Thursday, 16 November 2017

Pelvic Health Series: Our journey to regaining strength, alignment, & function Kellie - part 3

This has been a humbling journey for me. Not only seeing a physiotherapist for assessment and treatment, but also journaling about my journey through this blog series. Writing about my experience has allowed me to reflect and dig deeper into learning about my own body.

My last blog post explained my initial assessment with Bounce Back Physical Therapy and diagnoses. If you didn’t read it yet you can find it here! I want to now take you on my journey through my “homework”, three follow-up visits, and what being “discharged” means to me.

Homework

At each appointment – the initial and follow-ups – Jillian gave me a series of stretches, exercises, and tips to implement into my daily routine. As the list grew, I would often feel overwhelmed with how to sneak it all in. What made it feel more manageable was when I remembered our discussion about how it’s okay to be imperfect and really that our goal is to have perfect alignment and engagement available to us. I actually came to enjoy incorporating the stretches into my post-workout routine or while I played on the floor with our girls. I would complete the prescribed core exercises at the end of my workout or sprinkled in throughout the day. I never put it upon myself to get it all done in one shot and definitely did not pressure myself to complete each exercise and stretch every single day. This made it attainable and decreased the stress of adding tasks to my daily routine!

Each of our bodies are so different and what was prescribed to me might be completely different than what is prescribed to you, but I still want to give you an idea of my homework list. After three appointments (one assessment and two treatments), my to-do list entailed:
  • standing oblique stretch
  • seated quadratus lumborum (side low back) stretch
  • actively relaxing my pelvic floor with the use of a soft ball
  • actively relaxing my core and practicing “tension to task” technique
  • mindfully shifting my weight into my heels while standing and walking throughout the day
  • continue with self c-section scar massage, as well as adding in abdominal massage for the deeper adhesions
  • once a day to check-in with my rib alignment on the wall
  • laying pec stretch, which then progressed to a standing doorway chest opener
  • core breaths – belly breaths with multifidus engagement
  • glute squats – super challenging squats where you really force your weight over the heels!
  • core exercises – kneeling lean backs (I call these Matrix), bridge lifts, and single leg heel touches – with the focus on full core and pelvic floor engagement and release with breath

Yes, the list in lengthy, but remember that this was over the course of a month and a half. As I began noticing small changes in my alignment and posture, I also started to notice that this movement was becoming my new normal. I would automatically engage slightly while squatting to pick up Mikah and exhale as I came to standing with the weight in my heels. I would naturally allow my upper back to curve the way it is meant to rather than try to sit as straight and tall as possible, which also allowed my core to relax. It is truly amazing that once we become more mindful of our body position during movement and stillness that we can really sense when we are at our most functional.

Follow-up visits / “treatments”

Now that you know what I walked away from each visit with, you might also be curious about what actually happened during those visits. Well, other than Jillian and I going way over time because we get busy discussing all things pregnancy, birth, postpartum, fitness, mom life, balancing it all, and wine… I continued to learn so much about my own body. I have always maintained very straight posture. For as long as I can remember people have commented on how I sit and I take pride in this, but what I didn’t realize I was doing was actually forcing out the natural curve of my thoracic (or mid) spine. Who knew? Each visit we would check in with my glute squat form and really emphasized keeping my bum untucked. I have started to incorporate these small changes into moves in my classes and the light bulb moments I’ve seen in my client’s eyes is priceless!!

My first two appointments were only two weeks apart and in that time, with really only postural changes and bringing awareness to certain movements or body positions, we had already begun to close my abdominal separation. Small changes really do have a big impact! The tension in my linea alba, which is the connective tissue between the rectus abdominis, was strong even from our first assessment which likely helped the quick shifts in the musculature.  Some manual work helped to break down some of the scar tissue around my caesarean section incision, which has made movement through my core a lot more comfortable. Upon my final visit, where I graduated from therapy (more below!), we even found that one of my ribs might be in fact keeping my rectus abdominis slightly open. The body is truly interconnected and amazing!

Discharge planning

As a nurse, we learn about discharge teaching and how this actually begins before the patient is even admitted. I found this also true with my pelvic health physiotherapy journey. Jillian set me up for success from our very first meeting and continued to build on that knowledge at each appointment. At my fourth appointment, when we discussed that it could be my final visit, I had mixed emotions! Most of me was excited and proud that I had taken my rehabilitation seriously and committed to making small changes that had turned into healthier habits. A smaller bit of me was sad because I had enjoyed learning from someone who cared equally, if not more, about women’s pregnancy and postpartum bodies as I do.

I thoroughly enjoyed our discussion on how the goal moving forward will be that I no longer am required to do the prescribed exercises and stretches daily. With improved habits and a strong core base, I should be able to move with function and freedom!

If you are reading this, but hesitant to book an appointment because you are afraid that you will be told you need to avoid certain exercises or are no longer allowed to complete certain movements – please do not let that hold you back! A Pelvic Health Physiotherapist is on your team! Their goal is to have you moving in ways that make you feel strong! Sure, depending on your situation (pregnancy, diagnoses, breath connection, etc) they might suggest changes or pulling back from certain movements for a short time. If this is the case for you, I promise that it will be worth it! After your alignment and core function are improved, you will be amazed at your increased strength through those same movements!

I am so thankful that I hopped on this journey of self-improvement and found answers to questions that I didn’t even know I had. I continue to feel empowered by my strong and capable body!

A few final thoughts…

Would I have been completely fine if I never made the initial appointment? Definitely. I had great core connection and body awareness. However, the knowledge and strength I have gained through someone else’s assessment and treatment plan have been empowering.
Do I wish I had seen a pelvic health physical therapist sooner? YES! I am really just so excited about how much I learned about my own body and some of the things I can now bring to my clients in class.
Would I encourage you – pregnant, postnatal, neither – to be assessed? YES! We all have “little” things we can work on with our alignment and core function. Just as Jillian said to me at my first appointment – “If we can make you stronger and more efficient, why wouldn’t we?!”
What is one thing I wish I could demonstrate to everyone reading? How much stronger I am because of my increased connection to engaging my core in the most efficient way!

“The human body is the most complex system ever created. The more we learn about it, the more appreciation we have about what a rich system it is.” – Bill Gates

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Pelvic Health Series: Our journey to regaining strength, alignment, & function Jamie - part 3


It has been two months since my first appointment at Bounce Back Physical Therapy with Jillian Palmer.  I have had some ups and downs with my recovery but overall I have been loving the experience.  I have loved learning more about how my body functions and being able to apply what I'm learning from a women's health expert to my classes. Over the course of this two month span I have had appointments every two weeks to try to find a solution for the symptoms I was experiencing.  If you want to know more about the beginning part of my journey, my symptoms and diagnoses, or Kellie’s journey, please click here and read the first four posts in our series. I’m going to take you back to where I left off after my last post and share with you my experience of trying to find better function in my pelvic floor and close the abdominal separation I have. 

I feel like Jillian, or any physio therapist for that matter, is like Sherlock Holmes, trying to solve the mystery of what is causing the symptoms or problems your body is experiencing.  She has this brain full of tools that could potentially fix your problem, but the trick is finding the right tool for your body. 

I was lucky with my pelvic floor.  She sent me home after the first appointment with a little foam ball to sit on and breathe and relax and imagine my pelvic floor wrapping around the ball with each breath.  Within two weeks I noticed a difference and after just one month of allowing my pelvic floor a chance to relax, I was already noticing a huge difference in function.  I could do up to 30 jumping jacks without feeling any heaviness in my rectum!

Your pelvic floor is an amazing muscle that is responsible for so many important functions in your body.  By not allowing my pelvic floor to fully relax, it wasn’t able to do its job.  Think about it like this, if you walked around squeezing your hand into a fist all day, your hand would be tired too and wouldn’t be able to function properly.  Or if you constantly clenched your bicep, when you needed it to engage to lift something, it would have a hard time doing what you were asking of it.  Your pelvic floor is the same.  It needs to engage and relax just like every other muscle in your body.  Thankfully, when you give your body the chance to behave the way it is built to, it responds magically.

Finding the right tool to unlock the mystery behind why I am experiencing a significant diastasis has been much harder to find.  Your rectus abdominus (or your six-pack muscles) want to be close together.  They don’t function well with a large gap between them, so if you can find the right tool to unlock the reason they are stuck open, they should willingly go back to where they are supposed to be.  I continued to see Jillian every two weeks, and every two weeks she would send me home with new exercises or stretches to try to get my separation to close. One tool Jillian talked about that really hit home with me was thinking about tension to task.  I needed to start to think about engaging my core relative to the task I was trying to complete.  There was no need to engage my core to a level 10 when I was picking up a pen or washing dishes, when a one or two would suffice. 

No Diastasis Recti          Diastasis during pregnancy      Diastasis postpartum
Image used from ProgressiveMotion.com
During one of my appointments, Jillian watched my abdominals closely as I was doing my core breaths and with every exhale and engagement I would get a small bulge in between by abs. There wasn’t any significant coning or doming or tenting like when I was pregnant.  It was just a small space where my abs were separated that would slightly raise above my abdominals.  This small bulge meant that with every exhale and engagement of my pelvic floor and transverse abdominus, I was generating pressure within my core capsule.  This pressure needed to go somewhere and it was going straight to my weakened linea alba, or the space between my abs that I couldn’t generate enough tension in to contain the pressure.  My insides, my organs, were literally being pushed out and trying to escape from my body. 

Once we realized this was happening, we needed to test my core's abilities. She lead me through very basic movements to see exactly what kind of pressure my core was capable of handling and I was shocked to learn how little I was actually able to control.  When someone tells you that your insides are trying to come out of your body and can show you exactly when, if that isn’t a rude awakening, I don’t know what is.  The reality was that if I continued to push my core and body the way I was, I was at risk of a hernia.  So, over some Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough icecream, (a necessity for me when I have some soul searching to do or let's be honest, anytime really) I did some thinking.   Is doing a full push-up or burpie really worth a hernia?  Physically, I had always prided myself on pushing my body’s limits but at this point was the risk really worth the “reward”? 

On top of significantly modifying all core and prone exercises, I needed to learn to relax my core.  We noticed that I was pre-engaging my obliques with every core breath I did, further separating my rectus abdominus.  Even though we discussed tension to task, and I understood what it meant, I wasn’t actually applying it except when physically lifting things.  For every core breath I did, I was fully engaging every muscle in my midsection, which wasn't necessary. I needed to learn to relax my obliques and just let my pelvic floor, transverse abdominus and multifidus do the work.  Put your hands on your obliques next time you do a belly breath or a kegel and see if they harden or engage.  You might be surprised.  I sure was and it took a lot of mental focus to let them relax while only engaging my pelvic floor, transverse abdonminus and multifidus. 

Outside of relaxing my obliques during core breathing, I needed to let my stomach go.  As hard as physically modifying everything is, mentally for me, this one was 100 times harder.  Not only has this been a challenge almost every minute of the day for me, it has been completely eye opening.  When I started to be really mindful about my core and started to think about tension to task for every aspect of my life, it shocked me to realize how much of my day was spent with my core engaged.  Why would my core need to be engaged fully when I was sitting in the car or watching tv, or walking around the grocery store?  I then started to wonder how long I had been doing this for.  Definitely the whole time I was pregnant, but maybe even before.  Maybe even as long ago as my teenage years.  That’s an awful long time to ask your core to engage and not expect to see some negative side effects. It is highly likely that I was experiencing symptoms before but pregnancy and recovering from pregnancy brought them to the forefront.  “Sucking in” my core was a bad habit I developed a long time ago and it was going to take a lot to unlearn it and retrain my body and mind.  My journey quickly switched from solely a physical one to a mental one as well. 

Habits are important. 
Up to 90 percent of our everyday behaviour is based on habit. 
Nearly all of what we do each day, every day,
 is simply habit.
 – Jack D. Hodge

So for the time being, I am working on unlearning, retraining, relaxing fully, engaging properly when I need to and learning new habits.  I am still smiling and remembering each day to celebrate the small victories and am proud of myself for working within my current bodies capabilities.  


Photo Credit Roughley Originals

After 2 months of visits we still haven’t unlocked the mystery that is causing my abdominal separation but I am happy to report that the depth of my separation has decreased, I am able to generate a lot more tension in my Linea Alba and at my last appointment we found a tool that worked some magic and I can’t wait to see what it does for my body.  Stay tuned for my next post to find out all about this magical trick. 





Thursday, 26 October 2017

Pelvic Health Series: Our journey to regaining strength, alignment and function Kellie - part 2

Hello! I am starting this post with a huge thank you!! Jamie and I are incredibly humbled by, and grateful for the beautiful messages we have received since opening up about our journeys through this pelvic health blog series. Amongst your notes, we have found joy in knowing that you are becoming more aware of the changes occurring within your body. Many of you have even sought assessment because of our journey and we could not be more proud of you for doing so. Truly!

If you have not read our previous posts in the series, please check out Jamie’s first and second installments as we as my first that precedes this post!

Also, I wanted to remind all of you that there are so many incredible women’s health physiotherapists in Edmonton and surrounding area. Jamie and I are both seeing Jillian Palmer, from Bounce Back Physical Therapy, because we had started to develop a professional relationship with her through referring clients. We appreciated her approach, and her proximity to our homes was perfect! We encourage you to find a Physical Therapist with whom you can connect and feel comfortable with. In order to help you find a physiotherapist that is right for you, we have compiled a list of many of the wonderful pelvic health specialists in Edmonton and surrounding area here. In addition, there are links to the Albertan and Canadian Physical Therapists Association pages where you can search for a Women’s Health physical Therapist in your area.

So, now let’s dig back into my journey. I was essentially symptom free, other than some nagging “tightness” with the excess scar tissue building around my cesarean incision. This tightness would bother me more on some days than others and most traditional abdominal (core) exercises were uncomfortable. The more I learn the more there is to learn. I knew by making an appointment with Jillian, that if nothing else, I would learn how to improve outcomes for my Fit Your Life clients, but would likely also learn many things about my own body.

I drove to my first appointment nervous and very unsure of what to expect. I made a point of arriving right on time so that I did not need to sit in the waiting room and allow the suspense to build even more. Thankfully, Jillian was also right on time and no waiting occurred! I really enjoyed the initial part of the appointment. We reviewed my pregnancy history, exercise background, and overall physical health. We discussed anything currently occurring in my body and focused in on habits relating to the core and pelvic areas. Through our conversation I realized over the last year, I was paying less attention to my body with two little bodies to look after. I could tell you how often they empty their bowels and bladders and how much water they take in, but I had to really think about the answers for myself.

After this portion, we moved into the external physical exam. This is where Jillian assessed my alignment and posture during static standing and while moving through a squat. Having a background in Kinesiology, I knew to some extent the things she was looking for, but I was still interested to learn her observations. She then had me climb up onto the table/bed to assess my linea alba (the connective tissue between the rectus abdominis) through single leg raises. Although I secretly hoped she wouldn’t feel the separation of my abdominal muscles when I crunched up through my upper body, I knew she would. I shyly admitted that I had felt the gap at my belly button and to my pleasant surprise, she was happy that it didn’t continue above or below. Whew! When she asked me to perform a single leg raise, I was able to complete this on both sides, without any doming (where your body tries to push through weakened areas in the linea alba), but my legs did feel quite heavy and I also felt the same tugging or tightness around my incision. THIS was my “magic moment”… Jillian then gently squeezed my rectus abdominis together with her hands and asked me to perform the single leg raises again. They practically floated into the air!!! Whoa. My face lit up. What did this mean? That although my core was strong and functioning even with a small separation, if we were able to close it, I could fire those muscles even more effectively!

Although I was on a high from this “magic moment”, I knew the internal exam was coming next.

With the Physical Therapist stepping out of the room and me physically and mentally preparing for the unknown, I took a deep breath. She could tell I was nervous and, like Jamie described in her story, I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciated the knee analogy. She described this assessment just as any other body part. I relaxed a little. To my surprise, this exam was over really quickly. For that I was grateful mainly because that meant there were no startling diagnoses! Jillian left the room for me to dress so that we could discuss all of her observations and create our plan.

What filled me with so much excitement and anticipation for the months to come was when she sat down and told me, “You are strong. You would have been completely fine if you never booked an appointment with me, but you are here and now we are going to make you so much stronger!” Sold!!

So, what were her findings?
  • Holding excess tone through my core and pelvic floor
  • Two finger separation at umbilicus (belly button)
  • Rib flaring
  • Alignment – standing and squatting with a “tucked bum” and not allowing the natural curve of the thoracic (mid) spine
  • Pushing down through my pelvic floor, rather than containing while coughing and sneezing

What were her recommendations after our initial visit?
  • Oblique (side abdominals) and quadratus lumborum (side low back) stretches and pelvic floor relaxation techniques. These will help my rectus abdominis close by creating space within those muscle groups, as opposed to holding. 
  • Actively practice relaxing through my core and pelvic floor during the day. This will help those muscles know how to relax and therefore be able to fire maximally when needed!
  • During walking and exercise, keep my weight overtop of my heels and keep my bum untucked. This will help me also to find neutral posture when carrying the girls and assist my ribs to unflare and come back to neutral.
  • Actively contain (or squeeze up) through my pelvic floor when coughing or sneezing to re-train my body, as that is what those muscles are meant to do (i.e. keep everything contained!).
  • Continue with self-scar massage to break down the scar tissue and which we will address more at the next appointment.

I really appreciate that Jillian doesn’t attempt to fix all things at once. I will expand in my next post, as I felt this was a manageable amount of tasks to work on and things to consider as I move through my day. She addresses the most important aspects of re-aligning and strengthening my body and gives new homework at each visit to build upon the last.

Driving home, I felt so inspired!! Yes, I had a list of things to work on and by no means was my body perfect, but I felt I had been given tools to effectively and efficiently re-train my body while it was still adjusting postpartum. Back to that “magic moment”! I wish I could re-create that sensation in all of you – to be bluntly shown how strong your body can be! The best part was to achieve a closer connection of my rectus abdominis and to begin to close my belly button separation, all I needed to do was relax! Jillian straight up told me that likely by doing “nothing” it would begin to close on it’s own over time.

I truly believe that we can all benefit from a posture and alignment assessment. In our busy days – sitting, standing, carrying, holding, laying, breastfeeding in all positions – our spines take a toll. Even small shifts can make a huge difference in the way you carry your body and finding its optimal alignment.

“You don’t need to have perfect alignment 100% of the time. Our goal is to have optimal alignment available to you.”
When Jillian said this to me, I felt like I finally had permission to “let go” and relax throughout the day. This has been a game changer for me.

Thank you again for following along this journey with me as I share my discoveries and inspirations! In my next installment, I will take you through my daily routine to incorporate my homework as well as my high five moments and accomplishments!

Stay tuned for Jamie’s next post where she shares her successes and challenges as she and Jillian Palmer continue to work together to tackle her list of diagnoses.  




Thursday, 19 October 2017

Pelvic Health Series: Our journey to regaining strength, alignment and function Jamie - part 2

If you haven’t checked out the first 2 articles in our Pelvic Health series, go do it now.  Click here and here, then come back and check out post 3.  Or, since you’re here, read this one and then go back and read the other ones.  

My heart was beating a mile a minute as I nervously waited for my appointment.  I thought the hardest part about this whole process was going to be making the initial appointment.  Turns out, it was even harder to get my butt to the there and through the door of the clinic.  But, here I was, sitting in the waiting room of Bounce Back Physical Therapy, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, looking for any kind of distraction to keep my mind off the looming exam.  

After what felt like forever, but in reality was a few minutes, Jillian Palmer, the physiotherapist, walked into the waiting room and I felt so much better to put a face to her name.  She sounded nice on the phone and via email but upon meeting her, her smile and calm demeanor put me at ease.  I walked into her private office in the clinic, sat down and the appointment began.  The initial portion of the exam was filled with questions.  Jillian wanted to know in depth about my prenatal, birth, and postnatal history, my daily water intake, voiding, and sleep habits, a thorough medical history, and if I had any concerns or questions for her.  After the history portion of the exam she checked the alignment of my body while standing and squatting.  From there Jillian had me lay down on the exam table to check my core.  

Next came the dreaded internal exam. Jillian left the room so I could change.  I got my bottom half undressed, climbed onto the table and waited patiently, totally exposed except for the sheet she gave me to cover up.  Thankfully this time it was an actual sheet and not those extremely uncomfortable and awkward paper ones you get at the doctor.  At this point my heart rate was through the roof.  I hate internal exams.  I mean, sitting there in an uncomfortable position, with your nether regions exposed, waiting for a stranger to come in and thoroughly examine your vagina, isn’t something I look forward to, especially this time, knowing I was experiencing symptoms that likely meant she was going to find something not quite right with me.  

Once again, as soon as Jillian entered I felt calmer and I could tell this exam was going to be different than the ones I had experienced in the past.  She assured me that I had nothing to worry about and even used the analogy that the exam of my vagina was just like her examining my knee.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still nervous but it was a little bit easier to calm down without my feet in metal stirrups and a paper sheet crunching with every shift of my body.  Jillian offered me a mirror to view the exam, and I’m not going to lie, I was not on board at first.  I didn’t want an already awkward situation to be worse.  I just wanted her to examine me and get this part over with.  That being said, as the exam went on and I started to relax, as much as one can in that type of situation, I became more and more intrigued.  I found the use of the mirror very helpful, educational and interesting.  She showed me what was happening as I engaged and relaxed my pelvic floor and what it looked like internally when I coughed and barred down.  I was able to see exactly what was going on with my body and seeing and learning first hand made me feel so empowered.  It was a whole new experience for me and it wasn’t nearly as awkward as I made it out in my head to be.  

Throughout the appointment Jillian was very honest with me about what she was finding, in terms of what I needed to work on to improve my body’s strength and function.  We discussed what she found and the strategies we were going to use to tackle each of the following areas.  
  • Diastasis Recti or abdominal separation
  • Grade 2 posterior vaginal wall prolapse
  • Excess tone (holding muscle contraction when at rest) throughout my body including in my pelvic floor and abdominal wall
  • Cesarean section scar tissue resulting in adhesion of abdominal layer

There it is, the list of the areas in my body that needed some love and attention ASAP. On the drive home after the appointment, I had a chance to think.  My brain was going a mile a minute.  I was feeling defeated and embarrassed.  How was I ever going to fix all of this?  How did I let my body get to this point?  Why didn’t I address these issues when I first felt them, instead of pushing them aside?  
Our bodies don’t lie and mine had been telling me that it wasn’t happy or functioning at its best and I just ignored it, until now.   Even that small discomfort and pressure I was feeling while doing jacks and my new outie belly button was my body’s way of saying that something was out of place.  
It’s remarkable really.  When you think about all the changes a woman’s body goes through to grow a human being.  The shifting of all of the organs and stretching of tissues to make room for a growing baby and expanding uterus is truly amazing.  But it’s also amazing to think that after all of that, your organs and tissues can go back to exactly where they started before pregnancy.  It shouldn’t be surprising to me then that things weren’t back in place 100% and my body was trying to tell me this.  
I got home and read through my list of homework, which mainly included stretches and mindfully relaxing, and after some reflection I was ready to tackle my new mission.  Operation stretch and relax was underway and I was excited to see the changes I could make.




It’s been a few months since my initial appointment and I’m excited to share with you the progress and setbacks I’ve experienced throughout this journey. Stay tuned to our next instalments to see how Kellie’s first appointment went, read about her magic moment, and learn how we are discovering our true strength through this humbling journey.



Thursday, 5 October 2017

Pelvic Health Series: Our journey to regaining strength, alignment, and function Kellie - part 1

photo by Roughley Originals

Every single one of us is different. One of the most amazing aspects of my job is to witness the vast differences between each pregnant body as they exercise and how their body transforms postpartum. Most women will have similarities between their own pregnancies and births. Many women can even find a few similarities with other women as they discuss their stories. I think you would be hard pressed to find two stories more similar than mine and Jamie’s are, which is truly incredible, as we have only known each other for 18 months. That being said, they are not identical stories and for that reason I will also be sharing my story of regaining strength, alignment, and function through the help, expertise, and guidance of a pelvic health physical therapist.


photo by Roughley Originals
After one miscarriage, my husband and I went on to have two healthy pregnancies. Our oldest daughter Brooke was born by urgent cesarean section in April 2014. Our youngest daughter Mikah was born by elective repeat cesarean section in October 2016. You can read her birth story here. I stayed active through both pregnancies, which included running (stopped at 25 and 32 weeks, respectively), strength training, and yoga amongst other leisure activities and hobbies (biking, hiking, etc.). I officially started Fit Your Life by offering prenatal and postpartum fitness seminars in February 2015. Since that time, I have continued to learn, through various means, about pregnancy health and postpartum fitness. I absolutely fell in love with putting this newly discovered knowledge into practice within my own body during Mikah’s pregnancy. After her birth and through my healing, I began finding my new daily routine. Even before I was cleared for exercise postpartum, as a new family of four, we would go downstairs first thing in the morning and pull out our mats. This was an awesome ritual Brooke, Keith, and I had developed and wanted to continue. While Keith and Brooke worked out, Mikah would lie on my exercise mat and I would stretch, move gently, and connect with my changing body through breath. As I was able, I slowly re-introduced more movement in these morning sessions and loved the way I was feeling! I felt strong and connected! I thanked my prenatal exercise routine, my balanced nutrition intake, and my supportive family for this.

Although feeling great and sinking into the new routine, there was one nagging thing that continued to bother me even months after Mikah’s birth. My incision scar tissue did not seem to be going away. The slimmer I became, the more noticeable I thought the “bump” above my external scar was. Through self-massage, chiropractic, and deep massage, I noticed some change, but I started to wonder if this was part of my new normal.

What does this have to do with making an appointment with Jillian Palmer (MScPT) at Bounce Back PhysicalTherapy? Well… this scar tissue was the only postpartum “issue” that I would fully admit existed. I was actually in complete denial that I had a 2+ finger abdominal separation (diastasis recti or DR) at my belly button. Yes, I am trained in assessing this and did feel it within my own body. Since I was virtually symptom free and am very well trained in what not to do with DR, I was cautious, but did not even think about having it assessed. I worked on this in my own way through core connection, mindful core movements, and pelvic floor engagement and relaxation. [It is perfectly normal if you are having flashbacks to Jamie’s blog post. Haven’t read it yet? Find it here! I told you we are similar!] Over the summer, Erin, Jamie, and I wanted to open up the conversation about pelvic floor and core symptoms postpartum. Through this process, more women were asking us to assess them for DR and were discussing what was going on in their body before, during, and after our classes. We loved that women were realizing that Fit Your Life is a safe space for them to talk about their discomforts, pain, leaking, and to ask what is “normal recovery” and what might need require further investigation by a pelvic health specialist.

As the number of these conversations grew, I started thinking about my own body and how I really should make an assessment appointment to see what it is really like. What held me back? To be frank, I was most nervous about the internal exam. Why? I was scared she would find something “wrong”. BUT I was finally able to take a deep breath and book an appointment. I was recommending so many clients to go and knew I could probably learn a thing or two. Well, that is an understatement!

Am I happy I booked? HECK YES!
Did Jill find something “wrong” with my body? NO! But we did discover areas in which I can “let go” in order to be my most functional!


Excited to hear more? In my next post, I will take you through my first assessment and my “magic moment” as I have been calling it ever since!



Thursday, 28 September 2017

Pelvic Health Series: Our journey to regaining strength, alignment and function Jamie - part 1

I am physically the strongest I have ever been in my life. I just achieved a personal best in a half marathon in August. I am one year postpartum. So, you are probably asking yourself, why on earth would she go see a pelvic health physiotherapist now?

In order to know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve come from, so let’s go back in time and I will tell you a little bit about my pre and postnatal history.   My first child, Everly, came along just over three years ago.  I was active during her pregnancy; I practiced yoga once a week, ran until about 20 weeks gestation, and afterwards continued to walk daily.  We lived in Phoenix, Arizona at the time so it was easy to get outside every day.  I had high blood pressure towards the end of the pregnancy and was induced at 38 weeks gestation.  After about six hours of labour Everly’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction and I was about 1cm dilated.  My obstetrician, husband JJ, and I made the decision to deliver by cesarean.  The surgery went well, Everly was born healthy, and I had an easy recovery.  At four weeks postpartum my obstetrician cleared me for exercise without much guidance. So being na├»ve and not knowing any better at this point in my life, I started running. I know. I am shaking my head at myself right now. 

photo by Roughley Originals
Fast forward two years and I was pregnant with my second child, Camden.  We moved from Phoenix back to Edmonton during this time and I am so lucky to have found Fit Your Life and Kellie.  I was again active during this pregnancy with running, walking and Fit Your Life classes and took proper precautions to modify as necessary for my body.  For his birth, my husband and I decided on a scheduled repeat cesarean section and everything went smoothly.  This recovery was not as easy as Everly’s. I had a lot more pain in my incision site and bled much longer.  I found it so much harder to take it easy during this recovery with a toddler to take care of.  This time around though, with more knowledge, once I was cleared at six weeks postpartum, I continued to listen to my body and heavily modified exercises for what my body needed.   


So, I modified and took my time getting fully back into exercise and I backed off when my body told me to, which leads me back to my initial question…why did I choose to see Jillian Palmer at Bounce Back PhysicalTherapy?
I am going to try to be completely candid with you. 
I was having a lot of pain on the right side of my c-section incision when doing lower core strengthening exercises. 
I was feeling pressure and heaviness rectally when I did jumping jacks, especially weighted jack presses. 
I knew I had some abdominal separation that wasn’t going away. 

With all of those red flags, why didn’t I book an appointment sooner? Why did it take me close to a year to finally book an appointment? How can I work with women every day and recommend they take care of themselves and not do the same for myself?

I could give you at least 100 reasons that ran through my head telling me why I shouldn’t go, why I didn’t need to go. 
I kept telling myself that I was ok. 
If I really focused on engaging my pelvic floor while doing jumping jacks, the pressure was less so I justified to myself that it was fine.  I just needed to focus more while doing jacks. 
When I self-checked for Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) and really activated my core to squeeze my abdominals I was able to get my separation much closer together. Again, justifying in my head that I was fine.
But really it came down to one little thing…I was scared.  I was nervous about the internal exam.  I was nervous the physiotherapist would find something wrong with me.  There were so many unknowns about booking an appointment and I really don’t like unknowns and uncertainty. 
I was in complete denial.
I finally decided that enough was enough.
I was telling other women that they should go get checked.
I was supporting women daily on their recovery journeys. 
I started to think about the consequences of not going, if there was something that needed to be fixed. 
It was time that I stopped only talking the talk and needed to walk the walk too, so I took the plunge and booked an appointment.
I felt an instant sense of relief once the appointment was made and pride that I overcame my fear and took the first step in advocating for my own health.


So what happened at my first appointment?  What was my experience like? 
Stay tuned to part 2 in our series.


Sunday, 24 September 2017

Mom & Me Fit, Prenatal Fit, Family Fit, & Mom & Me Yoga in Edmonton!! Our new Fall 2017 Schedule is here!

The evening air is cooler, the sunrise is later, and it seems like we are all settling back into our routines. I love fall. I love the crisp breeze and wearing scarves. Even for those of us not in school or without little ones in school yet, the fall is still a great time to hit a reset button. Small changes in our daily routine can have huge impacts on our health and overall fitness goals.

Wake up 15 minutes earlier each day to sneak in a quick sweat or stretch.
Challenge yourself to test out one new healthy recipe weekly.
Carry around a water bottle to make sure you are hydrated.
Focus on your alignment throughout your work day or while playing with your little ones.
Schedule a class or two to attend every week to make yourself accountable to others.

These are just a few ideas, but the list is lengthy! How are you adding a little extra health to your daily life? A little does go a long way and remember, do not strive to be perfect. Strive to find a healthy balance for you in a way that makes you feel happy, proud, and motivated.


We are very excited to announce our fall schedule!

As of October 2, 2017 all of our classes will be indoors (unless it is a gorgeous day and then we will make sure to take advantage!) and ALL of our classes will be held at the Queen Alexandra Community Hall (10425 University Ave NW).

We would love to assist you in finding the healthiest version of YOU! We are specialized in prenatal and postpartum fitness and strive to continually educate ourselves to bring you the best ideas, tips, and variations to ensure you enjoy a safe and effective workout each time you come!

Your first class is always FREE! Our class passes are valid at every class we offer so that you can work with your schedule.

We now offer eight child-friendly classes!
Mom & Me Fit is so much fun! Bring your Littles (any ages welcome!) to workout alongside you or play with their new friends while you get sweaty. Currently seeing a Women’s Health Physiotherapist? Perfect! Once cleared, we would love to work together to ensure you are getting back into fitness the best way possible!
Family Fit is now offered twice a week! Bring your spouse and kids to the fun class and only use one class pass! Families who sweat together, stick together and we want to be part of the organized chaos!
Mom & Me Yoga is now officially part of our weekly schedule!! Your baby(ies) can participate with you while your big kid(s) can follow along or bring quieter activities to keep them occupied (colouring or crafts are great).

We are also excited about keeping our two very special  “women-only” classes on the schedule!
Fit Bootcamp is a great way for veteran moms, expecting moms, and non-mothers to all be able to laugh and sweat together!
Prenatal Fit is the perfect way to learn how to safely move your pregnant body as you prepare for the birth of your baby – non-pregnant women are always welcome too!

If you have any questions, never hesitate to contact us. Please also make sure to complete any required forms prior to attending your first class or your first class back after baby.



We look forward to sharing some sweaty high fives soon!