Building a solid foundation for exercise after having a baby

Are you looking to exercise after having a baby? Are you wondering why your tummy still looks a little pregnant? Then this blog is for you.

But first a little about your tummy muscles. Diastasis Recti is the distancing or weakening of the 2 sides of the rectus abdominis (commonly known as the 6-pack muscles). Almost 100% of women will have this in pregnancy. This is due to increased loads being carried and changes in alignment. You may have noticed that your tummy ‘domes; when you sit up or use your abs in exercise or see. Or maybe you feel a gap when doing an everyday activity  – this is a DR. Or, as is the case for many women, you may not even know!

The image (from Jenny Burrell’s wonderful Advanced Post Natal course material) shows this gap. The tissue in the weakened midline will often feel quite weak and ‘squishy’

For many women, the ‘still pregnant’ look months and even years after giving birth can be soul destroying. It can be frustrating given all the ab work you do. In addition to the way your tummy looks, you may be suffering from pelvic floor issues and have a weak core. Many women accept these issues as part and parcel of pregnancy and childbirth but that needn’t be the case.

Here’s what you can do:

– Assess the size of the DR and the ability to create tension (and therefore stabilise) with a rec check. This can be done by a specially trained personal trainer such as myself 

– Connect the core. This means getting the core to work as a unit again through correct breathing techniques and pelvic floor activation. This allows the deep abdominals and the pelvic floor to connect and then work involuntarily when you need them to

– Once you have correct core function, use light resistance during exercise to build strength and stability

– Unlock tight,short muscles and strengthen weak, long muscles through release strategies, stretching and strength work. This will also help you to exercise in a pain free way and help with correct alignment of the body.

– For many women, pregnancy can leave them with the pelvis tilting, shoulders rounded and the head in a forward position so ensure proper alignment of the body – i love the 5 point alignment check – pelvis in neutral, helium balloons on the ears to lengthen the spine, shoulders rolled back, ribs over hips and a slight chin tuck

– Focus on the movements you do everyday – squat, lunge, pull, push, carry to build functional fitness and strength

I have been personal training post natal clients since 2013. I also run post natal exercise classes in Leamington Spa for new and not so new mums. See more on my classes page.  

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