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The Importance of Good Trainers for Running

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This next blog is about something which is vital to all runners – the importance of wearing a good running shoe.  Everyone is different and has a different shoe need but running shoes “are designed to protect your feet from the road, provide traction on different surfaces, cushion the landing shock and support your feet” (Active.com)

I’m trainer obsessed…yes, I admit it!! It must be a family things as my brother even collects them (yes that’s a thing!) I’ve 3 pairs of running shoes, 1 pair of training shoes and a couple of pairs of “fashion” trainers that I don’t really do any sport in, they just look pretty!!  You might be thinking “why does she have so many” and I admit I’m able to wear trainers a lot more than the average person so I do need a few extra pairs for if they get soaked or muddy, etc but please let me explain why I’ve more than one pair of running shoes…

A running shoe has a “life” and its estimated that this is around 300-500 miles before you should replace it, so I have 2-3 pairs of running shoes that I alternate between.  I wear the newer pair (once worn in) for my longer runs and then alternate between the two older pairs for other, shorter runs.  I can feel in a shoe when it starts to need to be replaced – I note achier calf muscles, sorer knees, etc when a shoe isn’t up to scratch any longer.  “Each time you take a stride and land, your foot has to absorb 2 to 3 times your body weight” (Active.com) so it’s vital that the cushioning and support that a trainer has to offer is up to scratch.

It is essential for injury free running that you’re sporting the right footwear.  The first thing I ask any of my runners when they tell me about an injury or pain in their knee, shin, back, ankle is about their shoes and whether they are fit for purpose.  You’d be amazed at what some people run in…

There are so many different types of running shoe – for performance/distance, racing, trail running, etc and there are 3 main categories of “feet” which is all linked to your gait which is the running term for how you run.  It can all get a bit mind blowing…“Running shoes should not only provide substantial midsole cushioning, they should offer arch support, aid the prevention of injuries and can promote improved athletic performance” (Livestrong.com)  It’s a lot from one little thing but it’s the most important bit of kit required for running.  But don’t worry – there are professionals out there that can help!  But before you go you need to ask the following question

What is it I’m training for? Are you a beginner trying to get to 5k, are you going for your first 10k or half or are you full blown marathon training?  The style and amount of cushioning/stability depends on what you are training for.  Quick hint…please don’t pick shoes entirely on colour or style.  It’s not about how they look it’s about how they fit your feet.  Obviously you have to like them but please don’t just get the prettiest in the shop!

So back to the professionals.  There are a number of Running shops out there – loads in the local area (Up and Running in Manchester, RealBuzz in Altrincham, Running Bear in Alderley Edge to name a few) and they are fabulous.  The staff are well trained and will be able to answer any running shoe queries you may have (hopefully!!)  What they’ll do first of is understand your “gait” by assessing how you run on a treadmill (in store).  They will look at how you run and analyse (in layman’s terms) how your stride lands on the belt and see what your feet and ankles do.  You gait goes into three categories – neutral, overpronate (feed land inwards) or supinate (feet land outwards)  Once they have seen how you run and what support your feet need, they will then recommend a shoe which is fit for purpose.  They will offer your shoes which cushion, support and stabilise your feet and ankles. In my personal opinion (and everyone has different) the top running shoes brands for me are Brooks, Asics, Adidas and Mizuno (not in any particular order!!) so keep an eye out for these.  My personal fave is Adidas but I’ve just got a new pair of Brooks and I love them!

By way of my final piece of advice and something which isn’t talked about that much is all about how your shoes fit.  They must feel comfy – they should fit you like a glove so to speak!  Also, you need a bit of space at the end of your shoe – the recommendation is a full thumbs width (yes, like Clarks!!)  This is, I’ve heard, one of the most commonly made mistakes from people with their running shoes.  It is down to the fact that your feet swell and expand when running and you need that extra room to accommodate this.  If your shoes are too small you run the risk of blisters or sore feet (or losing toenails if you’re marathon running – ewwwww!!)

So by way of ending this – go grab your runners and have a look at them and if you’ve even contemplating the fact that they’re probably on their way out, go grab yourself a new pair – in the same way that no-one ever regrets a workout, no-one ever regrets getting a decent, supportive pair of trainers.  If you want any advice please just comment or ask and I’ll share some wisdom if I can!!

Guest Blog…Lorrie Hartshorn on why hiring a PT is one of the best things she’s ever done

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“Treat yourself to some me-time,” they said…

My time with Becca is 100%, unashamedly for me, and there’s something really powerful in blocking out that space every week to look after myself.

Hiring a personal trainer wasn’t something I ever thought I’d do. But, until I became a mum, there was something I didn’t realise:

A tired woman covered in Petits Filous will pull some strange shit.

So while I don’t know quite why I suddenly emailed a personal trainer to book a session, what I do know is this:

  • It was a really big deal for me
  • I felt slightly sick once I hit send

OK, more than slightly.

Wanting to be more than mum

I had my little girl when I was 30. With her came a whacking great dose of post-natal depression.

I did everything to look after her, and nothing to look after myself. Nearly three years later, I was tired, pissed off and really, really unhappy in my body.

I loved being a mum. What I didn’t love was the fact that, somewhere along the line, I’d stopped being anything but mum.

Life was moving in ever-decreasing circles: baby groups, library sessions, supermarket trips, naps in the car.

And right there at the centre of it all was me: overweight, depressed, and almost always slumped in baggy, yoghurt-covered leggings.

Facebook: finally good for something

I found This Mum Can on Facebook.

I’d joined a group for our local area and, in a sudden burst of motivation (I’d had more coffee than usual), I typed up a thread asking members to recommend a personal trainer in south Manchester.

Before I hit enter, I went back and rejigged my post: I wanted a female PT who knew about motherhood and all the never-ending, yoghurt-slinging shit challenges that came with it.

The first poster recommended Becca.

Then the next one.

Then the next.

Either she was really good, or she’d got a lot of fake Facebook accounts. Either way, she seemed like a good choice.

I booked a session.

The Mouth from the South arrives…

Becca turned up at my house with a number of terrifying things: a step, weights, a mat, and a look on her face that said, “You’re about to exercise.”

She’s very expressive.

We started at what I now realise was a super gentle pace, baby-stepping into HIIT (high intensity interval training) with plenty of gaps between sets so I could lie face-down on my patio and wonder why I was doing this to myself.

And we got through it. I got through it.

Becca was really motivating, and my shame at being so unfit didn’t seem to faze her – as she put it, there were only three rules:

1) Don’t faint

2) Don’t puke

3) Don’t die

The way she figured, if I worked hard enough to hate it, I wouldn’t do it again.

Again! Again!

I did it again.

I signed up for another five sessions. Then another 10. And we’re still going.

The exercises have got harder, the weights have got heavier, the gaps between sets have got shorter.

And me?

I’ve got stronger. I’ve got more toned. I’ve taken up running and smashed the targets I set for myself. I’ve ugly cried after getting off the treadmill because I was proud, and I’ve never been proud of my body.

Now, my little girl plays in the garden and joins in while Mummy and “Auntie Becca” work out. And when I’ve had to take breaks for illness or to recover from some surgery, I’ve wanted to get back to it.

I’ve never wanted to work out before.

Hiring a PT has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

My time with Becca is 100%, unashamedly for me, and there’s something really powerful in blocking out that space every week to look after myself.

Working out has taught me that I want to be strong, not skinny. It’s shown me that I can actually stick to things that I find tough rather than throwing the towel in (or at Becca).

And it’s taught me to look after my sizeable bum with lots and lots of squats, because who wants a pancake ass anyway?

I’m pretty sure I’ll keep This Mum Can Fitness around. I’ve got more goals and a long way to go before I’ll feel as fit as I want to be, but I really feel like I’m on the right track.

This mum can. This mum did.

Lorrie’s a Manchester copywriter – http://lorriehartshorn.com. When she’s not being tortured by Becca, she spends her time sitting on her fabulous, squat-enhanced bootay and writing website content for her lovely clients.

Diastasis Recti – what it means, how to help it heal & what to do if it’s you’re not feeling right

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The official medical term for this is “diastasis recti abdominus” and although often referred to as a “Mum Tum” it is actually a medical condition which in some cases can have serious consequences.   It is a condition where the right and left sides of the rectus abdominis, the so called ‘six-pack’ muscles, spread apart at the stomach midline (the linea alba).  Separation of your abdominal muscles during your 3rd trimester of pregnancy is entirely normal and ALL women will experience this to a degree.  This is due to the growth of the baby in the uterus pushing against the abdominal wall, and pregnancy hormones that soften connective tissue.  Separation can occur any time in the last trimester but is most problematic after pregnancy when the abdominal wall is weak.

What are the consequences?  When the stomach muscles are drawn apart during pregnancy they are unable to work properly and can’t respond to the stresses and strains of the day to support your body as they should, and it can prevent optimal function of the core.  Your abdominals are important in supporting your back if a diastasis is left untreated, it can cause a number of issues including pain in your back or pelvis, poor core stability and pelvic floor dysfunction – yes, you read that right – pelvic floor muscles.  66% of women with diastasis recti have some level of pelvic floor dysfunction (Spitznagle et al 2007).

Your stomach muscles and pelvic floor muscles are intrinsically linked and to strengthen one will hugely help the other.  This is another reason why doing your pelvic floor exercises is so important.  In many cases physio is needed to help restore stability to the abdominals so they can function optimally.  It is easy to check if you have a diastasis; lie on your back with your knees bent and press your fingers down towards your spine a few centimetres above and below your belly button, perform a sit up movement and see can you feel the rectus abdominus muscles come together around your fingers. If the gap is more than two fingers width, you should seek out physiotherapy to help abdominal recovery.

Traditional “ab” work like crunches and planks won’t restore normal muscle activity if you have a diastasis and if performed inefficiently, can actually cause more harm than good.  This is why I never have “crunches” or anything like that in my classes and why I demonstrate ½ planks along side full planks or give you the option to do a totally different exercise so that you don’t do anything unsuitable until your body is “ready” and back to normal – whatever normal might be!!

Some helpful tips for general function and healing after having a baby are:

  1. Reduce the load on your abdominal wall by avoiding excessive lifting and twisting – when getting out of bed, always roll onto your side, drop your legs off together and push up into a sitting position with your arms. Do the reverse to get back into bed.
  2. Allow your body to rest as much as possible for the first 4-6 weeks. As hard as it is for some (not so much for others!!) your body WILL thank you for it.  From 6 weeks post labour (10 after c-section) you are fine to start exercising but take things easy – don’t do full HIIT training off the internet – try and exercise with someone like me, a post natal specialist.  I’m qualified to know suitable exercises and also quickly adapt exercises if you can’t fully complete the full one or if it hurts you section scar, etc
  3. Avoid all activities that place stress on your stomach, and that stretch or overly expand the abdominal wall. Movements to avoid:
    • All strenuous exercises that cause your abdominal wall to bulge out
    • Sit ups/abdominal crunches
    • Holding baby on one hip continuously
    • Lifting and carrying heavy objects – this includes the car seat so be very careful when lifting that in and out of the car and avoid carrying it for prolonged periods of time
    • Intense coughing while your muscles are unsupported (obviously sometimes unavoidable but if possible!)
  4. When lifting your baby, draw in and hold your tummy muscles, bend your knees and bring baby into your chest when you lift.
  5. Keep yourself well hydrated and eat as healthily as possible to promote tissue healing. As hard as it is, the more fruit and veg you have early on, the healthy option will help your recovery – sorry!!! Ha ha

So by way of finishing this blog – if you don’t feel “right” please don’t ignore it – get some help.  Your doctor can refer you for appointment with a specialist women’s health physiotherapist.  Professional advice is essential in your recovery and the sooner you do it, the better it is.  Please speak to your GP before or at your 6 week check and they will be able to refer you for an NHS appointment.

If you didn’t want to wait for an NHS referral, you can go to a Mummy MOT practitioner privately. I work closely with pelvic physiotherapist, Felicity Nicholson who provides a specialist post natal physiotherapist assessment called a ‘Mummy MOT’. She believes all women postnatally should be able to access pelvic physiotherapy to help them recover optimal pelvic health. She works in the NHS and privately and uses pilates to help mums restore optimum abdominal and pelvic floor recovery.  These do cost money (approx. £65-75) but (personally) they’re worth the investment entirely as you get a personal  1:1 session to discuss any issues or problems you may have discovered and you get a tailored plan designed specifically for your post natal rehab.

Race Prep – hints and tips

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To follow on my diet blog from a few weeks ago and due to the fact my first 10k of 2018 is coming up on the 10th March, this week I’m blogging about “race prep diet” and what I recommend.  Now I only run (relatively) short distances – primarily 5k and 10k’s, so these tips are only for those distances.  I’ve never run a marathon so would highly recommend thorough research on diet and race prep if you’re thinking of doing that.  Right with that caveat out the way…

 

The day before a race…this is when I actually start my “race” prep as before this point, I’m just eating my normal healthy(ish) diet! First off, I totally 100% ensure that I’m hydrated – today of all days I ensure I’ve had my 8 glasses of water – it’s so important for your body to be firing on all cylinders.  Most people have heard about “carb loading” before a run, well I kind of agree but don’t take this too far!  It’s important to get a few extra carbs in the night before a race.  This could be pasta, rice, potato or cereal based carbs  but don’t eat too much.  A normal sized portion is more than enough as carb loading too much or overeating can make you feel bloated and sluggish and that’s the last thing you’d want before a run.  Lean protein alongside the carbs is great – chicken is always my go to as it’s so versatile.  Try and avoid anything too high in fat like cheese sauces, pastry, cream as these can sit heavy on your stomach and can be slower to transit through your system.

 

The day of the race…breakfast is NON-NEGOTIABLE.  You have to eat.  You need energy in your system to burn in order to run at your best.  Eat at least 1 hour before the run is due to start.  Some winning pre-race breakfasts include:

  • Bagel and peanut butter
  • Toast with jam or honey
  • Granola, yoghurt and fruit
  • Porridge

All the above top up the “glycogen levels” which is the stored energy in your muscles which will release slowly during your run.

I team my breakfast with a smoothie – I’ve tried the protein shake route a few times but personally I prefer a scoop or two of the powder in a smoothie rather than in milk.  My fave smoothie is a Joe Wickes (shock horror) one called Fats Me Up Smoothie – it’s got almond milk, yoghurt, blackberries, blueberries, avocado and a little honey in it – it’s amazing!

 

Personally I like to drink a sports drink on the way to the race rather than water for that extra sugar hit.  My favourite is Lucozade Orange (it’s also a fab hangover cure…ha ha) and I will sip probably half a bottle on my way to the run.  I hate needing a wee as it annoys me to stop on the way round (if there’s even the facilities to do so!!) and running needing a wee is just the pits so I tend to limit my drinking until the race is done and then I rehydrate with water (and maybe a few sneeky prosecco’s!!)

 

Anyone got any fab tips to share?  I love hearing everyone’s pre-race hints and rituals…

Running and raising money….This Mum Can Run!

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Fundraising for SANDS – what I’m doing and why

I like to raise money for Charity – it’s my way of giving back and the feeling you get when you have hit your fundraising target it amazing!!  It really does help you run quicker and further!!

For 2018 I decided to get my clients and followers to choose which charity to fundraise for.  It was an extremely tight vote but the charity which won was SANDS – the stillbirth and neonatal death charity – sadly a charity extremely close to too many of us.

If anyone isn’t aware of what they do…“Sands supports anyone affected by the death of a baby, works in partnership with health professionals to try to ensure that bereaved parents and families receive the best possible care and funds research that could help to reduce the numbers of babies dying and families devastated by this tragedy”

Sadly 15 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth every day in the UK which is just shocking.  I couldn’t even imagine the horror of this so want to do everything I can to raise money to not only help research to reduce this number but also to help support the families who have to live through the tragedy of losing their little ones.

So what am I doing…

First off – Running – A LOT!!  I’ve currently signed up (or going to sign up to) the following runs:

  1. Arley Hall 10k on the 10th March 2018
  2. Manchester 10k on the 20th May 2018
  3. We Are Manchester 10k on the 8th July 2018
  4. Tough Mudder on the 9th September 2018
  5. Manchester Half Marathon on the 14th October
  6. Tatton 10k – November/December – cant decide which!

 

Secondly – donate a % of my running club profits.  I am going to donate £1 for everyone who signs up to my 5-10k running club for 2018 to the charity

Thirdly – charity events – hopefully 4-5 of them.  My first one is to organise a bleep test for member to take part in! Logistics and everything need to be sorted and I will keep you posted on this, I’ll run some charity runs over the summer with a % of the entry going to Sands and finally I’ll do some other events – any ideas welcome!!

My plan is to get as many people as possible to run for Sands so collectively we can raise a HUGE amount of money for the extremely important work they do and for the research they continue to do into causes and preventions so that hopefully fewer and fewer people have to go through this.  Please let me know if you’d like to be added to the main This Mum Can Page or let me know if you set up your own Just Giving page as I’d love to keep a tally of how much we’ve raised in total.  Obviously I will keep you posted throughout the year on how we’re getting on!

Also, if you have any great fundraising ideas, please get in touch as I’d love to do loads of different things this year…

Blog about my diet…not dieting!

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I get asked a lot about my diet and also on dieting so thought i’d note down my thoughts for everyone in one place.

So first off, I dont diet  – I hate the idea of it and I especially hate the idea of Chloe ever hearing about me “dieting” so I choose to make the healthy diet choice most of the time!  Not all the time as life’s far too short, just more often than not.

Don’t think because I run a lot that I can eat what I want.  Unfortunately life’s not that simple or kind.  By all means if I’ve been working out loads and done a long run then definitely I’m treating myself to a piece of cake/chocolate bar but I cant do this everyday.

My focus is on healthy eating and trying to make stuff from scratch to reduce my reliance on ready meals.  Dont get me wrong, they totally have their place in busy life, just dont have them all the time.  If you ever look at the salt/sugar content in a normal ready meal, you’d be horrified by the amount.  When we did our extensino we were without a kitchen for 8 weeks!!  We had a toaster, a microwave and a kettle and we ate so much bread and so many ready meals in that two months.  Genuinely I have barely touched a ready meal since.  They just make you feel crap – and never full.

I get a lot of my recipes from the Body Coaches recipe books.  It’s really helped give us some simple, quick and healthy meals for not only the husband and I but also for the kids.  I recommend eating whole grains, fruit, vegetable and healthy fats.  I’ve stopped buying “fat free” or “reduced fat” items from the supermarket as I personally dont see how something that has been altered can be healthier than the real thing.  Full fat yoghurt is surely better for you than something which has been modified and then altered to taste like full fat yoghurt?  Surely??  The only caveat to that rule is semi skimmed milk – full fat milk is just too much!!

Drink more water is my next bit of advice.  You’re meant to drink approx 2 litres every days which can be a challenge but once you focus on doing it, it does become easier after a while.  Also, on the flip side of this, dont drink too much water – an “overabundance of water can be futile”.  It’s critical to drink water, especially when training but too much of it can lead to issues such as cramping, bloating or worse so definitely dont overdo it!

Some experts say eat little and often and some say eat 3 normal sized meals a day and have healthy snacks in between.  I prefer the later personally as I enjoy having an evening meal with my husband (when I’m home and not working!!)

Breakfast in my opinion is non-negotiable.  I need food in me to function.  Even if I’m doing Parkrun at 9am on a saturday morning, I’ll always grab a banana or something en route and then have my breakfast when I’m home.  My everyday go to breakfast is cereal – maybe it’s the 6 years working at Kellogg’s which has indoctrinated my psyche but I love it.  Cold milk and Shreddies is my favourite but I do love a bowl of Cheerios (I can say this now I dont work for the big K!!)

Lunch for me is usually a sandwich or a salad.  I have a preferred tendency towards wraps which I know are high for “Syns” on Slimming World but I really like them and I find them more filling that bread or a roll (barm, bap, whatever you want to call them!) and I like the way you can cram them full of lettuce and other bits without it spilling over the edge!!

Dinner as I said earlier is normally a Body Coach recipe.  My current favourites are the Chilli Con Avocado, the Oaty Chicken and in a hurry curry fried rice.  I’m trying new ones all the time so will keep you all posted when I find any other crackers!

Snacks are my weakness.  Finding a quick, healthy snack (which isnt always fruit) is tough going.  As I’m so active, I’m hungry A LOT.  If there’s chocolate in the house then I’m all over it so I try not to have it in!  I try and go for things like maltloaf, yoghurt with granola/fruit, protein bars, but sometimes they just dont cut it so I go with the “moderation” approach.  In that if I’ve run loads, done a workout and eaten primarily healthily that day, then I can have the odd chocolate mousse/bar of dairy milk/packet of the kids animal biscuits!!  You’ve got to reward your hard work somehow right??

So that’s it in a nutshell.  I’m not a fan of keeping food diaries or monitoring things too much but I believe it’s a matter of a happy medium…nice healthy, nutritious meals with a few treats thrown in to keep yourself sane/happy

One final note…wine counts as one of your 5 a day right?????!!!!!!!!

Blue Monday – how to combat it with exercise

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Apparently today is the most depressing day of the year – brilliant! This teamed with the fact that here in Manchester it didn’t even get light today except for a small 5 minute stretch where the rain ceased and the sun actually came to show it’s face means that it’s that little bit more sad but do you know what helps – exercise!!

I had a lovely bunch of 5 mums come to my Urmston class this morning and we worked out as normal, even in the pouring rain.  It wasn’t the best, I’m not going to lie – I’ve definitely prefer running my classes when it’s warm and dry but the resounding agreement from all the ladies was that once you’re out, it doesn’t matter.

So that lead me to thinking – how do I get people to get past the barrier of actually leaving the house to exercise rather than putting the kettle on and making themselves another brew??  So my thought process on this is the following:

  • Get your workout gear out the night before. Surely if the first thing you see in the morning is your clothes in a pile next to your bed, then you’ll get up and put them on.  One of the benefits of my morning classes is that you don’t need to shower or put make up on before coming!!
  • Make it a date with a friend! You’re so much less likely to bomb out on a class if you’ve arranged to go to it with someone – personally it’s the hatred of potentially letting someone else down which would spur me on to get my ass in gear and get there
  • Pay in advance for a class. If you’ve paid already, you might as well go otherwise you’ll lose money and that’s something I hate to do!  You can bulk buy for 5 weeks at all my classes for just £20 and having that financial implication should really help you get out the door
  • Remember how good you feel at the end. Endorphins are amazing things and they make you feel so bloody good.  I was talking to someone on Instagram today and she commented about how she’d love to be able to bottle and sell endorphins – wouldn’t that be a dream.  Instead they come from a damn good workout

So hopefully the above tips might come in useful this dreary January day.  I hope to see you at one of my classes soon.  Remember I’m offering free trials at all my classes for January so take full advantage and try something new – you wont regret a workout, you’ll only regret not doing one.

#januaryblues #bluemonday #newyearsresolution #journeytofit

Sports Bras…their importance and a few recommendations of good ones

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I get so many questions from mums at my classes about the best sports bras to wear whilst exercising and in particular from my Mum and Baby classes, to wear when breastfeeding.  I didn’t breastfeed for that long with either of my kids and am only a B cup so I didn’t have any first hand experience or knowledge/wisdom to impart so after a recommendation from Alex at my Altrincham class, I went on the Boobydoo website and got in touch with them, a specialist sports bra retailer, to get their advice which I could then impart onto you all!!

It is SOOOOOO important to wear a decent sports bra – not only to stop your boobs getting saggy but to protect the breast tissue from any high impact activities such as running.  As the boobydoo website states “During a run, your body uses over 200 muscles, your knees hit the ground with about eight times your body weight and your breasts move on average 14cm. A sports bra can reduce breast movement by 80%, saving you from damaging the tender ligaments that prevent breast sagging”

Boobydoo have an unbelievably huge range of sports bras (and have definitely NOT paid me to do this blog…this is just a personal recommendation to a fab company!)  On the website – www.boobydoo.co.uk you are not only able to shop by specific activity/sport, there is a “right size” section to help you buy the right type, size, etc and they even having a dedicated maternity section – you can get any type of sports bra you want no matter your size, shape or need!

The lovely Emily emailed me a few weeks back after me asking their advice on maternity bras and this is what she recommends:

  • The Cake Maternity Zest Sports Bra is a great bra for mum’s that are wanting to get back into more medium-high impact sports. It has a full structure and provides great support, comfort and a flattering style. It also provides security of a pragmatic nursing sports bra whilst offering sufficient support. It has a flexible wire, wider padded straps to reduce pressure, racer back conversion clip and most importantly a drop down cup for easy feeding. It ranges from a 32-40 band size and B-H cup. https://www.boobydoo.co.uk/cake-maternity-zest-sports-bra-orange-navy
  • Another brand within the Maternity Range is boob, this is a great brand that offer comfortable bras for busy mum’s. One of the bras which I would suggest is the Fast Food Soft Sports Bra, this offers low-medium support so great for everyday wear, yoga, pilates and fitness classes. We don’t suggest this bra for people doing high impact activities such as running as it wouldn’t offer sufficient support. But it offers comfort, good movement as it’s not restricting and also the material is quick drying and ultra-soft.
  • Finally the third brand we have in our Maternity range is Belabumbum, this is another great brand that have really thought about what features are essential for a mum who is breastfeeding. One of their bras which I would recommend is the Sporty Mesh Nursing Sports Bra. This bra is breathable and great for low-medium impact activities. It is wireless and lined with a contrast cotton for comfort. It also has an easy-one handed nursing clips to allow the cup to drop down easily for nursing. https://www.boobydoo.co.uk/belabumbum-sporty-mesh-nursing-bra-grey-aqua

So jump on the website and have a look round and see if there’s anything which takes your fancy.  They’ve also said if anybody from This Mum Can needs any help or advice then tell them to get in touch – they have a live chat, a contact number and obviously an email address too!

The other thing that I have now had 2 of my clients buy is a “booband” https://thebooband.com/ It is in essence a band which goes over the top of your normal sports bra and it stops any excessive movement and the two people who wear these rave about them – their boobs literally don’t move when doing circuits!

I’d love to hear of any other great hints/tips people have or any recommendations of great companies or other places to get sports bras and then I can add these great sites to my website to make sure people are getting the best advice and help out there and protecting their boobs as much as possible.

My review of the BBC #Mumtakeover in Blackpool

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Yesterday I went to Blackpool to BBC 5 Live’s Mum Takeover event.  400 mums got together to have the UK’s biggest conversation about Mums and their mental health.  It was brilliant and so great to be part of the discussion.

It was hosted by Anna Foster from BBC 5 Live and then celebrity Mums Stacey Solomon, Rochelle Hulmes (I have a total girl crush on her!!) and Giovanna Fletcher did a fab job running round the Blackpool Circus room talking to various different mums about their journeys.  There was also a panel of experts including Neev Spencer (broadcaster and DJ), Annie O’Leary (Chief Editor of NetMums), Clare Law (Blackpool Better Start) and Alain Gregoire (Perinatal Psychiatrist and Founder of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance) who were brilliant at relating the individual stories to a wider picture.

I also got my minute of fame live on the Radio which was fab.  It was meant to be a 20 minute discussion but as happens with Live things, they tend to change last minute so it just ended up being a 5 minute chat.  I was with 2 other Mums who were going to the event – Caroline, a stay at home mum/part time administrator who has 3 kids and Danielle, an employment lawyer specialising in maternity and pregnancy discrimination and we were there to talk about the challenges Mums (and Dads) face around work.  I was there to give a bit of a balanced view that it’s not all bad out there and that some companies can make it work for Mums and let them compress hours or work part time.

My main argument, which I know that most of you will agree with is that if you treat a Mum with trust and give her a bit of flexibility in her role, then you will get an amazing worker.  We can multitask like nothing on earth and with a supportive nudge in the right direction, we’ll fly.  Some of us may work part time but we can do more in those 2, 3 or 4 days than you’ll ever understand!!  The knowledge and experience some companies miss out on with not being flexible towards the working week must be utterly staggering…but that’s something I can go on about for an eternity!!

So the main three themes of the day were Lonliness, Work/Life Balance and Post Natal Depression and the three themes whilst almost look exclusive, were so interlinked it was brilliantly done.  The lonliness linking to post natal depression is quite an obvious one but when coupled with the pressure of trying to balance everything in life.  Whether it’s working as a company owner, an employee or as a stay at home mum (yes, definitely still work) it was amazing to hear that we all struggle to balance everything.

One of the main discussions which resonated with me most was the #mumguilt and the idea of trying to “have it all” or “do it all”.  It was so nice to feel that I wasn’t alone in my thinking but the best bit that I will take away from yesterday was the brilliant discussion about what actually defines “having it all” – what is the “all”?.  The all isn’t defined in any way shape or form and what some people have, others might now even want and vice versa.  So maybe we all need to remember something and Annie at NetMums said it brilliantly – we all need to stop beating ourselves up about giving 100% because maybe 70% is the perfect goal – and maybe that is more than good enough!!  We’ll see hey!

So head over to any social media channel and search the #mumtakeover and get involved in the conversation – this is just the start of it and I would love to see and hear your stories of personal battles, life “wins” that you want to shout about and general hints and tips which you’ve learnt along the way!

My Mummy MOT…

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On Friday last week I went and had a Mummy MOT and now I’m going to tell you all about it and basically tell you go and have one done!  It was AMAZING…and I’m 2 years post baby, just wish I’d had one done years ago.

A few months back, I was contacted by a lovely lady called Felicity about joining my Beginner Running Club but dates/times didn’t work but we got chatting and she told me all about what she does.  She is a women’s health physiotherapist who works both for the NHS and privately out of the Pilates Rooms in Urmston and offers post natal physiotherapy assessments of the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles – a Mummy MOT!

So we got chatting on facebook and decided to meet up to see how our two businesses could work together.  Over a coffee (in the lovely Café Rose in Sale Moor!!) we talked about how our two businesses could work in unison – recommending each other to our clients but we decided that before I could recommend a Mummy MOT to people, I’d actually have to have one!!  EEEK!!

A few weeks later (bloody crazy diaries!!) we finally managed to get a date in for me to come across to Urmston to have the check up.  I managed to get a friend to have Harry (thanks Alex!!) as it’s the kind of thing you need to concentrate on and having a toddler there would have been a disaster.  Obviously having a little baby there in the pram would be fine, but not a crazy active 2 year old!!

So what did it involve…first off it was just a talk through any issues, pain, problems, etc that I’ve had over the last few years since having both Chloe and Harry.  I talked through my pelvis issues and about the fact I still had a “mum tum” as I didn’t think my stomach muscles were back together – nothing luckily too major from my side.

Then the main examination started – Felicity was so lovely and was amazing at putting you at ease. There were 3 elements to the consultation.  The first one was just to stand there in your knickers (top still on, it’s not that bad!!) and Felicity assessed my “alignment” I say alignment loosely as she doesn’t like to use the term but she looked at how things were when standing – was my pelvis level, did my rib cage look normal, were my legs standing straight, were my feet in the normal position, etc.  In my case, my left rib cage is slightly higher than my right and my bellybutton is slightly off centre.  All of my “issues!!!” seem to be with my left side so there was no real surprise there

After that, it was the pelvic floor examination (yes, finger up there…but after childbirth, who cares right??!) It wasn’t the most pleasant thing I’ve ever spent my Friday morning doing but it didn’t hurt and it wasn’t horrid and because I wanted to know if it was working properly, it was a means to an end.  Again Felicity was fabulous.  So she checks how your pelvic floor is working – both your automatic pelvic response as well as your squeeze capability.   Mine was pretty good (phew!!) but I have been actively doing my pelvic floor exercises for a good 6-9 months now and from all the running I do, I have built it back up quite well – but there is still an element of stress incontinence so there is still work to do!

Felicity has given me a number of exercises to do and sent me off with a few great resources for me to go and do some more research into things to help improve it.  It was great to learn how to actually do your pelvic floor raises properly – whilst breathing…because randomly (and unconsciously) I seem to hold my breath to do them which is very odd!!  Shockingly 1 in 3 of us have issues with stress incontinence and as much as it’s become the norm – it really shouldn’t be.  You can fix it, and you don’t have to live with it (*rant over)

After the pelvic floor exam, you put your knickers back on and then it was onto the abdominal exam.  Lying on the bed first off, Felicity did the discitis recti test to see how separated your stomach muscles are.  Everyone’s muscles separate during pregnancy – it happens naturally as the baby grows but there are a lot of factors which can prevent them returning back to normal and sometimes they need a bit of assistance in the form of exercise to get them as close together as possible.  Not everyone’s will return exactly as they were before pregnancy, but with the right help, you can get them pretty darn close.  So my muscles aren’t back together (boo ☹) which I knew, but it was nice to get confirmation of that.  There’s a 2 finger gap above the belly button, 3 fingers at the belly button and only a 1 finger gap below it.

With this in mind, Felicity gave me 4 different exercises to do initially and then how to enhance those to improve the gap and so now I am on a mission!  She has recommended just doing 10 mins of the exercises per day and so I will keep you posted on how that goes.  I’m on day 3 of doing them so I’ll give it a while and then go back and get her to re-check and I’ll report back!

After the session, Felicity wrote up all the notes and emailed the summary across to me along with giving me pictures of the exercises with helpful notes on how to do them again (as no-one ever remembers every exercise properly when they get home!!) and she has given me a fabulous leaflet all about abdominal separation which I am going to dissect and start sharing with you bit by bit.  If anyone would like the leaflet sending to them – please drop me a note and I’m happy to share it with you.

So all in all what do I recommend?  Go and have one done.  It has put my mind at ease on so many things.  There are pro’s and con’s of going as I suppose it could make you feel a bit down if you thought things were ok and they’re not but I’d personally rather know.  The session cost £75 which might seems like a big expense…but think about things long term – especially if you have pelvic floor issues or you’re worried about your stomach.  In theory every woman should have these checks after having a baby as part of the 6 week check but that doesn’t happen, we all know how bad the 6 week check is – it’s all about the baby and not anything to do with us as mums.  You need to look after yourself physically and mentally and I have learnt so much about myself and so much about how I can help you guys even more.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask – as you can read from above, I’m not shy with sharing!!! Ha ha

Felicity’s contact details are and she’s based in the Pilate Rooms, The Old Police Station on Station Road in Urmston:

07835157104

info@pelvicphysiomanchester.com

www.pelvicphysiomanchester.com