by Tania Tetrault Vrga
On mourning my butt and being a mom…
It was so flat. What once was perky and strong had become sad and weak. This was my realization, as I saw my backside in the mirror. Everyone experiences pregnancy and childbirth in their own way, but many mothers will tell you that their bodies are permanently transformed after childbirth.
Turns out “mom-butt” is a common postpartum occurrence.
I naively believed that I might be fit enough to avoid it altogether, but the truth is that it kind of crept up on me gradually. I thought that regular training throughout my pregnancy and after the birth would be enough, but clearly something else was going on here. To regain my strength, I wanted to understand why my body was reacting in this way.
It starts with a key mechanism in exercise physiology called reciprocal inhibition.
Reciprocal inhibition refers to a muscle lengthening to accommodate the contraction of the opposing muscle. For example, if I use my biceps muscle to close the angle of my elbow, my tricep must lengthen to accomplish that task. Conversely, if my triceps are really tight, it’s more challenging for me to contract my bicep to its fullest ability.
What does this have to do with my flat butt?
Pregnancy involves carrying a lot of weight in the front of the body, which changes the centre of balance and stretches the abdominals. If the abdominals can’t do their job as well because they are stretched out to accommodate baby, the hip flexor muscles will pick up the slack. When the muscles at the front of the hip work a bit too hard, they end up in a tonic and shortened state. Guess which muscles oppose the hip flexors? The gluteal muscles! In other words, tight hips often go hand in hand with weak glutes.
Let’s think about how this plays out in new moms. Imagine recovering from childbirth while trying to rehabilitate the pelvic floor, abdominals, and glutes. As if that’s not challenging enough, add in sleep deprivation, and trying to find the time to prepare and eat enough calories while nursing. It’s no wonder moms struggle with changes in their bodies.
But there is hope.
The journey back to perky starts with proper hip alignment, relearning how to breathe and brace, and the promise of heavy squats. If you’d like to learn more about how to get that butt back, you’re in luck, we cover these skills and much more in our Mommy & Me fitness classes.
Click HERE to test drive a Mommy & Me class on us.