to me by a Facebook friend -The Changing Face of Pregnancy and Exercise.

Great idea, I thought what might make this even more interesting is a look back over history at what shaped the way we looked at pregnancy.

Ancient Times sounds like a very idyllic time to have a baby.

People were spiritual believing birth and death were like the sun and moon. Cycles of life.

Faith was put in women to carry and deliver children without male interference and almost entirely delivered in an upright position. Women continued with their day to day tasks until the baby was born. (The only exception to this rule is Greek and Romans, who had a distrust for women)

Labour pains were considered as a reaction to the baby fighting his way out of the womb. Death rate in delivery was very low.

Medieval Times to 17th Century is where things start to get a bit ugly.

Attitudes were starting to change as conflict erupted between the church and ancient traditions.

Labour pains became punishment for Eve’s sins.

There was little to no sanitation. Rooms were made dark and warm with straw scattered on the floor to absorb any fluids.

C Sections were performed during this time but on dead mothers.

Women were encouraged to spend the last few weeks of pregnancy in bed resting.

During these times it seems that a little more intervention started to take place and delivery became far less serene.   Death rate were still relatively low but certainly creeping up.

The next era to make there mark was the 18th century and the beginning of science.

The forceps were introduced in 1740! No antiseptic though!

Intervention was far more aggressive and common place and is when delivery started to make it’s way into hospitals (though upper classes thought this was very common and continued to have home births)

Living conditions were poor at this time, hygiene was still a long way off.

The nutrition of expectant mothers was dreadful which all led to increasing rates of death in labour. It didn’t seem to occur to the doctors how external factors impacted the death rate and chalked it up to the ‘danger of child birth’ this only seemed to make matters worse as intervention at this time was not as sophisticated as it is now.

Times started to change in Georgian to Regency Times.

Moving back to nature was starting to produce more normal births and a trend begun. Just as progress was picking up speed, the death of Princess Charlotte after 50 hour of labour, plunge England into mourning probably only ever seen again on that scale when Princess Diana died.

Shops closed for 2 weeks. People from every class wore black arm bands. People looked for a scapegoat. Dr Croft who attended to Princess Charlotte fitted the bill and after weeks of fingers pointed at him, he committed suicide.

Child birth from here on took a much more aggressive tone. Birth was seen as hard and very difficult process. Hygiene and better living did help but death rates were still very high. Activity during pregnancy was frowned upon, many women disappearing from society until after birth.

Victorian Era – A time when women were to be seen and not heard. Where women were seen as fragile frail creatures who were entirely to blame for miscarriage. Citing over exertion as the probable cause. You can imagine what this did for activity levels during pregnancy.

Yuck!! Pregnancy and a Corset!!
Yuck!! Pregnancy and a Corset!!

Pain relief became common place. Even Queen Victoria used chloroform. And the first successful cesarean was carried out in 1882.

Great strides were being made in the medical field during this time but a women’s natural ability to deliver, something she had been doing for thousands of years was wildly underestimated.

It is not until present day that we are now moving back to the idea that a women can deliver without medical intervention or drugs. Birthing centres were first introduced in America during the 1970’s.

Delivery reverting back to standing and squatting positions. Death rate over the last 50 years have plummeted

This marked the beginning of a new wave of women who wanted to give birth the way nature intended. Intervention is only used in emergencies and drugs offered in birthing centres are limited to be gas and air. Birthing pools and hypnotherapy becoming far more popular.

The advise to stay active during pregnancy is now picking up pace, with special classes being programmed and courses to educate fitness professionals increasing in popularity.

Slowly and I mean slowly people are starting to view pregnancy in a new light. Women is seen as a powerful force who is not only looking out for her own health by staying active but also giving her unborn child a great start too.

Still there are a lot of negative views of exercise, particularly something like Crossfit.

I love the photo’s of my friend Rachel Steadman during her pregnancy. The irony between the two different shots.

Accaptable – Holding her daughter overhead.

Unacceptable – A kettelbell Swing

Both of equal weight, it’s probably less awkward in fact to swing the bell.

Why such a view??

Because we have lost sight and forgotten that pregnancy is as old as time.

Looking at the history things only got worse the more we interfered, the less active women were and as cities and villages became crowed and unclean.

I am not suggesting we revert back to ancient times and bang clubs but we could learn a lot from how our ancestors view life, birth and death.

If a women has always done an activity,  carry water buckets on her head or swing a kettlebell why does she have to stop?

Please lets be sensible about how we look at a training pregnant women. I bet she is more in tune with her own body and more clued up about her limitations then you think.

(If you are pregnant and want to continue training I would always advise to seek out some professional guidance first and consult your doctor)

 

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

 

Pregnancy in the Developing World

When I think about developing world pregnancy I am amazed to see images of women still continuing to do the same manual work they did before pregnancy.

It really drives home the message, that what you did before pregnancy is still achievable during pregnancy.

Do you think it even entered her mind to stop what comes so naturally??

Of-course not!

Here are some of my favourite images.

It doesn't look like pregnancy stopped them!
It doesn’t look like pregnancy stopped them!
8 Months in and she is still lifting weights!
8 Months in and she is still lifting weights!

Manual labour and Pregnant?????? Didn't stop them

Manual labour and Pregnant?????? Didn’t stop them
Post-Natal and very active
Post-Natal and very active
Pregnant & Working hard still!
Pregnant & Working hard still!
Pregnancy and Squat? Hell yeah!
Pregnancy and Squat? Hell yeah!
One tough looking pregnant lady!
One tough looking pregnant lady!

 

(I am not suggesting you squat or take up manual labour if this was not already part of your pre-pregnancy life. Form and technique is very important so you need advice and a bit of guidance before you start squatting for England and baby. Please ensure your doctor has OK-ed exercise during pregnancy)

 

Sally Dixey is a Crossfit London Personal Trainer in Bethnal Green

 

A bit of a practise Workshop @ Crossfit Bold

“Do something everyday that scares you”

– A little saying I try to follow, and defiantly fulfilled last night as I ventured South-west to meet up with Harri, her intern Marlo and a blooming group of pregnant ladies all keen to keep up crossfitting during their pregnancy’s.

I have delivered workshops before but they have either been exercise and movement driven and or with the help of Andrew, Kate or Steven.

This was the first time for me sitting in front of an audience discussing the benefits of continued training, how to look at adaptions and scales and what special consideration would be needed. All by myself.

If I said I was cool calm and collected I would be a cheat, as in fact I was a total bag of nerves.

Despite having an order and plan, under the spotlight it all went a bit freestyle-e. I think my brain had a bit of a panic so my mouth took over for a while. Once I had relaxed though, things started to feel a bit more chilled and into my mo-jo.

I still have a bit of work to do! No matter I know now that I need to work on speaking under pressure and keeping to the plan.

It’s all a learning curve.

I hope the ladies found the information useful. It was a great help for me to sit in front of them and has given me tones of food for thought and things I need to work on and develop.

Thanks again Crossfit Bold.

 

Watch this space for further information on future Crossfit Pregnancy Workshops!

 

Sally Dixey is a Crossfit London Personal Trainer in Bethnal Green

Pelvic Floor 101

If I were to ask a room full of people ‘what are kegal exercises?’ I’m sure it would be all the women’s hands that would shoot up.

For those of you who don’t know, kegals are pelvic floor exercises that women are advised to do during their pregnancy to help avoid embarrassing ‘leaks’.

Embarrassing leaks are not confined to women who have had children, cosmetic companies spend a lot of money targeting women in general, which sweeps under the table the fact that men can suffer too. So although this is a pregnancy focussed health and fitness blog the below holistic approach could apply to anyone.

The pelvic floor (or pelvic diaphragm) consists of muscle and tissue that covers the area below your hips, keeping lots of your important bits separate. It also has important functions during childbirth helping the fetus navigate through the pelvic girdle i.e. helping contain the baby until the head is ready to engage.

So what right?

Well when I first had my first few mid-wife appointments I was told I should be doing my kegals if I wanted to say fit “down there”. This never seemed right to me and I never bothered doing them. I felt that I would be much better served by performing squats regularly and working on posture and body awareness.

Whilst pregnant I had no problems with those embarrassing leaks I was warned about and have no issues presently so for me,  I am glad I did not waste time with kegals.

I have since read a great article which further confirms my doubts regarding kegals.

According to recent research published by Rehab Management, pelvic floor incontinence has been linked to postural alignment and weak glutes. Interestingly the act of squeezing and releasing the pelvic floor (the simplest way to explain kegals) adds to the tightness of the muscle and neglects the length. Over time you tighten the muscle and by doing this reduce optimal length-tension relationship. When the pelvic floor is not functioning adequately the result is an inability to control your urge to ‘go’ or the frequency with which you need to do so, and at worse cause infection.

From a training perspective a shortened pelvic floor are key factors in stress incontinence (imagine sneezing or laughing and a bit of wee coming out! That’s stress incontinence) and is a worry when added intra-abdominal pressure is increased. I was starting to put together a picture of someone who cannot control their lower back, bad posture and a weak bottom, frantically doing their kegals without success.

The research continued to highlight a holistic approach to pelvic floor health looking closely at posture and core strength rather than isolating the muscle itself. As a CrossFitter this makes perfect sense as to we get strong by working the whole body as one unit.

Where does this leave me with kegals? In a healthy active pregnant lady I wouldn’t prescribe them.

I would look at the bigger picture, addressing posture and body awareness to the developing changes in her body. I would recommend squats regularly both with weighted resistance and without. My response is simply squats over kegals – they provide a much better and more natural way for the pelvic floor to do its job the way nature intended.

Please be aware that past 37 weeks pregnant deep squats are not advised as they can cause an early rupture of the membranes (early sign of labour).

 

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

 

Should you drink Protein Shakes while Pregnant?

Interestingly when I researched this topic almost entirely the sites found were US based.

What does this say about our side of the water?

Either we use protein supplements less or as a much less active island the question to shake or not to shake while pregnant just doesn’t come up on UK Mum networking sites.

Anyways here is the best answer I could find.

A pregnant lady requires roughly 71 grams of protein a day more if carrying twins. This works out at about 10 grams more then usual give or take.

While I believe we should be getting our protein intake from whole foods some struggle eating meat and protein rich foods.

Some choose the supplement route, using brands such as Maxi-muscle and MyProtein. If you have taken them before pregnancy it may not occur to take a look at the labels to see if they are OK to take during pregnancy.

Often there will be a disclaimer on the label stating not recommended and that is for a good reason.

A lot of these products are combined during manufacturing with added vitamins, minerals and herbs, some that are not appropriate for pregnancy.

It is also worth noting that artificial sweeteners are also not very desirable during pregnancy

Some studies have even shown these to contain heavy metals although they were within the safe guidelines. I think it’s prudent to ask your doctor for alternatives they could recommend.

You could however make your own shake up using a low fat yogurt mixed with peanut butter or fruits. You could throw in a tsp of flexseed oil for good measure -(this is of-course providing your not on a paleo diet)

I found this site quite useful for further information on the subject.

 

Sally Dixey is a Crossfit London Personal Trainer in Bethnal Green