EVB SPORT LEGGINGS REVIEW

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They might look like any other pair of running leggings but ladies, listen up, this pair of sports apparel do more than just look good on.  When I shop for sportwear, its always important to me that I spend that little extra on a decent bra and pair of trainers. These are 2 parts of the body that we all know needs support and I personally am prepared to pay that little extra in the hope that  said chosen items will provide support. Since having Martha, one area of my body that hasn’t felt all that supported has been my tummy. In fact its been quite sore after running more than 5k. My knees and feet  have also been painful. Although I’m strengthening on a daily basis and have been very sensible with my return to running the reality is that things are still not 100% yet.

Luckily I stumbled upon a tweet that mentioned EVB sportswear.This sportwear is designed to support all the core muscles including the pelvic floor,  tummy and low back. Probably a gimmick I thought but what harm would it do to contact Yvonne Brady, CEO and founder of the company and ask her more about her product. Well Yvonne not only told me about her product she also very kindly sent me a pair of new sports leggings to try out myself (a definite perk of the job!)

So I did just that. For the past month, on every run I have worn my EVB leggings and let me tell you a thing or two. Wow! I think they are FAB. First of all they look great.  They are tight, very tight which I like. I feel supported around my low back,  tummy,  my pelvic floor and pelvic area. Although tight they don’t hinder my running stride. Here’s the interesting bit, my tummy is definitely less sore. My knee pain has stopped and my foot pain has significantly improved.Of course I can’t be sure that I owe this all to the leggings but I would say without doubt that it is more than coincidence that my symptoms have improved since wearing them.

I will most definitely  be recommending the leggings and shorts to all relevant patients that I see. Remember ladies, if you love running, it is high impact which can lead to pelvic dysfunction particularly ,  if you are pregnant, post baby, hypermobile, menopausal or overweight. Even if you are any of the above but symptom free take it from me prevention is better than cure. So whilst you consider that next pair of £120 trainers to wear because ‘they will improve your running style’ think about spending a little more on your running leggings. Not only will your core muscles thank you but you will look hot too.

Many thanks to EVBsports for allowing me the opportunity to try out the leggings and providing our Women’s wellness evening with leaflets and neck scarves for all participants in their goody bags. For more information on EVB sportswear go to http://www.evbsport.com

 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Happy Valentines,Happy Postnatal Check

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Post pregnancy care is a subject very close to my heart and women should be a focal point for healthcare. A woman’s life course offers multiple opportunities to prevent predictable morbidity and mortality and to empower them and through them their children with information to take positive steps to health. Women’s health physiotherapy is a specialist area of physiotherapy which focuses on problems related to the pelvic floor and the pelvis. These problems may be either gynaecological or pregnancy related and include conditions such as incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain, constipation and painful intercourse. For years, this speciality of physiotherapy has allowed physiotherapists the privilege of focussing just on the woman and the so called ‘taboo’ subjects mentioned. It is an incredibly successful area of physiotherapy but still one that women are not tapping into enough in order to improve their health.

 

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The Chief Medical Officer’s annual report was released in November 2015 and dedicated to women. Professor Dame Sally Davies makes recommendations that will benefit women’s health and encourage a normalisation of the conditions which are very common amongst women but yet still do not get treated because women remain embarrassed about them. The statistics within the report make for a depressing read and the disparity and urgent need for care to be updated is evident. The report covers all things related to women’s health from female genital mutilation to incontinence, to the menopause.

 

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A chapter in the report that stood out for me was one on post pregnancy care. 80% of women will have a baby in this country. During the pre and postnatal stage of a woman’s pregnancy she will come into contact a lot with various healthcare providers. In my opinion it is around this time that women are a captive audience and educating and treating them at this stage of their lives will result in successful treatment of many problems that may be developing or worsening. In my ideal world women would receive the postnatal care that the women in France have been receiving since 1985. In France, postpartum women are routinely prescribed “la re-education perineale,” 10–20 visits of physiotherapy designed to retrain the pelvic floor muscles, to be followed by “abdominal re-education” after the pelvic floor sessions are completed, if necessary La reeducation perineale” has been subsidized by French Social Security since 1985. The French state health system subsidizes 60–100 percent of the cost; private insurance typically covers the rest. France is one of the only countries to sponsor such a program for women postpartum.  Read more about it here:

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Postnatal care in the UK is usually concluded by 6-8 weeks post birth which marks the formal end of maternity care in England. The aim of care is to enhance birth recovery, promote maternal and infant physical and psychological health and support infant feeding. The current timing and content of postnatal care originated in the early 20tn century in response to the then high maternal mortality rate. Unfortunately this has been subject to minimal revision, despite a dramatic decline in maternal mortality, increasingly early postnatal discharge and evidence of widespread and persistent maternal morbidity. The health profile of women giving birth in 2015 is not reflected in postnatal care provision and the postnatal care is not fit for purpose, lacking any evidence or maternal need. C section has increased by 3% over the past 10 years. Maternal factors e.g. obesity, increased maternal age and conditions like diabetes are on the rise. Incontinence, perineal pain, anxiety and depression are common and can persist for years. Revisions to the GP contract in 2004 removed an item of service payment for maternity care which has led to a decline in GP involvement. An online survey of 4000 self-selected women found that a third reported that their 6 week routine GP appointment did not meet their emotional needs and almost half said that it was not thorough enough.

I strongly believe that every woman should be offered at least one session with a women’s health physiotherapist after having a baby. Most women, after giving birth will  have a weakness in either the tummy or pelvic floor which then creates instability and poor core strength. The result can be back pain, pelvic pain, bladder and bowel weakness. Most Women Health Physiotherapists offer a postnatal check from any time after a woman is 6 weeks postnatal. They will check and test the muscles of the tummy and pelvic floor, provide advice on safe exercises, posture, personal goals.  Such a check helps avoid any long term issues and if necessary treatment can be provided and an optimal postnatal recovery programme commenced.

When I was 8 weeks postnatal I was lucky enough to have a postnatal check (Mummy MOT) from two outstanding physiotherapists, Lisa Few, based at London Bridge Hospital and Maria Elliot based in Harley Street. During the sessions sensitive subjects like incontinence, prolapse and sexual intercourse were addressed. Both assessed my scar tissue (from my c sections), pelvic floor, tummy as well as my posture, musculoskeletal system, and general core stability. Without their input my recovery would have been hindered and my return to running much slower. I am one of the lucky ones, knowing such wonderful colleagues. I also have private health insurance. However this service is available without health insurance via self-funding or it is possible to request a referral via your GP in the NHS.

This Valentine’s day do something for yourself. Whether you had a baby 6 weeks ago or 6 years ago book to see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist. Show that body a little love, you deserve it!

michelle
Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Podcast- tips for when to start running postpartum

Sorry, life has been hectic, I will never underestimate how hard it is to have 2 or more kids ever again, God knows how people make it look so easy!

Anyhow as a result I am massively behind on my blog but just wanted to tell you about a podcast that I have just done. I was lucky enough to speak to Alison King a fellow 261 fearless ambassador from New Zealand the other night. She is a mum of one, a running coach with her own business and also provides a great blog and podcast to anyone out there about running. Find out more about her at http://www.runforyourlifecoaching.co.nz

She asked me to do an interview about the pelvic floor and running postpartum. Please check it out – you may find it has some good tips.

https://itunes.apple.com/nz/podcast/run-for-your-life-23-interview/id1008957786?i=358526925&mt=2

Catch up soon, with some more info and tips. X

MY GP 6 WEEK POSTNATAL CHECK

 

 

 

‘Your scar is healing well but you  have a 2 finger width gap in your tummy  Emma, best thing for that is some sit ups!!!!’  Yup, that was it,  my 6 week postnatal GP check up. A quick feel of my tummy, told I had a gap in my abdominals and to add insult to injury, the wrong advice to correct it. Professionally I felt so disappointed that this was the service that my GP advised. Personally,  I felt like the GP wasn’t that interested in my recovery at all. Pregnancy and childbirth place such incredible stresses on a woman’s body. Changes and symptoms occur that nature alone will not resolve. we all need some guidance to help get our bodies back and treat any symptoms that may have occurred as a result.

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A recent survey carried out by ‘Mother and Baby’ found that over half of all women found their 6 week postnatal check to be inadequate. The sad fact is that a check up  for mums does not have to be offered by GP surgeries and more often or not if you don’t ask you don’t get. With this in mind, insist on being seen. The NHS have a list of things that should be done during your check as you can see below. As you can see from my experience if time is of the essence then this list will be deviated from. My advice would be to ask for a longer appointment and  take the list with you.

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  • you should be weighed and can get weight loss advice if you need it
  • your urine should be tested to make sure your kidneys are working properly and that you haven’t got an infection
  • your blood pressure will be checked
  • you may be offered an examination to see if your stitches have healed (if you had any), and that all the muscles used during labour and delivery are returning to normal
  • your doctor may discuss carrying out a cervical screening test (smear test) with you if you have not had one in the past three years – the test won’t usually take place until three months after delivery
  • if you are not immune to rubella (German measles) and were not given an immunisation before you left hospital, you will be offered one now
  • you will be asked if you still have any vaginal discharge and whether you have had a period since the birth
  • Contraception will be discussed

The 6 week check is also an opportunity for you to mention any of the following should they be relevant to you:

  • you are having trouble holding urine or wind, or you are soiling yourself
  • if sex is painful
  • you are feeling very tired, low or depressed
  • you are worried about anything

From here it really is the GPs role to identify the problems and direct you to the correct health care professional. I would encourage you to get a physiotherapy referral if you are told that you have a gap between your stomach muscles (diastsis recti), problems holding urine, wind or faeces, if intercourse is painful or you are a keen exerciser and want some guidance on returning to exercise. We will  discuss what physiotherapy can offer in the next post but in my opinion EVERY woman that has had a baby (regardless of delivery) should see a  trained women’s health physiotherapist. This provides a ‘true’ postnatal check and is the key to recovery – a true MUMMY MOT!……..

THE FIRST 6 WEEKS OF MY POSTNATAL JOURNEY

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GOALS

1.) Flatten mummy tummy – BY EXERCISING CORRECTLY AND SAFELY

2.) Wear a Baby Bjorn baby carrier comfortably and functionally

3.) Run the 5k Chocolate Run- February 2016 & continue park runs on a weekly basis

4.) Complete the Badger half marathon- July 2016

5). To enjoy my maternity leave as much as I can!

INTRODUCTION

Pregnancy is a wonderful gift. Holding my babies for the first time was one of the best experiences of my life. However pregnancy and childbirth come at a price. As well as the not so awesome looking ‘mummy tummy’ there is a possibility that we can be subjected to pain in the pelvis, back, pelvic organ prolapse or a leaky bladder if we do not look after ourselves and rehabilitate.

Both of my children were delivered by cesarean (c-section), Oscar was an emergency c-section and Martha was planned. Having a planned c-section was not a decision I took lightly, it’s major abdominal surgery and not to be underestimated. The recovery is painful, limiting and second time around it seems much harder, especially with a heavy 2 year old to deal with on top. The recovery and healing process is also much slower than an uncomplicated vaginal delivery so I am going to have to learn to be patient (something I’m not!).

From day 1, I made a promise to myself that I would put aside a little time everyday in order to optimise my rehabilitation. So just what have I been doing?

PAIN RELIEF AND SWELLING MANAGEMENT  

After a few days I was placing crushed ice in a plastic bag wrapped in a damp tea towel on my incision (always check with your midwife before doing this) twice a day for 10 min. It didn’t have a huge effect, but it did take the edge off the pain and swelling. Following Marianne Ryan’s advice I also invested in a rather pricey and passion killing pair of medical grade compression shorts.

http://www.solidea.com.au/maternity/high-waist-shorts-for-recovery-detail

These are not the same as abdominal binders which effectively squeeze the tummy too tight and prevent the abdominal muscles switching on. Marianne researched this area thoroughly and found that shorts that offer 15mmHG of compression which reduces to 12mmHG at the top are the best option. The shorts increase lymphatic drainage and speed up healing, decrease pain and the elastic introduces muscle memory to enable a faster recovery to the abdominals. I started wearing them 4 days post op when I felt a little more comfortable. Ideally you need to wear them daily for 3 months. I must confess I probably wear them about 5 days a week as the weather’s been so hot. What do I think of them? Well, so far so good – and i’ll keep you posted. 

AVOID THE SCALES

There is no point weighing yourself until after your 6 week postnatal GP check up. Hormone levels affect fluid retention, the uterus takes 6 weeks to return to its normal size so the scales will fluctuate significantly. Trust me, it does nothing for the morale so hold out if you can. I did however take a picture of myself at 2 weeks in order to monitor my progress over the next few months. Here I am at 38 weeks, a week before having Martha.

IMG_5109and here I am 2 weeks after having Martha

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EXERCISE

When to start…..

Most Mums want to recapture their pre-pregnancy bodies but we must be careful with the level of activity and type of exercise undertaken. As mentioned before, complications such as pain in the pelvis, back pain, pelvic organ prolapse or a leaky bladder may occur if this rehabilitation isn’t done correctly. As a general guideline, after a c-section you can start to do some gentle pelvic floor exercises once the catheter has been removed. If you’ve had a vaginal birth this can be anywhere from between a few hours after birth to a few days – but please check with your medical team first as this will vary depending on any complications you may have experienced.

Do it right…..

1 in 3 women do not activate their pelvic floor correctly so whilst it is still very important that you do this daily visit a women’s health physiotherapist to ensure you are doing so correctly (we will talk about this visit in more detail soon.) This post by Diane Lee may help in the activation of your pelvic floor:

http://www.dianelee.ca/article-training-deep-core-muscles.php#pfm.

What will you be exercising…..

Exercises during the first 6 weeks are designed to awaken and find the muscles that have switched off during pregnancy. The key is to retrain your ‘core muscles’ and lay the foundations before strengthening  anything else. If this doesn’t happen then the likelihood is that your tummy won’t flatten and you are at risk of secondary complications such as pain in the pelvis, back pain, pelvic organ prolapse or a leaky bladder – maybe not today but in the future. First however a bit of background on the muscle group we’re going to be working on:

Your “core” is a group of four muscles consisting of:

  1. Your pelvic floor
  2. The inner layer of abdominal muscles – transversus abdominus
  3. The deepest layer of back muscles – multifidus
  4. The diaphragm.

Essentially these four muscles hold our torsos together.  Let me refer you to the amazing Julie Wiebe’s video blogs where she describes the important partnership the core muscles have. Her other blogs are all well worth a look and will help you understand your body much better.

http://www.juliewiebept.com/category/video/page/2/

Concentrate on your breathing and posture…..

The key to recovering our core strength relies on breathing correctly. Again I’ll refer to Julie Wiebe’s video blog ‘the diaphragm and or internal pressure system’. It is so important to breathe when exercising, moving, lifting etc. So many of us hold our breath and this causes an increase in intra-abdominal pressure. This is the amount of pressure inside your tummy. It is influenced by the way we breathe and good coordination of our abdominal muscles. These 2 things get knocked for six during pregnancy and need to be retrained. Breathing in, increases intra-abdominal pressure, making it harder for the core muscles to work and placing extra pressure on the lower back and pelvic floor muscles. Exhalation does the opposite.

Core muscles work best when you are in a good posture. When you are pregnant, as you can see from my photos your large tummy can cause all sorts of changes in your posture. This needs to be corrected and your body re-educated. Simple exercises can help with this and it is important to check your alignment as you continue to exercise.

Both the Mutusystem and The Baby Bod book address these issues and as a result are the program I am following.

The Mutusystem was designed by Wendy Powell, a mum and postnatal fitness instructor -https://mutusystem.com/about-us

‘ MuTu System training and programmes have a holistic philosophy, which deals with posture, functional exercise (IE metabolic resistance exercise techniques that make you truly strong, lean and ‘fit for purpose’), optimal nutrition for health, hormone balance and energy, specific yoga techniques to help re-settle the pelvic organs,  tone and heal the deep muscles as well as relieve stress and promote optimal respiration… AND at the foundation of it all, a complete 4-Phase program to train (find) and then strengthen the muscles of your core.’

Her’s is a 12 week  program and can be done in the comfort of your own home. I would definitely recommend it, however if you feel at any stage that it is exacerbating problems like incontinence consult your GP or women’s health physiotherapist. The Baby Bod book by Marianne Ryan is also well worth getting your hands on. It allows you to understand your body better and also has a workout program. http://www.babybodbook.com/. Both are very affordable.

How I have been exercising…..

Over the past 6 weeks I have been doing the preliminary baby bod program and core phase 1 from the Mutusystem. I have been activating my pelvic floor daily, attempting to recruit my tranversus abdominus and correct my posture (easier said than done) whilst stretching and working on my breathing techniques through these exercise programs. I have also been walking a lot- perhaps a little too much sometimes which I have paid for with a little back pain so you must get a balance. Ideally aim to start with a 10 minute walk twice a day and build up as you feel able. Movement encourages healing so I can not recommend it highly enough.

That is it for now. I have my GP 6 week postnatal check tomorrow and my first weigh in since being pregnant. Stay tuned!