Your idea of celebrating giving birth is to get back out on your beloved slopes. So, what do you need to know about skiing postpartum?
This sport challenges your body. The good news is that you can get back into skiing postpartum, but here’s what you should know first.
Why You Shouldn’t Ski During Pregnancy
Exercise is good for pregnant women, so why stay off the slopes? Well, even the most gentle activities, such as prenatal massage, require a special touch. So it makes sense that extreme sports like skiing — even cross-country skiing — are risky for pregnant women. When you ski, you risk hitting yourself in the abdomen, which could injure the developing fetus.
The good news is that you don’t have to hang up your skis permanently. However, plan to spend nine months to a year sipping cocoa by the lodge fireplace instead of heading out on the slopes.
Ski resorts have averaged more than 40 deaths a year in recent years, so sticking to the bunny slopes isn’t sufficiently cautionary. Instead, find alternative ways to work out while expecting. You can still incorporate many of the muscles used in skiing, making your eventual comeback easier.
The Physical Reality of Readjusting to the Slopes
Pregnancy permanently changes your body. While you can regain most, if not all, of the muscle tone lost, you should educate yourself about your altered risks. Ignoring them means risking injury — and more time sidelined in the lodge.
1. How Pregnancy Impacts Skiing More Than Other Sports
You might find yourself as awkward as a newborn fawn upon returning to the slopes. That’s because pregnancy affects your posture in the following ways:
- Your pelvis tilts further backward.
- Your lower back spinal curve increases.
- Your center of gravity shifts.
- The ligaments around your joints and hips loosen.
Your substitute workout during pregnancy and postpartum recovery should focus on postural exercises that return these muscles to their original configurations. Otherwise, you could develop weaknesses that increase your injury risk.
2. How Long After Birth Can You Go Skiing?
How long after birth you wait to go skiing depends on several factors, including your budget and support system. After all, someone has to watch your new family! Fortunately, you might not feel like jumping back in immediately, as your body needs time to adjust to shifting hormone levels and lactation demands.
Another issue is how you gave birth. C-sections require six to eight weeks of recovery time, during which you should avoid high-intensity and potentially high-impact exercise. Instead, follow your doctor’s orders regarding gentle movement as you heal.
Those who have traditional deliveries typically receive clearance for all exercise at their 6-week follow-up, barring complications. However, keep in mind you might not be up to your old tricks until you rebuild the muscles in your back and hips.
3. Precautions for Returning to the Slopes
When you do return, go slow. Start skiing on flat ground first, mindfully exploring how your skis feel. Can you sense a difference in your back and hips? Stick to the bunny slope and use your best judgment when advancing in difficulty — remember, you have a little one at home depending on you.
Prevention Is Key: Best Exercises to Do While Expecting
Despite the evidence that gentle movement improves pregnancy outcomes, there’s relatively little research regarding how to jump back into your old program postpartum. However, most experts emphasize rebuilding muscle tone in the hips and abdomen, which stretch considerably farther than usual during pregnancy and childbirth. Otherwise, athletes risk incontinence and prolapse, embarrassing and painful conditions that may require surgical correction.
Prevention may be the best cure. Focus on exercises that strengthen your hips and back during pregnancy. Take advantage of your freebie trainer pass at the gym and consider hiring one for a few sessions to coach you through your changing body. Invest in some low-cost resistance bands to slip under your couch and do a few sets of squats and leg raises during commercials to keep yourself strong before giving birth.
4 Tips for Getting Back in Skiing Shape After Pregnancy
You’re suited up and ready to hit the slopes. Here are four tips to help you whip yourself back into skiing shape postpartum.
1. Go Slow
Yes, this tip is so important that it bears repeating. The muscles and connective tissues around your lower back and hips just expanded to 250 times their original size to let you deliver your bundle of joy. Even advanced yogis don’t place such demands on their bodies during practice.
Treat your first trips skiing postpartum as you would if recovering from hip replacement surgery. Learn how shifts in weight you once handled with ease feel different. You might not mind all of the changes. Does increased flexibility help your performance? Mindfully explore the difference.
2. Talk to an Instructor
Most ski instructors go into the profession because they love the sport. As such, they’ve worked with other postpartum skiers — they may be one themselves.
Seek someone with experience working with postpartum skiers whenever possible. They can provide valuable safety tips to keep you free from further injury as you recover.
3. Wear Compression Shorts
What’s under your ski gear? One item should be a pair of compression shorts, the thicker the fabric, the better. Why? Recent research shows that wearing such attire lends stability during forward motions such as a lunge. These garments can also ease any pain that arises from your altered hip configuration.
4. Strengthen Your Low Back, Hips and Abdomen
Work on specific exercises that target your back, hips and abdomen as you recover postpartum. For example, you can add the following bodyweight moves to your routine and do them in your living room while your infant naps. Add weights or resistance bands as you gain strength:
- Squats with a side raise: Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips’ width apart. Bend your knees and sit back as if you had a chair behind you. Lower to 90 degrees, then return to standing and abduct your right leg. Repeat, switching sides. Perform as many reps as possible.
- Curtsy lunges: Begin standing with your feet about two feet apart. Step one foot behind the opposite leg at an angle as if going into an old-fashioned curtsy. Lower to 90 degrees or just above it before pushing off and moving through center to the opposite side.
- Good morning: Place your feet hips’ width apart, and your fingertips behind your ears. Hinge forward from your hips, bending to roughly 90 degrees while keeping your knees soft and back straight. Do not curve your spine. You should feel this work in the back part of your hamstrings.
- Planks, side planks and plank dips: To hold a standard plank, come into a pushup position or drop to your elbows, creating one straight line from your shoulders to heels. Suck your abs up and in as you hold as long as possible. To perform a side plank, turn to one side, either stacking the feet or placing one in front of the other. To do a dip, enter a side plank, lowering your hips until they lightly tap the floor, then return to a side plank position.
Getting Back Into Skiing Postpartum
If you live to ski, you probably want to celebrate your newborn with a day on the slopes. How long after birth must you wait until skiing? It depends on several factors, and your doctor is ultimately the one who must give the final okay.
However, these tips will help you get back into skiing postpartum, no matter how long your recovery takes. You can rebuild your strength to once again enjoy your beloved sport.