Monday, July 13, 2015

Add more exercises to your repertoire

It is always nice to have a variety of exercises that target the same area so you can work the muscles differently.  Switching things up will make sure your muscles don't get used to the same old exercises and will react to them in a positive way by tightening the muscles and closing the DR gap.

This series is a little bit more challenging but these exercises are still gentle yet effective.

Toe tap

Starting Position
Start by laying on your side legs straight stacked on top of each other.  Raise your torso with support of arms and place your elbow on the floor directly under your shoulder so your upper body is raised slightly.  Keep your spine straight. You can place a hand on your abdomen to feel the movement.

Toe tap front
On an inhale, bring your top leg forward and tap the tip of your toes on the floor in front of you.  Keep your bottom foot flexed. 

Toe tap back
On an exhale, bring your leg back past the neutral position and touch the tip of your toes back behind you.  Repeat 10 times each way.  Engage the abdominal muscles and pull your belly button in towards your spine.  Then flip around to work the other side so you are even.
Leg raise
Raise top leg first

Start by laying on your side legs straight stacked on top of each other. Place your hand under your head for support.  While you inhale, separate your feet by lifting the top leg up.

Then bottom leg follows

On an exhale, bring your bottom leg to meet the top one.  You can place your hand on your belly for feedback or on the mat in front of your belly for support.  Bring both feet down at the same time.  Repeat 10 times on this side, always bringing the top leg up first, then the bottom one follows. Then turn around and do the same to even out both sides.

Upper body raise

Starting position
Start by laying on your side legs straight stacked on top of each other.  Place the bottom hand on your top shoulder while your top hand goes on the mat by your bottom shoulder.  I know it can be confusing, but hopefully the picture will provide some clarification.  You basically just want to get your bottom arm out of the way, so you place it across your chest.  Inhale.

Upper body raise

Then on an exhale, push through the hand placed on the mat to raise your upper body off the floor a few inches. Go as high as you are comfortable.  You'll feel the top side working here.  Repeat 10 times and then turn around to do the other side.

As you can see this series is mostly laying on your side and working those side muscles deeply.  Always be aware of your breath and contract your abdomen on an exhale and relax it on the inhale.  Think that you are squeezing the air out when you exhale and filling it with air on the inhale.  

An after thought... 

Breathing is very important and when you coordinate your muscles with your breathing you can maximize the muscle work.  In fact, I often just engage my ab muscles while driving, blogging, or sitting around watching my kids (that is when I'm not doing kegels!).  At first I liked to feel my belly expanding and contracting so I would have my hand on my stomach to learn what I was doing.  Now it comes automatically  to me.  My mom once told me when I was a teenager that I should always keep my abs engaged and I would have a flat belly.  I am a big believer of that have always tried to follow it.  It sounds like I'm always squeezing something, doesn't it? Well, I try.

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