Pregnancy can be a magical experience for women, but it can also take a toll on your physical and emotional state. That’s what makes getting back into cycling such a challenge: it will take some time to get back to your ideal fitness and reclaim that mindset that enabled you to cover hundreds of miles on two wheels. But that’s not to say that it’s impossible. Here are a few guidelines on how to tackle this journey.
When to Get Back in the Saddle
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, MD says that the timeline for getting back to physical activity is different for every woman. It all really depends on each case, but here are a few rules of thumb that Dr. Minkin shared with me:
Women who underwent normal childbirth, meaning without complications and medical interventions, are generally able to perform light exercises after six weeks. Walks can be a good idea as well as is swimming or postnatal yoga.
On the other hand, women who experienced a difficult delivery may want to squeeze the brakes for three months or so. This goes for women who’ve had a C-section, anal, perineal or vaginal tearing, or any other complication during childbirth.
Dr. Minkin adds that it’s helpful to use your uterus as a guide. If there is any discomfort or bleeding, that might mean that you’re putting too much pressure on yourself too quickly.
Take It Slow
Once you have the go signal from your doctor, gradually build up your training as if you’re relearning how to ride a bike again. Even triathletes take time-off from training to get back into shape. For instance, Gwen Jorgensen only managed a 20-minute exercise a few weeks after welcoming her baby boy. When the professional triathlete was rebuilding her strength, she focused on strengthening her pelvic floor as it is known to loosen up during pregnancy. Hormones cause the ligaments to overly relax in order to make way for the baby, but this also means that it is prone to injury and pain.
Some women also experience something called diastasis recti or the separation of abdominal muscles. Target this with a few simple exercises from Shape Magazine including toe taps, bridges, and heel slides. These moves can tighten your core and reduce discomfort in your pelvic region or back.
The important thing here is to accept that you might not be able to handle even an hour on the bike, but that’s a common experience for many mums. Olympic cyclist Laura Kenny told the Telegraph that she went from 25-hour weekly training sessions to 4 hours during her first week back. She also noticed aches and pains while riding, which is something that every new mother should pay attention to. Less than a year later, however, the 26-year old cyclist, who is Britain’s most successful Olympian, took first place at the 2018 National Track Championships. But if she hadn’t listened to her body, she could have experienced more discomfort, or worse, got injured— this is something that you should try to emulate as you start riding again. Like Kenny, your body will eventually recover, and you’ll be back to enduring long hours on the trails.
Before you go...
It’s been a while; need to brush up on your knowledge of the bike? Check out this list of things female cyclists need to know and ride on to a healthier you.
Written by Alison Christie
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