4 Exercises to Strengthen Your Core After Pregnancy

Nov 22 2017     /     , , ,

Written by: Heather Lomax

Core strength is essential to feeling healthy and avoiding chronic sources of pain. Without it, a person’s spine and posture suffer; these sorts of problems can take years to correct as well.

If you’re having a baby, the muscles of your midsection will stretch and weaken to allow the baby to develop. But once the pregnancy’s over, this stretch doesn’t just correct itself; the muscles are shot from months of abuse. And chances are that you’ll feel it in your lower back when you hold your newborn.

But with a bit of hard work, you can build those muscles back and feel fit, strong, and ready to play with your baby.

The Problem: Damage is not simply confined to your mid-section, but the ligaments that connect to your pelvis also become strained, resulting in unilateral weakness in your body. One side of your lower back will hurt, and then the other knee. That lack of stability causes excessive stress to one area that’s supposed to be spread evenly.

How you fix it:

Walking

Right after your pregnancy, you’re not going to be in any position to lift heavily – especially if you’re suffering from pelvic stability issues. But one of the best things you can do is to simply walk.

Try to walk a healthy distance each day and focus on breathing through your diaphragm. Flex your core muscles as you exhale, and get that region accustomed to regular contraction again. Also, be aware of your posture – use your lower abdominals to stabilize your pelvis underneath you. This allows you a safe starting point towards rebuilding core strength that’s also functional in the meantime.

Pelvic Tilt and Bridge

These are a couple of strength-training exercises you can begin fairly soon after you’ve had your baby. If you’ve had a natural birth, you’ll be able to begin the gentle pelvic tilt exercise as soon as a week after delivery. The bridge pose will require a little more recovery time – at least six weeks.

With the Tilt, lie on your back with a pillow wedged under your hips and bend your knees with your feet flat and arms at your sides. Take a deep breath in, and then exhale, drawing your abs in and tucking your pelvis down. After a few weeks of this, you’ll notice an increase in abdominal strength and stamina.

The Bridge is similar, except you’ll tilt your pelvis up to the ceiling and raise your hips into a bridge pose with your feet hip-width apart. This will help to strengthen the muscles in your buttocks and lower back.

Planks

Once you’ve built up a small amount of strength, a neutral contraction like planks are a great second step. These can be done by either leaning on a couch or a medicine ball for an easy variation before slowly moving towards a flat plank on the floor.

Try to stabilize your shoulders and core while flexing your ribcage and pelvis to try to meet in the middle. Planks are easily adaptable to your current strength level because you can hold one for as long as you wish.

Leg Extensions

These exercises are best saved for a few months post-partum, as they’ll require the greatest amount of muscle activation. Single leg extensions will have you lying on your back while hovering one leg straight up and the other bent and stationary. Start out with five repetitions, and with every workout, build to 20+ on each side.

Once you’ve mastered this move, you can begin the advanced level. Here, you will lie flat on your back, with one knee raised and bent while the other leg is extended straight out. This will require a bit more core strength, as you’ll be holding up both legs without any other support, so listen to your body, and only move forward when you’re ready.

Diastasis recti is a common condition, but despite this fact, it can be a huge detriment to a woman’s self-esteem. And in today’s culture, the last thing a busy mom needs is another reason to feel anxious about her appearance. With a few simple workouts, you can get back to your pre-pregnancy body without worrying about how to fit it into your schedule.

Heather Lomax is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for Orangetheory Fitness. She writes for a variety of health blogs, and in her spare time, takes special interest in researching methods for achieving optimal fitness goals.

 

 

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