Your body has done some amazing things over the past few months, more than anything, it has created and give birth to a tiny human! As your baby grew, your body cleverly accommodated it but for many, even most women, the abdominal muscles will have accepted some degree of separation to allow for your growing bump. This is totally normal and with the right approach and the right exercises, these muscles will find their way back together.
Let’s start with breathing! For a lot of post natal mums, the art of breathing and engaging the core muscles correctly requires some reminding and retraining. It is hugely important to restore good breathing techniques in order to form a foundation for which to grow on. There are a number of disciplines of exercise that rely on correct and proper breathing techniques and this is by no means just about fueling the body with oxygen, it is actually to make sure that you can properly connect with the core muscles as day to day movement relies on correct core engagement. By starting with a good breathing technique, you will lay the foundations for a stronger core.
How to Breathe Correctly
- Start by lying on your back with one hand on your tummy and the other hand on the side of your ribcage
- Breathe deeply into your tummy and into the side of the ribcage feeling your tummy rise and your ribcage expand
- As you breathe out, you should feel your tummy relax
Once you have mastered this and you are sure you are activating your pelvic floor muscles you can move onto movement based exercises below.
Hip Bridges: Aim to do 2 sets of 12 reps
- Lying on your back bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor
- Raise the hips off the floor squeezing your glutes (bum) and activating your pelvic floor muscles
- Hold at the top for a few seconds then relax back down to neutral position
Squats: Aim to do 2 sets of 12 reps
- Start with your feet hip width apart
- Breathe in as you sit back into the squat as if to sit onto a chair
- Keep a neutral back throughout with weight evenly distributed through your heels
- Squeeze your bum to stand back upright to starting position
Half Press Ups: Aim to do 2 sets of 8 reps
- Start on your knees with your hands under your shoulders
- Knees, hips and shoulders should all be aligned
- Breathe in as you bend your elbows wide and lower the chest to the floor
- Keep your head aligned with your spine
- Breathe out as you push yourself back to the starting position
Remember only even do as much as you feel you can do, listen to your body and ease into it.
Checking your tummy gap (Diastasis Recti): Understanding your own tummy gap, core and pelvic floor activation levels is key to fully restoring your postpartum strength and fitness. Remember that everyone is unique and everyone’s starting point is personal. For more physiotherapist led core series including Diastasis check and scar massage check out CariFit.