Returning to Toes to Bar Postpartum

Returning to CrossFit gymnastics movements postpartum can be a challenging process for many new moms. Of all the movements CrossFit athletes perform, returning to toes to bar postpartum is probably the most difficult to get back.

If you have been looking for help returning to toes to bar postpartum you have probably already seen there isn’t a lot of information available. Fortunately, we have teamed up with postpartum fitness and physiotherapist Christina Prevett to help you better understand the unique requirements of toes to bar for postpartum CrossFit athletes.

Christina is also the owner of Barbell Mamas. An amazing resource for pregnant and postpartum women that love fitness!

When Can I Return to Toes to Bar Postpartum?

What are the safest timelines for toes to bar postpartum? Are there steps should we take to get back to them? What will delay or make progress go faster?

The hard part about this is that unfortunately, the answer is “it depends”.

However… we can give you some guideposts that can help you navigate the process.

You’ll find a few important considerations below. And even more helpful information in our article “The Ultimate Guide to Returning to CrossFit Postpartum”.

Breath Mechanics

When performing gymnastics movements we don’t often consider our breathing. But you would probably be surprised if you paid attention to how often you hold your breath during T2B. This isn’t necessarily a dangerous thing to do, but in the postpartum period understanding breath mechanics and abdominal pressure is extremely important.

When you hold your breath while exercising postpartum, we increase intra-abdominal pressure. In the early stages of postpartum this can delay some of the healing happening within our bodies. So, at least early on, work on breathing during movements as much as possible.

C-Section Scars

Up next, we have to understand that if you had a C-section, you have had some build-up of scar tissue. When kipping, the abdominal muscles are stretched out considerably, placing lots of strain on healing scars. Making sure you’re doing the right C-section scar work (with a pelvic PT if you can) can make a huge difference!


Diastasis Recti

During your pregnancy, your body was forced to make room for a growing baby. One of the naturally occurring phenomenon that occurs is known as diastasis recti. This is where your rectus abdominis muscles (aka your six-pack muscles) separate.

For many women, this heals over time. For others, more individualized care is needed. But either way, paying attention to this postpartum as you build your fitness back is important. The following video shows a great self-assessment for diastasis recti.

As you perform core strength movements to return to toes to bar postpartum, it is important that you keep an eye out for diastasis recti. Specifically, signs such as coning or doming can indicate a need to regress your current exercise. This video shows an early stage abdominal activation exercises and explains what we are monitoring.


Core Strength

With your abdominal muscles being stretched out so much during pregnancy, and with the modifciations you have to make to your training while pregnant, we will commonly see decreased core strength in postpartum CrossFit athletes. Building that back up is an important component of getting back to toes to bar postpartum. Typically, we start with core strength work in more neutral positions to avoid stretching C-section scars. But long term, we’ll have to progress to more stretched abdominal work if we are going to get back to toes to bar.

The Supine Banded Hip March is a great example of an early postpartum core strength exercise we use in our Returning to Gymnastics Postpartum program.


Upper Body Strength

Finally, we have to remember that during pregnancy we typically have women get off the pull-up bar at around the 18 week mark. That results in many women loosing upper body strength in their lats and grip strength. This will take some time to build back as well.

Take these 5 points into consideration when you are starting your journey back to gymnastics movements postpartum. Give yourself some grace. Focus on the fundamentals and you’ll be flying on the bar in no time!

Check out Christina’s amazing programs for pregnant and postpartum women at The Barbell Mamas!