Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Starting from the Inside Out

The key to getting back into shape quickly is to workout steadily and focus on building up your strength gradually. Recognize that it may take as much time for your body to recover from pregnancy as it did to go through pregnancy. Be patient and start from the inside out. Once you feel that you have enough energy and strength to resume exercise, focusing your initial efforts on your deep core muscles is an excellent place to start. 

Developing core strength will help you meet the new demands of motherhood with greater ease and comfort. Start with your Pelvic Floor. Working these muscles early on will aid in the healing process and the regaining of any loss of control or sensation in the area. A strengthened pelvic floor also plays a role in eventually regaining a flat tummy.

Try the following exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor:

The Emergency Stop
  • Lift the whole of the pelvic floor, tightening it all quickly as if in an emergency.  Hold for 5 seconds while continuing to breath, then release
  • Repeat exercise 5-6 times
Figure Eight
  • Begin by tightening the front of the pelvic floor (urethra) and hold
  • Add to this by tightening the back of the pelvic floor (muscles around the anus) and hold
  • Then, add a vaginal lift and hold so that the whole pelvic floor is engaged
  • Slowly release and repeat 5-6 times
Flutter Kegels
  • Quickly tighten and release pelvic floor 10 times
  • Repeat 5-6 times

Once you feel confident that you can activate your Pelvic Floor, it is time to add in exercises to strengthen the Transversus Abdominis.  The Transversus Abdominis is a deep abdominal muscle that when strong is responsible for core strength and stability as well as a flat tummy.  The Pelvic Floor and Transversus Abdominis must work in unison in order for you to see and feel maximal results. 

Here are some exercises that primarily target the Transversus Abdominis and Pelvic Floor:

Vaginal lifts & belly button to spine
  • Seated or lying down, lift vaginal muscles then draw belly button to spine on the exhale
Heel Drags
  • Lying down with legs bent and heels on floor, lift vaginal muscles and slowly drag heel away from body and back.
  • Repeat on other leg
  • Try 10-12 each leg
Leg Openers
  • Lying down with bent legs up, knees over hips, lift vaginal muscles and slowly open and close bent leg to the side
  • Alternate legs
  • Try 10-12 each leg
V-sits (try after comfortable with the above exercises)*
  • Seated with bent knees and feet on floor, lift vaginal muscles and slowly lower back into a “V” and hold for 10 seconds plus
  • Ensure back is straight and chin is up

*V-sits are not suitable if you have an abdominal separation.  Read more about this here.

Once you can complete these exercises most days of the week while maintaining a vaginal lift throughout, you can begin to add additional exercises that focus on the outer abdominal muscles.  

Remember, progression is the key to success in regaining your shape and strength.  Be patient and focus your initial efforts on working your inside or deep core muscles, so that you have the strength and stability to effectively work your entire core and ultimately see and feel positive results.

Finding it difficult to stay disciplined with your pelvic floor exercises on your own? Feeling like you need more instruction and cues? You're in luck...there's an app for that! Download the Fit 4 Two-approved Pelvic Floor Trainer App and enjoy both visual and audio routines at your fingertips. 

Ready to try a Fit 4 Two class? Contact your local Fit 4 Two Instructor for a pass to try a FREE class.

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