Moms - are you working your core properly?
Core exercises are good for you and can help you get back in shape after having a baby — but are you including the foundation of your core in your training?
Ask the Expert
Kim Vopni, The Vagina Coach, President of Bellies Inc.
Core exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness program especially after having a baby. Most think of crunches and planks as the best core exercises but there is a key to working the core properly that is mistakenly overlooked – the pelvic floor.
The Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is the foundation of the core and works in synergy with the diaphragm, the transversus abdominis and the multifidus to help provide control and stability to the spine and pelvis, help with continence and help support the internal organs.
In pregnancy there is an ever-increasing load on your pelvic floor. There are also biomechanical changes that influence how you stand and move (posture) that can influence the alignment of that inner core unit. When the alignment is off, it can interfere with optimal function and send symptoms of pain or incontinence or pressure in the pelvis.
There is also the influence of hormones on the ligaments and connective tissue that support the pelvic floor and internal organs. The abdomen becomes stretched and the muscles move away from the midline (diastasis recti) which means the ability to tension and assist in core control can be hindered.
The act of giving birth vaginally or by caesarean also affects the inner core. The muscles of the inner core are put to the test and are often injured or in a less-than-optimal state after you give birth. They need time to heal and recover and need to be retrained before they are trained.
Too often the new mom seeks hard, intense exercise to feel strong again and she misses the step of core retraining. That inner unit needs to be working synergistically before adding on the more intense exercises like planks. Remember to retrain before you train.
Retraining the Core
The Core Breath is always my starting point in terms of retraining the core – it works all of the parts of the inner core and establishes or re-establishes the synergy you are looking for in your foundation.
Once you have mastered the core breath, you then add it into movement so you can work the core as it should be worked – with movement. You can turn almost any exercise into a core exercise by adding in the core breath. Check out a few of our faves from our Core Confidence Exercise Program.
Exercise on the Core Breath
The Bridge, Seated March on the Ball, and Lunges are all exercises that can be done with the core breath. These exercises are a great, functional way to get the inner unit firing and working together as a team!
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Kim offers an assessment to help get women started on the path to retraining their core. Use this assessment to find out if YOU should be doing Kegels and the three essential, but overlooked tricks you need to ensure success!