Get Back In Shape After Pregnancy – Part 2
Post Natal Exercise
How to Get Back in Shape After Pregnancy
Continuing from last months article (Part 1 – hormones to understand and focus on posture) here are 5 excellent tips that are proven to get you back to your pre-pregnancy shape, or better, in no time:
1 – It’s a Matter of Movement:
All of us need to move as much as possible and exercise just enough. This is easier said than done with a newborn baby and the sleep deprivation that comes with it. It is an overwhelming time and many mothers can’t even think of exercise. However, the detrimental effects of not moving and sitting for long periods are far worse. New mothers must ‘take it easy’… a good place to start is to simply walk around the block. If this feels ok then walk a little bit further the next day. Catch up on sleep by napping at the same time as your baby and move and play with them when they are awake. Do this until your doctor clears you to be able to do more (generally around 6 – 12 weeks)
2 – Core Rehab
The abdominal muscles become highly stretched and weakened due to pregnancy. As the foetus grows the abdominals are put under a lot of tension. So much so that the left and right sides of a women’s abdominal muscle (rectus abdominis) usually separates a few centimeters. This gap needs to reduce and heal before you can perform strenuous abdominal exercise. You must ‘mind the gap’ before you start those crunches or you’ll risk abdominal and spinal injury.
The muscles to focus on to rehabilitate your core and achieve the best tone and shape of your torso are the transverse abdominis and pelvic floor muscles. These are your deep inner unit abs. They are responsible for stabilizing the spine, supporting your organs and structure as well as enable the other abdominal muscles to work properly.
The pelvic floor muscles support your uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum. Kegels (or pelvic floor exercises) can help you avoid embarrassing accidents, like bladder leakage and passing gas by accident after delivery. They can also improve your sex life.
The pelvic floor muscles are the muscles you used to start and stop peeing. Squeeze these muscles as if you were trying to stop urinating. You should feel the muscles inside your vagina “lift.” You just did one Kegel. Relax the muscle and do it again. Begin slowly… Try squeezing your pelvic floor muscles for 3 seconds, then release for 3 seconds. Do this 10 times in a row. That’s one set. If you can’t do 10, do as many as you can and build up over time. Try to work up to two or three sets of 10 Kegels two to three times a day.
The transverse abdominis (TVA) is the deepest of the abdominal muscles. The TVA has a corset like effect within the body, narrowing and flattening the abdomen. Its primary function is to stabilise the lumbar spine and pelvis before any movement of the limbs happen. The TVA is activated by pulling the belly button inward towards the spine; called abdominal hollowing.
Abdominal hollowing is probably easiest when in an all fours position, kneeling on your hands and knees. Completely relax your abdomen, then pull your belly button up and in towards the spine, “hollowing the stomach”, without changing the position of your black and pelvis. As with the pelvic floor exercises start with holding for 3 seconds and then gradually build upon this time, reps and sets. Other positions in which to practice this exercise include sitting, lying on your back with your arms down by your hips and lying on your stomach with your arms overhead.
It is essential to rebuild your inner unit strength before doing any crunches or other abdominal exercises. These muscles are crucial for good function and without them you are susceptible to injury.
Continue reading – Part 3 of Get Back into Shape After Pregnancy – for the final 3 tips we find essential to quickly regaining shape, function and confidence in your body.
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