Hi! It's Becky from @goodfortheswole again! I am so excited to share another great set of exercises with you! As a certified personal trainer, certified women's fitness specialist, and a certified pre/postnatal fitness specialist, I will say that implementing this information is the best thing you can do to restore your core and have a smoother recovery! As a reminder, I am not your doctor and am not working with you one-on-one, so as always, listen to your body and run any questions and concerns by your medical professional. I hope you find this information helpful!!
After having a baby, whether vaginally or via c-section, it is really difficult to connect back to your core muscles. it is EXTREMELY important to focus on this after delivery because strengthening and connecting to the deep core is what brings the abdominals back together, prevents incontinence, reduces chances of developing hernias and prolapse, strengthens the transverse abdominal muscles which act as the body’s corset and pulls everything together, and improves your overall recovery. It also stimulates new connective tissue in your core, which helps you rebuild and strengthen the connective tissue that has been weakened or damaged during pregnancy and delivery.
Trust me, I KNOOOW these simple exercises look, and seem too easy. Often we feel like we have to do these really extreme, intense exercises in order to get extreme results, but I promise that this is the VERY BEST, and BENEFICIAL, thing you can do for your body.
You can do these moves as soon as you feel up to it after delivery. Again, they are very simple; yet, they are building a solid foundation so you can recover in the best way possible.
HOW TO BREATHE:
Watch my breath as I perform each rep. You want to engage your pelvic floor and transverse abdominals with each rep. This is crucial, which is why the first move is simply working on this deep belly breathing, because you cannot strengthen a muscle if you don’t know how to engage it.
- First, relax the pelvic floor on the inhale, and breath out to your sides and into your back. You should feel a spreading, and a slight pressing down sensation. Sitting on a stability ball, or a rolled up towel, can help you feel this releasing sensation better.
- Exhale and initiate a light contraction of the pelvic floor muscles - bring the muscles together, and then lift to the top of your head. Imagine you are lightly zipping up these muscles, or sucking up a blueberry. Think about how a jellyfish moves. They spread out their body (relaxing the pelvic floor), then it comes together and they move upwards. That is essentially what your pelvic floor does when you activate it. Remember, this is a light contraction. There should be no gripping or clenching. Once the pelvic floor has been lifted up, it is now engaged.
- Once you have connected the pelvic floor, you are ready to activate the transverse abdominals. After you have exhaled, and lifted the pelvic floor, add a light wrapping around your lower rib cage. Think about giving your baby a hug with your ribs, or the sides of your stomach. Another helpful cue to engage the transverse abdominis is to exhale while making a “sssss” sound. This is NOT sucking in (although your stomach will lift and move inwards). You should be able to breath while engaged.
- Again, avoid simply sucking the belly to the spine as this restricts activation, proper breathing, inhibits posture, and adds unnecessary force to the pelvic floor.
- Inhale, and relax the muscles once you finish the rep, and repeat this process with each rep
This is a new way of breathing and thinking, so it will feel foreign, and it will take awhile to totally get the hang of. Practice, practice, practice! This is crucial. It is training your brain to connect to this muscles - so be patient, but stay consistent! Don’t get discouraged - you will get it, and it will pay off!!
EXERCISE #1: DEEP BELLY BREATHING
This is the breathing I explained above. Practice 10 reps at a time.
EXERCISE #2: PELVIC TILTS
Inhale, relax your pelvic floor, and gently tilt your pelvis down. Exhale, engage your pelvic floor and transverse abdominals, and then gently tilt your pelvis upwards. Perform 10-12 reps.
EXERCISE #3: HEEL SLIDES
Inhale and relax your pelvic floor. Exhale, engage your pelvic floor and transverse abdominals, gently slide one heel out until it is fully extended. Bring it back to the starting position, and repeat. Perform 8-10 reps on each side.
EXERCISE #4: BENT LEG EXTENSIONS
Inhale and relax your pelvic floor. Exhale, engage your pelvic floor and transverse abdominals, gently lift one bent leg and extend it. Bring it back to the starting position, and repeat. Perform 8-10 reps on each side.
EXERCISE #5: SINGLE LEG CIRCLES
Inhale and relax your pelvic floor. Exhale, engage your pelvic floor and transverse abdominals, gently lift one leg straight up, and make 4 small circles with your toe. Bring it back to the starting position, and repeat. Perform 6-8 reps on each side.
Congratulations on your newest little one, and soak up those newborn snuggles! You are doing amazing, mama!!