Let's Talk about Ribs.
Before I start this novel, let me make it clear... EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT. Every pregnancy is different. This is MY experience and what MY BODY went through years after giving birth.
You may not know, but I have a 4 year old. My physical post pregnancy recovery was standard, waited for physician approval before I did any type of fitness. Took a while to regain my strength but I knew that would be the the case and had prepared for that.
Fast forward 26 months.
I participated into a class that was not my usual field of fitness, it involved doing pull ups... something that I had not done in countless years. That is when it all went downhill. Soon after doing a few that was an instant burn on the midline of my abdomen & center of rib cage. After that I took it easier for the remainder of the class. I approached a client who is also a physical therapist and she instantly knew what was up with my body and we booked our first session.
Long story short: my body, like all bodies, changed during pregnancy and did not completely recover from those changes. No amount of fitness could help what had happened to my body during pregnancy, I could do all the post pregnancy safe workouts with success but those alone did not physically correct what had changed during the ten months of body changes. Did you know that you aren't pregnant for 9 months? Yup. My torso is short compared to my leg length, because of that I 'carried high' and my rib cage expanded a lot. That also caused my spine to change and pelvis to be more anterior than before. The strangest change (ok I thought it was the strangest part!) is that my diaphragm was "stuck" and could did not have a full range of motion. Why is this important? Well, being able to properly breathe is kinda important right?
Yes I do have diastasis recti (super popular buzz words right now amiright?) but I do not have any pain or discomfort from it. You can some times spot it on my abdomen. My rib cage expansion was my main problem, because it had opened and could not return to where it needed to be on it's own. This caused me to not be able to fully engage or properly my core... causing it to be stressed during the pull ups beyond it's point of control.
How was this fixed? Manually by a professional. My physical therapist had to manually manipulate my rib muscles, yes there are muscles between your ribs, because they were preventing my ribs from fully relaxing back to their natural position for my body. From there I also had dry needling performed on various spots along my back to also help my back muscles relax, they changed due to the rib cage changes. One hip was higher than the other from carrying a child post pregnancy mostly on one side of my body. Of course traps too because we all live with our shoulders glued to our ears. The day the dry needling was performed on my lower back I finally gained the ability to touch my toes. I did not have that range of motion for years! No amount of stretching, foam rolling or rest was going to give me back what I gained from these sessions.
Two morals to this story:
1) Post pregnancy not only refers to the short time directly after a pregnancy but potentially years. Your body rapidly grew a human, it is going to take more than that amount of time to "go back to normal". I say that very loosely, "normal".
2) Seek a medical professional. I am not the medical professional but I can absolutely spot post pregnancy changes and can make suggestions BUT I cannot fix them. Finding a physician or physical therapist is going to be your best bet in these situations. It is your body, you know when something is different or not right.
Remember that this is MY postpartum experience. Every BODY every pregnancy is different. You should always consult your physician if you have any questions during and after your pregnancy.