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Less is More: Part 1

This month my husband and I celebrated our daughter's first birthday. Seems like yesterday we brought her home from the hospital. I was fortunate enough to have an easy and enjoyable pregnancy followed by what I would describe as a pretty great labor and delivery.  Our daughter, Penelope Gray, is what people might call an "easy baby" and my husband and I are grateful every day for that!  The more challenging area for me this past year has been recovering from the aftermath of growing this tiny, adorable human.  Mothers try to tell you but you just don't get it until you are in it!

My labor and delivery was in my eyes "perfect" and I wouldn't change a thing about it...not like I could anyways.  I went into labor 2 days before my due date.  I was able to do most of my laboring at home and once admitted I delivered my daughter within 2 hours without any medication.  I thank my Pilates and fitness background for helping me manage my labor pains (back labor by the way) and keeping me calm during the process.  Deep breathing was KEY and so was having my husband's hand to squeeze to death during every contraction.  Thanks honey!  What I didn't realize was during my delivery I tore the labrum in my right hip.  A hip labral tear involves the ring of cartilage, called the labrum that follows the outside rim of the socket of your hip joint. The labrum acts like a rubber seal to help hold the ball at the top of your thighbone securely within your hip socket.  Labral tears are unfortunately becoming more common in the delivery process.  The most successful way to repair a labral tear is through surgery which I wanted nothing to do with because of the likelihood that another tear could result from any future childbirths.  I wasn't aware of the injury until I came home from the hospital; the decreased range of motion and pain when I moved it in certain directions was alarming.  This discovery was discouraging considering my full time job requires me to be active and in motion all day long.  Even worse, as a dancer losing any range of motion or stability was a little devastating.

What's next?  Once I figured out why my hip hurt the next step was figuring out how to keep active without re-aggravating the injury. When a joint is not stabilizing properly the surrounding muscles try to take over; that is exactly what was happening to me.  The result was extremely tight hips and glutes that caused chronic low back pain.  I decided to see a physical therapist and it's the best choice I've ever made.  What was the exercise program suggested by my pt? Less is more!

Before pregnancy I enjoyed doing Pilates, sprints on the treadmill, barre and strength training.  I was eager to get back after delivering my daughter but the truth was my body was different, I needed to train differently and that's OK!  I had to turn the intensity back a notch in my classes, demonstrate minimally and nix sprinting all together; though it doesn't directly aggravate my labral tear it tightens my already tight hips and glutes so I have terrible low back pain after...no thank you!  Instead I walk a TON!  I have to stretch and foam roll daily and perform small very BASIC stabilizing exercises for my hips and core.  It took about 7 months post-delivery to regain most of my mobility back.  After all I now have a daughter who requires all of my time and attention outside of work so finding time to rehab my injury takes some creativity.  Penelope's favorite toy is my foam roller.  The great news is I still take/teach Pilates, barre and Tribe Team Training classes weekly.  I've even added in yoga and I feel just as strong if not stronger than I did pre-pregnancy.  I still have to be cautious with certain exercises but the key for me to working through this injury is to listen to my body in the state it is in TODAY.  It doesn't matter what my body could do 2 years ago; when I don't listen to my body I end up limping around the club because I have severe groin pain and then have to ice and rest for a couple of days.  SO I use that as my reminder...the injury will never go away but that doesn't mean I can't stay active.  I just might have to do a little less than I did before and that's OK because less stress on the injury means more mobility.

So happy first birthday to my daughter, Penelope and happy one year anniversary to my body surviving childbirth!  It wasn't an easy recovery but worth every moment I get to spend with my little girl : )

Up next, Part 2: My realization that I had Diastasis Recti...a pilates instructor's worst nightmare!

Danielle Miller
Pilates Director & Personal Trainer
Fitness Unlimited

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