How To Reduce Postpartum Back Pain
Alleviate postpartum back pain, make pregnancy easier AND feel more confident? It’s NOT too good to be true! Strong glutes will help with all of these things but the first step in getting strong is ensuring a full range of motion… which means UNCLENCHING your butt muscles. If you struggle with postpartum back pain (or prenatal), carrying kids or leaking prenatal/postpartum focusing on your glute muscles is the solution.
Join myself and a certified Pre& Post Natal Specialist and Doula while we chat about the role tight glutes play in postpartum back pain and the general day to day tasks of a mom. Learn what symptoms of tight glutes may look like and the best way to loosen them so that you can get them strong.
- More About Madison (02:40):
- A Lack Of Information On Pregnancy & Postpartum (4:28)
- The Benefits Of Strong Glutes For Postpartum Backpain(06:43):
- The Problem With Chronically Tight Glutes (8:33)
- Symptoms Of Overactive & Tight Glutes (10:44)Your Link Text
- )How Your Body Responds To Pregnancy (13:04
- What To Do If You Have Tight Glutes (16:11)
- How To Get Strong Glutes(17:38):
- Manual Manipulation While Pregnant(18:27)
- Last Tips On Glutes & Postpartum Backpain (20:54)
- Wrap Up(22:53):
- Connect With Madison
Welcome to the Fit As A Mama Bear podcast. I’m Shelby, a certified strength coach, nutrition coach mama to two and all-around health nut. This show is about a little bit of everything, healthy, fit and natural related.
So, if you’re striving to smash goals, eat better, feel better and join the occasional mom rant then this is the place for you. You’re listening to a bonus episode today where we are chatting all about your glutes and the one thing that you’re missing from your training. Joining me today is Madison, a prenatal and postnatal specialist as well as a birth doula and a mom of three.
Welcome everyone to my first ever bonus episode! One thing you may not know about me is that I am a planner, like insanely. My blog posts and podcasts are outlined, mapped out, and already scheduled for about four months in advance.
I get crazy anxiety with a tight deadline. So planning is totally my jam. However, this particular podcast is just too good to pass up because it’s all about being a tight ass. Too much?
No really. I’m sorry for the language, but it’s really appropriate today and you’ll see why in a few moments. Today we are chatting about your glutes and I freaking love glutes.
I’ve been known to say that glutes solve life problems with my clients and I truly think that that slogan is accurate. Glutes DO solve life problems. However, it is impossible to strengthen your glutes if they’re chronically tight.
In order for a muscle to develop and strengthen, it must work through a full range of motion and the glutes are no different.
If your glutes are classically tight, you’re leaving a lot of strength on the table. And since strong glutes help with
- back pain (especially postpartum back pain)
- knee pain
- sports performance
- carrying kids
- your pelvic floor
- postpartum recovery
I feel like I could go on and on. We want strong glutes. Now, before I ran your ear off, let me introduce my guest today because I am so damn excited.
I met Madison on Instagram of all places and fell in love with her teaching style and her knowledge. Madison is a prenatal and postnatal specialist. She’s also a birth doula and a mom of three, which is brand new. And she also runs an active blog. She works with women throughout pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond. To help them live active lives cause that pain or symptoms, lots of moms think are part of normal life. She works with clients remotely through her programs, membership and one on one online coaching.
Madison just welcomed the newest addition to her life a few weeks ago and is adjusting to life with a spunky six-year-old, three-year-old and a newborn… which I can’t even grasp. But more than anything I just mentioned, Madison also loves glutes! Which means we are instant friends. So, Madison why don’t you take a minute to tell us a bit more about yourself, your experience, and how you came to be where you are today.
Before I was a trainer, I was a lab manager at a genetics lab. I was working towards getting a master’s in epidemiology. But I did not go that route. I actually fell in love with spin classes.
I started taking them to my local Jewish community center and lost about 80 pounds and then I became a spin instructor. So, I teach Les Mills RPM. I also teach Les mills CX works which I kind of fell in love with fitness first and then I delved into the whole personal training thing and got my personal training certification. I left the lab, kind of put all of my lab fantasies and job to start helping people. And then I got pregnant with my second, my son, and I just noticed how little information there was out there about training and pregnancy.
I was the person who wanted to lift heavy, who wanted to continue doing spin classes and my doctor was kind of like, “well you know more than I do about it”. And I was like, well, do I? At the time I didn’t.
And so, I being the person that I am, I am always a forever learner. I just kind of went into the place where I’ve got a million certifications on pregnancy and postpartum fitness, and all things about that.
And then after he was born, I started getting really nerdy about pelvic health. And around that time was when I started to train to become a birth doula. I noticed how much these two businesses have to do with each other.
Working with women, I listened to so many birth stories and where people’s issues STEM is often from their births and from their pregnancies. And so I noticed there was a niche that needed to be filled. And I became a birth doula after that and that’s kind of how I came to be where I am today.
I love that.
Especially because I was in the same boat too when I was pregnant. I’ve been a certified strength and conditioning specialist for seven or eight years now. And in that entire time and through that entire process of learning, the pelvic floor is not brought up.
Not in any certification, it wasn’t talked about at all. And it wasn’t until one of my girlfriends introduced me to pelvic health. I had just had my first that it was a mind-blowing moment of how is this so undervalued in terms of training?
I lifted heavy through my entire first pregnancy and I lifted heavy fairly quickly coming back. But never did anyone really explain pelvic floor health to me and I feel like things could have been done a lot better, which they were with my second.
And it made me wonder how many other moms are in the same position. You hear about the generation above us whenever they sneeze, and they leak a little and everyone will tell you that’s it’s normal because you have kids.
And that boggles my mind now because it is so it’s normal and it’s quite popular, but it’s not unmanageable or unfixable. It just kind of blew my mind that none of this is discussed. So, it’s kind of the same thing, you just fly by the seat of your pants during pregnancy until you learn about it and it just needs to be out there a little bit more.
Absolutely. I mean, even my women’s fitness certification there, like the smallest chapter on pregnancy and in postpartum. And then this huge chapter on menopause, I’m like, “but wait for a second, we’re missing so much information there that moms need to know about”. It’s just so an underserved really.
I took pre and postnatal certification. I don’t know how long ago, but the majority focused on prenatal fitness and what you are safely allowed to do during pregnancy. A lot with the stability ball, bands, that kind of thing.
But that entire course, not one part mentioned the pelvic floor at all or the glutes for that matter. Which now blows my mind. It’s just disappointing. So, I’m glad that there are people like you who love science-talk
The Benefits Of Strong Glutes For Postpartum Back Pain (06:43)
So why don’t we delve right into it today and chat about everything glutes! So, Madison what are the benefits of strong glutes in pregnancy and postpartum?
Oh, there are so many benefits of strong glutes in pregnancy and postpartum and especially with postpartum back pain. I know we’ll talk about this in a little bit, but the mom butt it’s a big thing and it happens to start in pregnancy where your center of gravity kind of shifts your posture shifts.
We tend to get glutes that are overactive and a pelvic floor that is also overactive. Strong glutes can really head off all of those issues.
- hip pain
- back pain
- pelvic pain
Strong glutes can really benefit you in that pregnancy period and into the postpartum period when you’re sitting all the time feeding a baby.
When you’re generally just trying to recover from birth and from all those changes that happen in pregnancy where the glutes kind of go through a lot of changes, the hips go through a lot of changes, and maintaining that strength and the glutes can really, really help mitigate some of these issues that happen a lot.
I know with myself personally, I got obsessed with glute training before I had my first. I trained glutes all through my pregnancy and I had way less postpartum back pain than I had expected. My postpartum recovery was just a lot easier.
I was up and walking. I think I went for a walk that day or the day after just because I felt so good. Just from a recovery perspective, I felt far better than I had expected to feel after just having a baby, which was a huge deal at the time.
For sure. And that was similar to my first, I actually didn’t train at all. I didn’t exercise at all. And then with my second, I did and my recoveries were so very different from the first to the second. My second was just so much easier.
Oh, that’s exciting.
So specifically relating to the pelvic floor health, pregnancy, and postpartum back pain.
So constant tension happens in pregnancy because so much of your center of gravity shifts and what tends to happen is you get a tailbone tuck in the butt. It tucks under, and the glutes are best friends with the public floor.
So, they have some of the same attachment points. They’re attached to the pelvis obviously, and so is your pelvic floor. So they play very well together. And having that constant glute tension in that buttock can actually put your pelvic floor in an over-tighten or shortened position, which can also lead to incontinence.
Symptoms of tight glutes can be:
- pelvic pain
- pain during sex
All kinds of things that you really don’t want to be experiencing. Maintaining that constant glute tension can really put the pelvic floor under more tension, which then, in turn, makes it a little bit weaker.
We think that constant tension means it’s doing better, but it’s really doing the opposite of that.
We want to be able to both relax the glutes and the pelvic floor as well as strengthen them. So you get that full range of motion. It’s like if you were to hold your bicep in a shortened position all the time and then you go to pick up something off the floor, you’re not really going to have that full range of motion or the strength that you would if you actually were to let your arm go and relax every once in a while.
It’s the same thing with the glutes and the pelvic floor.
I think that’s an important thing to know because we tend to think when someone mentions postpartum leaking or leaking prenatal that our pelvic floor muscles are very weak, and everything is loose.
And that’s not actually the case. A lot of the times it can be that they are over-active, or they’re just stuck in a short position. It’s not so much about fully releasing them as just being able to get them through a solid range of motion.
How are they going to know if they are weak or tight?
Oh man, that is a good question because a lot of people ask me this one because it can go both ways. You can experience symptoms related to weaker glutes and with tighter glutes and them kind of go hand in hand.
If you’re holding those glutes in a really tightened position all the time, they’re not necessarily going to have that full strength that they need.
One of the biggest signs is that you are noticing that you’re clenching your glutes all the time or during things that you really don’t have to clench your glutes for: doing the dishes, doing the laundry, holding your baby, holding your toddler.
If you have postpartum back pain when you’re going to pick something up, that may be a sign that your glutes are overactive. If you have kind of a flat butt that can be a sign of overactive glutes, which is not necessarily on trend for everybody.
Some people have flat butts. I am a person who has a no ass all syndrome. I have to work really hard to actually have some kind of butt.
But I also tend to clench my glutes. So, they can kind of go hand in hand. Those are just a few things to note when you’re thinking “do I have tight glutes? Am I holding my glutes under tension all the time”?
Noticing those things about your posture and how your pelvis is tilted can be really helpful.
Tell me about the mom butt.
It’s so common and such a joke from so many people. I have a client who texted me and was like, “so this mom butt thing…” The mom butt happens because as I’ve said before, so many changes happen to your posture and to your pelvis during pregnancy.
What tends to happen is the tailbone tucks under and the glutes tend to clinch a lot. And so, the mom butt comes from that.
It’s actually the fact that your glutes aren’t working in that full range of motion so you’re not able to get that full strength. And that full strength can contribute to that nice roundness that you get. So, the mom butt comes from changes in posture or sitting a lot.
When you’re feeding your baby, which is unavoidable, that happens. You don’t have to stand to feed your baby. That’s really challenging.
All of those changes that happen in pregnancy and into that postpartum period can contribute to that flatness that we see often in the mom butt and thus postpartum back pain.
I’d like to know too, especially during pregnancy, your center of gravity shifts. We do know that your body’s going to do whatever it can in order to compensate that to keep you upright.
It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong, it’s not that your weight distribution is off, it’s just that your body needs to keep you upright. And if things are not normally where they used to be, your body’s going to pull wherever it can to do its job.
It is completely normal that your posture shifts and that you do get that pressure in the low back because your glutes are tucked under and because you are growing a big belly and it kind of takes some effort to hold you up and hold the baby.
One quick thing to note, because I know we all freak out about posture during pregnancy and it’s so silly because you shouldn’t.
You can strengthen and you can do your best and your body’s still going to do whatever the hell it needs to do in order to keep you going to deliver a baby.
Things like spot training or having belly only pregnancies make my eye twitch horrifically because your body just doesn’t work that way in pregnancy. At all. It is doing whatever it can and is in survival mode and growth mode and anything outside of that is just what’s happening.
I remember when I was pregnant with my first, I was actually taking an advanced anatomy class where I dissected a cadaver and my anatomy teacher the first day, was going over the spine and she got to the lumbar spine and she said; “did you know your lumbar vertebrae get larger to support that weight”?
So many things happen that are not in your control. And that’s why I really don’t like doing correct and incorrect posture pictures or anything like that because there is really no such thing.
Your posture and what is right and wrong is in the eye of the person who’s looking at you and depending on the phase that you’re in and your body is going to do what it needs to do to get through this huge time of change.
And the truth is the only goals you should have when working out during pregnancy are to feel good. Movement should feel good. If it doesn’t feel good, you probably shouldn’t be doing it during pregnancy.
You can work to prepare for postpartum back pain, and you can alleviate pregnancy symptoms the best you can. But outside of that, you’re not going to be able to manipulate your body a whole lot during pregnancy because it kind of has other things going on.
And just a reminder for all the moms because I know that there’s a lot of things circling out there about how to stay lean and stay thin and focus on just gaining in your belly, which I’d like to point out; It’s actually impossible.
You can not choose where you store weight during pregnancy or at any time. It does not work that way. Okay.
So outside of the mini-rant there… if our glutes are tight, what do we do?
The first thing that you do, if you believe your glutes are tight is to notice during the day, what’s happening with your pelvis. Is it tucked under a lot? Are you squeezing your glutes all the time?
We hold tension in our glutes. Just like we hold tension in our shoulders. If you’re really stressed out, notice what’s going on in your butt because it can be that you’re holding your glutes really tense and tight all during the day and you’re not really noticing it.
That’s the first thing you can do is release the tension during the day from your glutes. Another thing you can do is try to shift the pelvis back.
If you’re noticing that you have that tucked under, you’ve got that slight rounding in the butt that goes under, you can just untuck it a little bit.
Get your ass behind you is what I often tell my clients. You want to leave it in the past, you don’t want it to be in your future.
And then, of course, glute training. We want to make sure that we’re backing up these shifts in posture and the shifts in where attention is being held with the actual training.
Glute training is super, super important. It’s something that is in every single one of my client’s programs, every single one of my six-week programs or eight-week programs, everything. I love the glutes and they’re super important.
Not just the big, pretty one, the maximus. There are three glute muscles, so we want to be working every single one of them and all the kinds of range of motion that we can. So those are the things that you can do if you’ve got tight glutes.
How To Get Strong Glutes(17:38)
I love glutes, truly. I don’t think I can show it that enough and I truly believe that strong glutes make for better moms.
Just think, having the ability to chase, play and laugh with your kids without postpartum back pain and pee free sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Which is exactly why I put together a mini-course on building stronger glutes. Every single thing you need to reap the benefits we’ve chatted about today and you won’t just receive information. You’ll also be given specific glute workouts to help you get stronger.
You’ll have the option to use just the mini glute circuits, the workout glute finishers or the five-week, full-body workouts with an emphasis on glute exercises. All with video demos of course,
If you want stronger glutes, if you want less back pain, more laughter and to not cringe when holding your babes head over to www.fitasamamabear.com/glute training course and jump on the presale list.
Manual Manipulation While Pregnant (18:27)
You just stole my heart. Just so you know, I am clearly a fanatic.
Now, one thing I’m going to touch on to help you get a better range of motion while you are pregnant and kind of untuck.
I did see an osteopath, which I found extremely helpful for me. I tend to have a bit more sway back and a very big hyperextension in my lumbar when I’m pregnant, but not everyone is that way.
An osteopath or prenatal massage can kind of help alleviate some of those symptoms and just help get a bit more movement through your lumbar and through your hips if that’s available to you. I’m not sure if you did any massage or osteo while you were pregnant, but it feels fantastic.
I actually didn’t! But I do recommend chiropractor, osteopath, and massage or physical therapy which help too. As well as a pelvic floor physio, particularly if you’re dealing with lots of incontinence or pelvic pain, those kinds of things.
A common misconception. You can see a pelvic floor physio while you are pregnant. I know a lot of people think that they are just for postpartum when you are recovering and just kind of check out what happened during pregnancy.
I saw mine during my pregnancy just so I could get a heads up on kind of how my body was changing, what I might need to work on to counterbalance some of the things happening. So, it is possible to see one during your pregnancy.
Absolutely, and they can definitely help. I’ve had several clients who had pretty bad degrees of tears with first pregnancies and have seen pelvic floor physical therapists and had great results with working with them on how birth positions and different things like that. So very, very helpful.
I didn’t know about pelvic floor physios until after my first, but it made a very big difference going into my second to knowing where I was tight and why I was tight. I tend to only have one side of my pelvis wants to be tight. The other one is fine. So silly and you kind of wonder what the hell you are doing that that happens.
But for me, it would make zero sense then to strengthen as a whole because I was just going to keep one side chronically tight and unfortunately that’s something that you can’t always diagnose yourself.
So, having that option is sometimes really, really helpful.
Now, any last tips or big thoughts on postpartum back pain and unclenching glutes in general?
Oh man, glutes are so important. You should be training them in pregnancy and postpartum and really anytime. Do all the glute work, all the single leg work.
It’s so important and will really help mitigate any aches and pains like postpartum back pain that you have and work through any symptoms that you may be experiencing.
I’m just a huge fan of glutes and glute training in general. And so do it. Just do it.
I love it. I’m going to add one thing to that because I think sometimes when we think of a strong muscle, we think that we have to lift very heavy weights to get that muscle and that is not true with the glutes.
The glutes actually respond best to a variety of loads, reps schemes and training protocols, but you can easily strengthen them at home with little to no weight. I’m a fan of resistance bands obviously because they just give you a little bit extra bang for your buck. They’re super cost-effective and you can store them easily.
You don’t need heavy weights to have strong glutes. So, I hope that no one’s thinking that because I promise when you are pregnant you can not put a barbell on your lap and his hip thrusts 150 pounds.
It does not work. I think I tried until I was six months pregnant, I was really small, so I got to about six months before there’s really any belly, but my second after three months I was like, well there we go. Can’t do that anymore. And that’s where many bands come in super handy.
I love many bands too.
They’re just a nice way to target areas of your glutes that you probably didn’t think of.
So, as you mentioned, there are three of them and while I love bridges and hip thrusts, it is not all about your glute max.
You do have to target them through external rotation and abduction and all of that fun. And the best way to do that is with a mini band. So, if you can, grab one, especially if you are pregnant.
One more tip on that is to please sit down to wrap it around your ankles or your knees. Don’t be the pregnant lady that’s trying to stand and get a band around her ankles. It’s not a plausible situation.
I think I could chat about the glute muscles for an alarming amount of time because I have a slight obsession with them. Remember, you can’t take action to strengthen your glutes until you have a good range of motion. So please keep that in mind.
If you want to get strong, reduce pain (especially postpartum back pain), and carry kids with ease, focus on relaxing your glutes before you strengthen them. And for all of you who are looking to connect with Madison, you can actually find her at her website and all-over social media.
I’m going to link to all of those in the show notes. But if you have a second, click like on her Instagram profile because she produces a ton of content and I love it. As well as and baby pictures. They’re really, really super cute.
There are all sorts of different little tips and tricks that you probably don’t think of when it comes to postpartum back pain and training. Remember that if you are in need of fitness tips, workouts, and amazingly healthy recipes, you check out my website at www.fitasamamabear.com
And on that note, check back soon for the next episode to the Fit As A Mama Bear podcast. If you took one thing from today’s episode, I hope it’s that being a tight ass isn’t nearly as much fun as having strong glutes.
Pelvic Health – A Podcast
Prenatal Massage – A Podcast
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy – A Blog Post
Mini Green Band– use code mamabearfit
The Mini Course On training Glutes– Go learn