How Can I Prevent Stretch Marks?

QUESTION

Dear Fitness Expert,
Do you have any tips on exercise or nutrition that will help prevent stretch marks? Also, I enjoy running and am wondering just how long it's okay to continue. Thanks.

ANSWER

A good question. Preventing stretch marks has been debated for decades. Everyone has a remedy, every other pharmaceutical company makes a claim, but nothing has ever been scientifically proven.

We do know that much of the stretch mark dilemma is connected to the amount of weight a woman gains, her fitness level, and genetics. But there are still things you can do to help prevent more stretch marks than necessary.

While taking part in a study about pregnant Olympic moms, I spoke with many marathoners, race walkers, cross-country skiers, biathletes, U.S. Track and Field athletes, and bobsledders. The preferred remedy among elite athletes who log many hours pounding the pavement or biking is Vitamin E, both E oil and E-based lotions. Because these women all worked out fairly hard, they were rigid about taking their prenatal vitamins as well as extra Vitamin C (which helps rebuild connective tissues) and Vitamin E (which helps prevent scarring/stretch marks).

However, promise me that before you begin a new vitamin routine, you will speak to your OB/GYN about the extra Vitamin E. It is very important to know just how much you can take and only your doctor should tell you that.

Lastly, drink lots of water. I know, I know...you've heard this over and over, but by cutting out (or down) on caffeinated drinks and drinking more water your skin will be healthier and, thus, stronger. You've heard the expression, "the breakfast of champions." This is the stretch mark preventative of champions.

Regarding your running, be safe, runs as long as it feels good and have fun. Good for you!

-- Alex

Alexandra Allred

Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.

Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!