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Are You Asking the Right Questions of your Post Natal Clients?

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An important part of writing better programs is asking better questions. In this guest post by Clare Hozack of Burrell Education you’ll learn what sort of questions we need to be asking post natal women to ensure we create the best possible programs. If you’re inspired to learn more, head to her ‘For Trainers‘ page for upcoming sessions. Thank you Clare…

If you are a Personal Trainer, at some stage you’re likely to find yourself training post natal women.

The Post Natal period is technically the first 6 weeks, but the physiological impact of pregnancy can last much much longer.

In the absence of medical or surgical complications, rapid resumption of activities has not been found to have adverse effects on new mothers and can have enormous physical and emotional benefits. The type of activity however, can either help the mother heal and rehabilitate, or contribute to eventual injury. It is very important that we are discerning but not fearful in our programming.

To be clear, exercise routines must be resumed gradually and only when medically safe – which will depend on the mode of delivery and the presence or absence of medical, surgical, or physiological complications (such as pelvic floor dysfunction).

As a result, asking post natal women the right questions and tailoring programs to suit is imperative.

If training a woman in this early period, what sort of assessments are you doing? 

Do they fill out a regular screening form or do you go deeper into their pregnancy and birthing experience? Do you even think this is necessary? Would the fact a woman had a c-section or natural birth matter to you? Would the fact that they had gestational diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, or an episiotomy mean anything to you in your programming?

How do you determine that they are ‘good to go’?

Whether you’ve given a post natal woman a regular screening or gone deeper, what sort of exercises do you give them? Do you assume their fine? Or do you prefer a conservative approach? Do you sit them on a fit-ball? (C’mon, we’ve all done it).

WHY do you sit them on a fit-ball?

Most trainers give me a jumbled answer relating to the “core”. Yes, the core is important, especially in the post natal period, but are you training their core in the same way as your client is going to use it?

After 20 years in this industry, I am yet to find a post natal woman perform any of her daily tasks sitting on a fit-ball. I am also yet to read a research paper that shows any correlation between sitting on a fit-ball and core stability standing up (that is not to say there isn’t one). So WHY WHY WHY do we continue along this path?

To add to my angst on this subject, the sitting on a fit-ball exercise is often coupled with tiny dumbbell or resistance band exercises like bicep curls and side raises. Why do we give a woman 2kg pink dumbbells to curl with when she’s going to go home and dead lift a 5kg baby…. ALL DAY!

In the interests of progression, sitting on a fit-ball with light weights is a conservative place to start, especially for women that have had a C-section and have been left with a core in tatters, but the story does not end there. We must train our post natal women – no matter how old their babies are -with an eye towards making them fitter for their LIFE.

What tasks are your clients performing daily?

We need to be training our post natal women for these tasks. Personally, I find breath training, squats, pushing against stuff, and dead lifts far more appropriate “core” exercise prescription for this population than sitting on a fit-ball. These core exercises teach the pelvic floor and deep core to synchronize their lift with exertion, push a pram, and pick their baby up off the floor.

We can be more thorough, specific, and effective in our training if we can justify why we have made the decisions we have. We will be better Personal Trainers if we chose exercises based on evidence and logic.

I encourage all of you to look at each exercise and question how this exercise is going to change your client’s life! How is it going to make them better at lifting a baby-capsule? How is it going to reduce their pain? And if you chose to sit them on a fit-ball, why have you chosen this task and what is the progression?

Clare Hozack

Burrell Education Australia & New Zealand

IntoYou Education on Facebook – /burrelledausnz

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