How Posture & Alignment Affect Birth Recovery
We all know what posture means. Stand up and say the word posture out loud. Take note of what adjustments you make to your body.
Did you just pin your shoulders back, elevate your chest, and flare your rib cage outward? Now, what would your response be if someone said the word alignment? Understanding the difference between posture & alignment and how alignment WORKS for us is so important in pregnancy and the newly postpartum stages.
During pregnancy, a mom's shoulders tend to round forward with the weight of enlarging breasts and the chin will poke forward. During pregnancy, the uterus pulls the pelvis into an anterior tilt. This makes the hamstrings tighter and shorter, and places strain on the low back. A moderate anterior tilt is acceptable to help the pelvis open. However, an extreme tilt combined with weakened abdominals takes much more time and effort to adjust postpartum. When it comes to our alignment upon returning to exercise, we want to first reactivate muscle memory by realigning the muscles back to where they should be, then add in exercise.
Posture is how your body LOOKS.
• Lordosis posture is a forward (anterior) pelvic tilt which is very common postpartum; sometimes called a “swayback.”
• Kyphosis posture is rounding of the upper back and also very common postpartum; sometimes called a “hunchback.”
Alignment is how your body WORKS.
Alignment is how your weight is distributed between your rib cage and pelvis. Stand up again and stack your earlobes over shoulders, shoulders over rib cage, rib cage over hips, hips over knees, and knees over toes.
How do we become out of alignment? Postpartum abdominals are loose and stretched, so we compensate with our back muscles. When we compensate with our back muscles and recruit our shoulders for lifting, it causes an internal rotation, resulting in shortened pectorals.
Why is proper postural alignment so important postpartum?
Postural alignment affects tissue overload and assists in the repair and prevention of diastasis recti. An aligned rib cage and pelvis keeps intra-abdominal pressure off the linea alba. Proper postural alignment alleviates postpartum pain syndrome in the neck and upper traps.
How do you improve your postural alignment?
• Strengthen your transverse and oblique abdominals.
• Incorporate proper breathing techniques with abdominal engagement and no belly breathing.
• Keep your sternum perpendicular to the floor when standing.
• Adjust your pelvis to decrease the load on your linea alba.
• Sit and stand tall so your abdominals lengthen properly.