Vail Daily column: Regaining your fitness after childbirth |

Vail Daily column: Regaining your fitness after childbirth

As a father with a young toddler, I understand time limitations caused by parenthood. Especially during the first year of life, parents have to adjust to minimal sleep and the added responsibilities around the house. Exercise is usually an afterthought, especially for the nursing mother who is occupied nurturing the newborn. However, there is a very simple solution for new mothers to help alleviate the frustration of finding time to exercise.

The biggest hurdle for mothers to overcome is mainstream fitness propaganda. Popular doctrine promotes confusion and reinforces the fallacy that exercise needs to be varied, complicated and time consuming. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The first step for new mothers is to check with a medical care provider to receive clearance for exercise. After medical clearance, mothers should begin a fitness routine exactly how a toddler learns to move. Toddlers roll and crawl before they get up and walk partly because they don’t have the motor control or stability to maintain an upright posture yet. Rolling and crawling build stability needed to function upright. After a long layoff from exercise, mothers could use a reset anyway and crawling on the ground fits the bill.

If your child is old enough to crawl, performing this movement with them reinforces bonding and movement skills for your toddler. If they are too young, then nap time or when your child is quietly resting gives you ample time to perform the crawl that will give you plenty of fitness opportunities.


There are several ways to crawl in order to get a fitness benefit. Crawling by pulling with your arms as your legs remain dormant build great upper body mobility and strength as you drag your legs across the ground. Use a carpeted area, or place a towel between your legs and the floor if you are exercising on hardwood or tile. Another great routine is to crawl just as a toddler would. Left arm forward as your right knee moves forward contra-laterally and vise-versa. This will rebuild motor control, stability and mobility of the torso, shoulders and hips. Try these variations for five minutes non-stop switching between crawling styles. These exercises will make you tired and sore.

Graduate to a variation I learned from Scott Wacker, doctor of physical therapy, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Movement Physical Therapy in Edwards. Scott’s variation has the trainee crawl just as a toddler would as I described above except elevate your knees off of the ground a few inches. It is the exact same movement of regular crawling except your knees never make contact with the ground. Start easy and use this variation for sets of 10 seconds. It is much harder than it looks on paper. Increase your time as your fitness improves. Work up to crawling for five minutes, resting as needed.

After developing the crawling skill that will allow for movement for several minutes without resting, graduate to get-ups. Start easy and lie down on your back, and get up to a standing position and then lie down again. Repeat for two minutes and challenge yourself to get up a different way each time. Try squatting up, lunging up, roll over onto your stomach, push up onto all fours and then stand up. After getting up and down nonstop for two minutes, graduate to getting up and down for longer periods of time. Working up to 10 minutes will leave nothing to be desired in your fitness routine.

At the end of the day, all you need is five to 10 minutes. Ultimately your body will be rewarded with increased motor control, core stability and work capacity as these movements will surely sky rocket your heart rate. The added bonus will likely be a reduction in body fat as crawling and getting up is quite inefficient and will burn a lot of calories in the midst.

Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company. Richards’ passion comes from overcoming childhood obesity and a T1-L3 spinal fusion. Contact him at or 970-401-0720.

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