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6 Ways To Improve Back Pain Post Pregnancy

I could talk (write) for hours about all the different things women experience postpartum but back pain seems to rank high on the list for new moms. Not really surprising at all when you think about all the demanding tasks in a mama’s day that requires bending, carrying, lifting and feeding; usually with a baby in hand, causing back muscles to work in overtime.  I experienced some back pain towards the end of my pregnancy that made sleeping at night damn near impossible by the time I reached 34 weeks. Carrying around that amount of weight for 9 months can take a toll on the body, especially the abdominal muscles, which need to stretch to make room for the delivery.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to help with postpartum back pain. As soon as I was cleared by my healthcare practitioners , I made chiropractic care and functional training a priority to help with my postnatal recovery. With the help of my chiro Darcy Worthylake, I have recently introduced these 6 spine exercises to improve my back health.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that you could actually make working on back health a fun activity at home with you and your bub. Even though she’s only 7 months, I integrate Maxwell into some of my exercises at home and not only does it make it more fun for me, but it’s also a great way for us to bond. In her mind, she’s having the time of her life playing with mama while I’m benefiting by improving my core and back health.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

It is surprising how by just adding a few exercises to your day can make a world of a difference giving you more support while carrying, lifting and holding your baby; whom only gets heavier as each week passes. If you’re a new mom and experiencing some discomfort due to your day-to-day tasks for your baby, there are four simple exercises you can do at home to help for post partum back pain:

Tips On How Improve Your New Mom Back Pain With Your Bub

Pelvic Bridges

  • Lie on your back, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground.
  • Place your baby on your pelvis with their back against your thighs.
  • While holding your baby in place, slowly push your hips up towards the ceiling.
  • Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Keep your abdominals tight to avoid sagging your lower back. Inhale as you slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Plank

  • Lay your baby on the ground; face up, while kneeling in front of them.
  • Place your forearms on either side of your baby and lift your body off the ground.
  • Keep your back in neutral spine position and engage your core by contracting your abdominal muscles. Avoid letting your hips fall or stick up in the air.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Stabilizer

  • Lying on your back, bend your knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet in the air.
  • Stabilize your baby so they are resting on your shins and hold onto their hands.
  • Engage your core and hold this position for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Arm & Leg Extensions

  • Get down on all fours with your baby lying on their back and parallel to your chest.
  • Engage your core and slowly lift and extend your left arm and right leg at the same time while maintaining a neutral spine position.
  • Hold this position for 3 seconds, then lower your limbs and give your baby’s belly a tickle as you return to starting position.
  • Repeat on the opposite side, lifting right arm and left leg.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Before you begin working on back mobility or any kind of exercise, consult your postnatal practitioner and get cleared to return to exercise. For the safety of your little one, you will want to make sure that your newborn can hold their head up on their own if you’re going to include them in any of these exercises. If you experience any discomfort or pain in your back while performing any of these exercises or persist after trying them, visit your chiropractor to develop a treatment plan for your recovery.

This post is in partnership with the Ontario Chiropractic Association but all views and opinions are my own.

5 Things You Should Consider When Looking To Hire A Trainer

I am working with a trainer for the second time in my life. The first time was while I was pregnant with Max (because I needed someone to force me to dial down and modify my workouts) and now postpartum. For years my workouts have always been with my team, a personal strength coach during my years playing tennis or workouts I created for myself. Getting back into a groove in the gym post pregnancy has been tough. Well, at least for me it has been. My body just wouldn’t move the way it used to and I was SO DAMN WEAK. I could have easily used my pelvic floor and wrist issues as an excuse to delay the hard work that was waiting for me because I was getting so discouraged but I figured if not now then when? And let’s be honest, when you’ve just had a baby people give you a free pass and tell you that you look great no matter how washed you look. If you’ve had a baby you know what I’m talking about, “Oh girl please, you JUST had a baby like yesterday and you look amazing!” But for my mental health and self confidence I had to get moving again and enlisted the help of a trainer.

There’s been so many of you sliding into my DM’s lately asking for advice on trainers like; how to find one, who is reputable in the city and why I’ve made SWAT my home for training and workouts? For me, the choosing SWAT Health was an easy decision. I needed someone who understood my limitations that came with postpartum fitness. That means, having the knowledge to put me through a Functional Movement Screen before taking a couple weeks to focus solely on creating a solid foundation again. With the plan of eventually progressing to a more intense program. A trainer who could be creative enough to come up with challenging workouts with the proper modifications for my wrist injuries. Not an easy task when it’s impossible to load any weight onto your hands. Most importantly, even though I am retired, I want to still train like an athlete. This meant the person chosen for the task probably needed to have been an athlete at some point too or experience training them, in order to come up dynamic workouts I would enjoy. I couldn’t think of anyone better than SWAT Health’s Co-Founder Kyle Ardill. The SWAT concept is based on a 360 approach to health and wellness incorporating chiropractic, physiotherapy, and massage into their offering. Since my body needs serious rebuilding right now, I am taking advantage of ALL of it. It’s been a crucial component to my journey because Kyle, Darcy (Chiro) and Phil (RMT) can all communicate to ensure they are providing me with the right rehab program within their respective disciplines to get me results. The education of the PT staff at SWAT is so diverse, the team has you covered whether you’re looking to do power lifting, HIIT/cross training, athletic based training, or group class workouts.

Kicked off my training program on January 8th with an FMS – Functional Movement Screen

So how do you find the right personal trainer? Things have gotten a little interesting in the fitness industry because of social media and it has certainly turned into a hot topic. With so much information at people’s fingertips thanks to the   internet and weekend fitness certification courses, becoming a personal trainer has replaced “handbag designer”, and “DJ” as the new fallback career in 2018. But here’s the thing folks, knowledge in personal training is not measured in a  CanFit Pro certification or having a big social media following. I think it’s also important to point out, a person’s physical appearance on Instagram doesn’t necessarily tell the whole picture. Looking fit doesn’t always mean someone has the knowledge base to train clients. There are loads of folks on the internet sharing their transformation before and after photos and using this as marketing tool to get clients and actually charge them money, which is appalling. More often than not, these transformation trainers as I like to call them, usually have leaned out because they stop putting garbage in their mouths, stopped binge drinking and started working out a bit. Not because of any well thought out training program they expertly developed for themselves. Yet, they are selling training to uneducated consumers who think they are getting a deal because their prices are competitive. And nobody should just assume that someone is a fitness expert because they have the word “fit” in their IG handle. I could go on and on but I think the point here is that people need to be informed, know what to look for and expect when hiring a professional in the field of fitness. If you’re thinking about a finding a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals, I applaud you for making this first and very important step in your fitness journey.

Here’s 5 things you should consider when looking to hire a personal trainer:

  1. Certification vs. Experience. This is usually the first mistake many people make when they begin their search for a trainer. Instead of doing their due diligence and finding out how what a trainer’s experience is in terms of diversity in disciplines, they feel satisfied knowing that the person they have chosen to train them is certified. If you’re pregnant or a new mom, the goal should be to find someone who has worked with prenatal and/or postpartum clients. You may want to know if that person has experience training an athlete, has worked with a rehab client, who has the knowledge base to change up a client’s programming on training day if they are stressed or walk into a session injured.  Someone who is passionate about fitness and continues to educate themselves through courses and programs. A trainer who reads and does research, always wanting to learn because things are always evolving. Anyone can get a certification in personal training in 48 hours but not just anyone has the extensive knowledge base to tackle a wide range of training scenarios. You want a trainer that can provide a wide range of results for a wide range of the population.
  2. Authenticity. Yes folks, your trainer should be authentic…in other words living the lifestyle. And guess what? Your trainer should also be fitter than you, not the other way around. Ever. I never could understand how people would spend their hard earned money on a trainer that looks like a bag of milk. Your trainer shouldn’t be eating their weight in chicken wings or drinking energy drinks/soda. You wouldn’t hire a dentist with bad teeth, a lawyer that has never won a case or an accountant that doesn’t have their books straight. You need someone that has some credibility. Someone who is not a contradiction to the system. Someone who not only talks the talk but walks the walk.
  3. Results. What is a coach/trainer without results? Results are everything. Take the time and do your research. Ask your potential trainer for “receipts” aka show you results they helped their clients achieved. If they can’t show you results you can applaud and admire, then how can they help you reach your goals?
  4. Good Communication. This person should be an excellent listener and communicator. They have to hear what you’re saying. They can’t simply force you to do what they think you should be doing. It has to be a two way street; where they are providing you information and recommendations based on their experience in similar types of situations and the information you have given them. You both should be working together as a team. Your PT should be open and available to answer your questions and concerns outside of training via phone, email or in person. Last but not least, an excellent trainer will be able to fully explain why they are having you do the exercises in each of your workouts.
  5. Personalized Programming. There are a lot of IG famous people, Insta coaches and a plethora of template programs that people are purchasing online. You cannot pay money for a program that is not personalized. I repeat, you cannot pay for a training program that is not personalized. If that is the route you choose to go, there are tons of free options available online. Your program should be created specifically just for you based on where you are and what you want your end result to be.

Train Hard, Snack Smart with Wonderful Pistachios

The two most important factors that play a role in your overall fitness are 1) how you train/workout and 2) how you eat and snack. Everyday I see an alarming amount of people on social media posting their workouts and sharing their runs but no real progress. Most often than not, the reason behind this is poor diet or them not doing the amount of training they claim to be doing on social media. For me, it’s always been simple. I like to stick to functional workouts based on basic training fundamentals, keep my body guessing by frequently mixing up my works and ALWAYS snack smart. And I love the idea of athlete inspired workouts. Why? Because I know they are effective and how could it not be cool to train like some of the best athletes in the world?

For the next year, I’m teaming up with the Wonderful Pistachios brand and will be sharing different ways for you to enjoy them on-to-the go and how they can be incorporated into your favourite dishes at home. Both nutrient dense and delicious, pistachios have long been my nut of choice, mainly because of their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fibre, protein and antioxidant content. I know for some there is a concern regarding the calorie count with pistachios but the good news is, researchers say sticking to in-shell pistachios can significantly slow down consumption because the empty shells offer a visual cue of how much you’ve eaten. Actually, preliminary behavioural studies have proven that in-shell snackers ate 41% fewer calories than those who snacked on shelled nuts, which is commonly known as the “Pistachio Principle“.

Thanks to the Wonderful Pistachios team, an exclusive group of us were lucky enough to participate in an intimate workout based on Toronto Maple Leaf’s Left Winger, James van Riemsdyk’s off-ice training at SWAT Health – a high performance training studio for elite and professional athletes. The workout, led by SWAT Founder and former football player Kyle Ardill, was no joke. We kicked it off with some dynamic movements and stretches to get are bodies warm and loosened up, followed by speed and agility work. All elite athletes train hard during their season, which are reflected in their physiques, however hockey players are notorious for the strength of their lower bodies. Specifically, quads and glutes. That means, we were getting ourselves into a 40 minute session focusing on the targeted muscles that allow hockey players to be quick and strong on the ice like; skater lunges, weighted side and reverse lunges, one legged dead lifts, a series of glute activations with resistance bands and a killer core workout circuit. If that wasn’t enough, Kyle had me end the session with some sled work (with him on it of course!) with the weight totalling over 300 lbs.

What many people often forget, what you eat post workout can be just as important as the workout itself. Usually we find it difficult enough to squeeze in a workout throughout the day, let alone take time to prepare a meal post workout, but nobody can ever be too busy for a smoothie. They are quick to prep, tasty AF and when you pack them with the right ingredients, they can actually be rather filling, helping you stay full until your next meal. On hand that morning was Registered Dietician and Abbey’s Kitchen founder Abbey Sharp, who helped create our post workout treat, a Pistachio & Tahini Protein Smoothie that you can easily make at home by using the following:

  • 1/3 cup Wonderful Pistachios, unsalted and shelled
  • 1 cup 2% Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 4 ripe figs, stems removed and quartered
  • 2 dates, pitted and diced
  • 2 tsp, tahini
  • 1 cup 1% milk (or you can substitute for Almond milk if you’re lactose intolerant or prefer the taste

Photography by Charlie Lindsay @DonCharleone

OPTIONAL GARNISH:

  • 1/3 cup Wonderful Pistachios, unsalted and shelled
  • 1 cup 2% Plain Greet Yogurt
  • 4 ripe figs, stems removed and quartered

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a blender, pulse the pistachios until they reach a ground up consistency. Add in the yogurt, figs, dates, tahini and milk. Puree until smooth. To serve, pour into two glasses. Top with sliced fig, crushed pistachios and pomegranate arils.

Stay tuned fin 2017 for more of my snack and meal ideas with Wonderful Pistachios #GetSnackin

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