Many women often wonder whether their bodies will ever be what it was before they gave birth to their little bundle of joy. We’re here to tell you that it can. Pregnancy can take a toll on a women’s body. Everything from pelvic and core issues, to general muscle degeneration from lack of normal movement, pregnant women experience some, or all of these issues at some point in their pregnancy.

Around two thirds of women suffer from a post-pregnancy condition known as “diastasis recti”, and in short, is a separation of muscle down the center of your abdomen.

“Diastasis recti” cannot be corrected by simple crunches or sit-ups, and in fact, these exercises can exacerbate the condition. A consultation with a trained physical therapist is highly recommended to combat this condition for your unique body type. Before hitting the weights, you need to start slow and get back to the basics. These physical therapist-recommended exercises will get you started on your way back to the body you want.

Deep Belly Breathing

Belly Breathing 2This very simple core exercise is a great starting point to re-engage those injured abdomen muscles. Either sitting upright or lying flat on your back with your knees bent up and feet flat, simply, and deliberately breathe in as deeply as possible and out completely, taking notice of your stomach muscles contracting and expanding. When you feel more comfortable, breathe in and hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds to get even more out of the exercise. Wait a few seconds and repeat. This will strengthen your pelvic floor, and give you subtle core strength to move on to more challenging exercises.

Exercise Ball Leg Lifts

Exercise BallIn another core exercise, using an exercise ball, sit on the ball with your back straight and legs at a 90 degree angle. Gently squeezing your abdomen and pelvic area, slowly lift one leg as straight as possible and hold for 5 seconds, remembering to breathe. Slowly bring your leg back to the original position, relaxing your stomach muscles, and repeat with the other leg. Repeat this movement 10 times with each leg.

Back Strengthening Movements

Mothers often suffer from poor posture, mostly due to breastfeeding and holding their baby. Here are some simple, low-impact movements that will help reset your upper back and general posture.

  1. Sitting on a chair or exercise ball as straight as possible, with your arms crossed in front of your chest, or with your fingers linked behind your neck, twist slowly, and fully, to the left and right. Repeat this movement 10 times to each side. This may be a little uncomfortable at first, but you should feel a nice stretch in your middle and upper back muscles.
  2. Stand in a doorway with your shoulders pulled back, put your hands on each side of the doorway near shoulder level, and lean forward to stretch your pectoral area. This movement will help to strengthen your upper back. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and repeat up to 10 times.

The Pelvic Tilt

Pelvic TiltThis exercise is low impact, and feels great on the lower back and stomach area. If you are post-partum, remember to ease into this exercise with slow, gentle movements.

First, lay flat on your back with your knees up and feet flat on the ground. (For a slightly advanced movement, put your feet on an exercise ball with your legs at a relaxed 90 degree angle.) Slowly lift your midsection and pelvic area up to the point where from you shoulders to your knees is at a straight, nearly 45 degree angle from the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly come back to a flat, relaxed position. Again, repeat 10 times. You’ll feel this movement in your back, stomach, and gluteus areas.

The Plank

Plank exercises can be a little more strenuous than the previous movements, but are great core strengthening exercises. Planks can be done in several different varieties based on your comfort level.

  1. The Dolphin Plank is probably the lowest impact movement of the plank exercise family, and consists of the use of an exercise ball. Place your forearms on the ball, hands together for balance, and feet out behind you so from your shoulders to your feet are a straight line. Hold for at least 30 seconds and relax. Again, repeat several times at your desired comfort level.
  2. The Side Plank is more of an advanced movement, and consists of placing one forearm, or hand on the ground and swing your other arm up straight in the air so your body is straight from shoulders to feet and your bodies weight is rested on the side of one foot and your forearm or hand. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. This will help strengthen those often-neglected oblique abdomen muscles.

Because every woman’s body is different after child birth, please consult your physician or physical therapist before engaging in any physical activity.

 

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