YouTube educates and entertains us all.
It’s an incredible tool.
I’ve learned how to change a tire and clean out my vacuum cleaner. I adore the democratization of knowledge, music, and the resources it provides.
But, as a pelvic health physical therapist, I felt I had to put out a cautionary word. Proceed with caution when using YouTube videos for prenatal or postpartum fitness/healing. Steer clear unless your doctor or PT has directed you to specific videos.
People can say essentially anything.
Here's an example:
I’ve seen so many YouTube videos labeled with things like “GUARANTEED TO HEAL DIASTASIS RECTI”.
When, according to current research, there are no exercises that have proven to close diastasis recti.
There are exercises that can help you use your body more effectively. Or promote deep-core activation when you have diastasis. But doing crunches to peppy music is not it. In fact, doing crunches could slow down healing and put too much pressure on the pelvic floor.
Remember that Influencers have access to keyword searches. If anyone on YouTube (or any social media platform!) wants to expand their followers, they may be generating content just to tap into those high traffic words and increase their visibility.
Just because someone is great at marketing or video production does not mean they are a credible source. So many people claim they can blast away your pregnancy belly and tone it into a 6pack. Even if there are 6 million views, it still does not mean that deep knowledge about postpartum anatomy and physiology is applied.
Even if a doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, or certified yoga instructor is producing the videos, they have not done an evaluation with you. They would 100% do this with live encounters, prior to any exercise prescription. They don’t know your medical history or about past injuries. Are your joints more hypo or hypermobile? This makes a big difference in how you adapt your workouts. It determines whether you'll do more stretching or strengthening. Even experts in their field, people on YouTube don’t know the details of your pregnancy. They don't know how your delivery went. Therefore, they can’t progress the exercises. Or help guide you with what might be too much too soon. Or, inversely, could be ramped up a little bit.
All bodies are so unique. Add in the complexity of the prenatal and postpartum era of your life. And the amount of detailed change that happens within that time. If ever there was a time to have an expert in movement science, health, fitness, and female anatomy... it's now.
It affects our joints, ligaments, fascia, tendons, ligaments, organs, blood chemistry, hormones, brain function, and mood. Respecting all those different tissues and structures takes time and expertise.
Youtube videos don’t watch you back to make sure you are doing the movements in beneficial, safe ways. Having someone see you practice the movements (even just once or twice!) is really important.
Youtube doesn’t have the capacity to dose the reps and sets of movements. The best analogy I can think of here is this:
You don’t see pharmacists prescribing and dosing medicine through social media. This is the same thing. Movement is a form of medicine. Even if you are doing a squat with perfect form, your body might be in a place where doing 20 reps is more beneficial than 100.
It’s free. It’s accessible. It’s familiar. But you owe it to your present and future self to check in with a professional who will listen to your story. They'll assess your goals, and help set you on a path of healthy (appropriately dosed) movement. This needs to be customized for you and your specific body.
That’s why we’ve organized the Train4Birth Fitness Birthplan program so that you can have access to preventative health exercises, and me. Your own personal trainer and physical therapist. I’ll listen to your story. Make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly, and be available for questions. It’s so important to me that expecting mothers have access to affordable care.
Most women who've done the Train4Birth Fitness Birthplan program are into their second pregnancy. This is the story I hear most often:
They did their own exercise routine with their first pregnancy. They had their baby. Continued to squeeze in whatever movements were familiar. They did this whenever they could with a toddler. Then, when they realize they’re pregnant with their second child, the importance of self-care and prepping for birth in ways that specifically address the deep core, pelvic floor, and can help prevent hip and back discomfort hits hard.
After each pregnancy women get a little more deconditioned. So, the aches and pains associated with pregnancy start sooner. Or their endurance isn’t what it used to be. One of the most heartbreaking things I moms tell me is this:
Their body is in pain and discomfort with their second or third pregnancy. So much so that they're unable to walk up the stairs and read their child their bedtime story. Or worry that if they get down on the floor to play with their toddler, they won’t be able to get back up. So, they refrain from these things. Then they feel that good ole unshakable mom-guilt. This doesn’t have to be you!
These are all important activities. These routines contribute to your quality of life. You deserve to be as alive as you can. For each and every one of your pregnancies, whether it's your first or your fifth. Even 10 minutes of exercise a day that targets your specific goals can be far more effective than 30 minutes of general exercise. Taking the time to interact with a pelvic health professional can save you time and resources. You won't have to bench yourself from things you love doing just because you’re pregnant.
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