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Reconnecting with your abs, post-partum

Congrats!!! You’ve had your baby and now you’re ready to start exercising. At least, you think you might be. I mean, you had these big plans for all the training you were going to do post baby… Run marathons! Hit the gym three times a week!

Whether those plans now seem a teensy bit ambitious or you’re chomping at the bit to get going, here’s where to start.

These moves are safe to do even BEFORE the doc gives you the OK, and will set the foundation for future exercise.

Click here for instructions on checking for diastasis, plus 1 move NOT to do post-partum!

Carrying and delivering a baby — vaginally or via Caesarian — puts enormous strain on the abdominal muscles, literally tearing them apart from the inside. Not only does this thin out or even separate the muscles, it also wreaks havoc on your brain’s ability to send instructions to your abs, that is to get them to engage or “fire.”

To exercise effectively you’ll need to be able to create full-body tension, or in other words, to tense your body as a unit. And in order to do that, it has to be able to relax as a unit. This is harder than it sounds, especially after a small land mine has exploded somewhere in your midsection, literally disrupting the neural pathways between head and feet.

Start by taking off your socks and shoes. Seriously! Sensation through the soles of your feet will help (re)connect and re(gain) motor control. Think of your muscles like a string of Christmas tree lights. After delivery you may be able to switch on one muscle at a time however your aim is to work towards eventually switching on ALL the lights on at the same time.

FULL BODY RELAXATION. FOCUS ON BREATHING IN.

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent, bare feet flat on the floor. Relax.

  2. Breathe the way your baby breathes when napping: let your belly rise, not your chest

  3. Take 5-10 breaths

2. CREATING TENSION. FOCUS ON BREATHING OUT.

  1. Place your fingers just “in” from your hip bones, i.e. a couple of centimetres diagonally towards your belly button. Your abdomen will feel soft when you are relaxed.

  2. Focus on the exhale. You should feel your abdominal wall engage and tighten beneath your fingertips on exhalation.

  3. Keep your head and shoulders on the floor and a neutral pelvis for now.

  4. Think about pulling your belly-button towards the floor, not “going skinny.”

  5. Do 10 breaths, focusing on the exhale.

3. SWITCHING ON ALL THE LIGHTS

  1. Now try to engage from toes to head.

  2. With each exhalation, try to engage from toes to belly button. Relax with each inhalation.

  3. Every time you breathe out, switch on all the lights!

  4. Press your feet into the floor

  5. Tighten your glutes

  6. Squeeze vaginal wall and anus

  7. Perform a slight pelvic tilt, like you have soup in your pelvis and you want to spill it out the back of your pants and onto the floor.

  8. Brace your core. Pretend you’re protecting yourself from a punch in the stomach. You want your belly to go “hard,” not “skinny.”

Once you get the hang of that, see if you can hold the tension for a few seconds. Practice bracing and breathing at the same time!

You’re on your way! Reconnecting this neural motor pathway is critical to being able to re-engage your muscles and reconnect with your abs. Who knows? You might even find yourself with stronger abs than you had before pregnancy!

Be sure to keep the healing going in the right direction by practicing safely.

Click here for instructions on checking for diastasis, plus 1 move NOT to do post-partum!

For more info on how to reconnect with your abs and how to safely start training again post-partum, contact me.

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