Run On, Mama: the FITsplint Maternity Belt

In many ways, I am part of a very fortunate generation of women. Not only do most of us not know what it was like to grow up without sporting opportunities thanks to Title IX, women in their early 30s such as myself are also fortunate to now be part of a generation of women who stay moving when pregnant, without disapproving glares or finger wagging. When my husband and I started talking about starting a family of our own, I knew right away that staying fit and active would not only be good for me during and post-partum, but could help give our little one a great start as well. When we got our exciting news back in December, I was determined to keep moving for as long as I could.

prebabyabs

After a half marathon and a generous tequila flight, ab-selfies in a hotel mirror sometimes happen… right?

This was easy once I got over the initial fatigue in the first couple of months that suddenly made my sleeping patterns rival teenage boys. I felt pep in my step coming back, and while I wasn’t running as fast or as hard as I was previously, it felt great to be back out there moving. Paying attention to my form more than ever, I ran 5 trail miles for my company’s challenge at 11 weeks pregnant, then toed the line with my parents for the 408K at 14 weeks. Things were feeling pretty good and the core muscles that were making an appearance back around the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November were doing a lot of hard work. (And hey, don’t forget: not everyone who has a strong core has a six pack, and not everyone with a six pack has a strong core! I just won the genetic lottery in that when my core gets stronger, it becomes more visible.)

And then, it happened: I started feeling like I was losing the fight. Well, like my abs were losing the fight.

Try as they might, my poor abductors just couldn’t support like they used to, and for someone who already relies heavily on core stability to maintain proper form due to scoliosis pelvic tilt, this became a problem – quickly. Thankfully, as I’ve noted before, I have a lot of fit mamas to look up to, and remembered seeing note about a maternity fitness belt on Elise’s Instagram account. Knowing this was her second time around as a mother runner, I knew I could trust her opinion on what sort of gear might be helpful!

26weeksin

Post-run and looking a little different these days. Now 27 weeks in and still movin’ it best I can. Thank you, FITsplint!

After a few quick exchanges with her to make sure this is what I wanted, I waited patiently for the MomBod Fitness site to begin taking orders for their “new and improved” FITsplint Maternity Fitness Belt. The timing couldn’t have been better for me! They shipped within a week of my thinking that maybe I wasn’t going to be able to keep running. I put my belt on, took it for a spin, and haven’t looked back since. Together, my belt, speed bump and I have logged two 5Ks and one 12K race, and put in some other mileage as well.

Why use a FITsplint?
Here are the fast facts straight from the manufacturer, which I personally can vouch for:

FITsplint BENEFITS
1. Aligns/stabilizes muscle & tissue close together
2. Provides proprioceptive feedback
3. Gentle compression and proper load to tissue
4. Protects from further stress or strain
5. Supports the abs, hips, back and pelvis

The FITsplint belt may look a little daunting compared to all the ‘support bands’ out there which, in my opinion, look like giant headbands, but boy howdy, it does the job! Made of a sturdy yet not-too-heavy neoprene, it’s flexible, moves with the body and is easily adjusted at any time (unless you’re wearing spandex shorts over the belt… that’s a whole different animal!) The interior includes little strips of silicone grip, and the velcro teeth on the wings attach easily and securely to the belt’s outer. While I’m fortunate to not have experienced diastasis recti thus far, it’s great whether or not you have. Shortly after receiving mine, I shared about it with a coworker who is due with her first about a week after me. She had noted that on recent runs it felt like her abs were straining and that she was having pain in, er, places. Reading up on diastasis recti definitely put some fear in her that she may be damaging her body. She immediately bought a FITsplint for herself and has been pleased with hers as well.

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 12.58.47 PM(When it arrived I was so excited I had to tweet about it, naturally. New gear? Tell the world!)

It has become essential run gear for me.
It only took a run or two test-driving for me to determine that the best way for me to wear it was the over-under method as pictured on the front of their packaging: with the wide portion going from my lower back to the top of my pelvis, one strap goes under my growing speed bump, giving it a bit of lift and delivering a bit of bladder relief. The other goes around the middle. Think of this method as running with someone behind you, their arms wrapped under-and-around your belly in a secure sort of hug. Know that awkward hug you give ‘the girls’ when you go up and down the stairs in your house with no bra on? (No? Just me?) Yeah, it’s kind of like that – only better. Much, much better. it’s also great for hiking, when I’m using my slideboard — really any time I am being active and need support. Any time I feel the need to put on a sports bra, I put on my FITsplint too.

FITsplint interior

Close-up of interior silicon strips and care instructions

While it’s definitely a bit bulkier than the headband-style bands I mentioned before, I imagine that it delivers more stability and support. To be honest I never tried that type because while they seemed they’d be good for everyday support if needed, I didn’t imagine it would do much during higher-impact fitness. (Clearly, my sports bra slinging background is talking.) The FITsplint helps me keep my pelvis tucked under (again, my pelvis is tilted forward due to scoliosis,) and thus I actually think my general form in that region may actually better currently than when I am not pregnant! Really.

Full disclosure, it’s not 100% covert under clothes. I still wear clothes on the fitted side – but the FITsplint definitely slimmer than it may seem at first and no worse than if you’re wearing a sports bra with a heavier band under something lightweight and/or fitted. The only downside to the neoprene is that it can get a little warm, which means when I’m done cooling down I definitely unstrap that sweaty puppy as soon as I can… which leads me to the next bonus: totally washable! Post-partum, I plan on wearing it as well, as it can also act as a post-natal belt. (MomBod Fitness does also make a post-natal specific style as well.) At not-quite-five-foot-four, my smaller frame has definitely felt the impact of the additional 25 pounds of front-loading thus far and I know that the FITsplint has made all the difference in my ability to keep moving. Even as runs become shorter, fewer and further between, I know it will help me stay active till it’s time to meet my future running buddy.

Sure, it’s my first rodeo, but if this first time around is any indicator, Mister and I will make good on all that chatter about adding a second running buddy in the future. I know my FITsplint will be ready to go again when that time comes.

Did you use a maternity fitness belt during your pregnancy, or do you plan to? Did it make a difference in how long you were able to stay active?

This post was in no way affiliated with MomBod Fitness or the FITsplint Maternity Belt. I simply hadn’t found many reviews of fitness maternity belts, so I wanted to share what I learned through my own experience as a first time mother-to-be-runner. All opinions and images are my own.

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