Why should someone start resistance training in the early postpartum time period? No
matter your birth story, postpartum is a time for healing and recovery. Body tissues have
been stretched and are in the healing process for months postpartum. The good news is – resistance training supports the healing of those tissues. Resistance training can
encourage those healing tissues to regain integrity. In order to change and adapt, our
bodies need load (in all senses, but in this case physically).
A common question I am asked by patients and clients is WHEN do I get to start
exercising again? People are hearing everywhere from 4 months postpartum to 2 weeks
postpartum. While we need to honor the tissue healing timeline in postpartum, we also
need to recognize that exercise can be therapeutic and is a healthy habit. The answer
to this question is highly individual and therefore – variable. Someone who experienced
a vaginal birth without tearing has a different recovery story than someone who
experienced a cesarean birth. Every birth has its own recovery journey, no matter how
similar the experiences may look.
I recommend typically that you wait at least two weeks before starting to resume
physical activity. Just like recovering from an injury, we need to gradually return to
exercise in postpartum. You might be able to deadlift 165 pounds, but that does not
mean you should at two weeks postpartum – even if it was a weight you were lifting in
pregnancy. Some people might start with easy walks wearing baby at two weeks, while
some might feel comfortable with light seated upper body exercises. Some people are
not ready to move their bodies in any sort of structured way until 6 weeks postpartum.
This is why it is helpful to work with a qualified professional who understands
pregnancy, birth, and postpartum combined with the healing that has to happen before
and during return to exercise. It is important to find someone who supports your
movement goals along with facilitating a strong postpartum recovery with their
guidance. The “how” of returning to exercise postpartum will look different for everyone,
and it should! We all have different goals for movement and our lifestyle.
Are you local to West Salem and looking for movement guidance during early postpartum? You can book a movement consult with me here.
I offer a self paced online Prenatal + Postpartum Fitness Class.
-Dr. Ellyn Halley