Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Get your body back

After you have tested your abdominal muscles for diastasis recti, you can start working on exercises to close the gap.  These exercises will help you start closing the abdominal muscles that separated during pregnancy.  To start, repeat this circuit 3x a week.  You will not need a fancy gym to do it, and the only equipment I used was an elastic exercise band.  But if you don't have one you can get creative and use any elastic material around the house, for example the leg of a pantyhose or tights.

These are gentle exercises that you can do and work your way up to a stronger core.  Please get clearance from your doctor if you are within the 6 or 8 weeks postpartum.

Pelvic Tilts 
Starting position
Lie flat on your back shoulder blades squared, touching the mat. Knees are bent and heels close to your bottom (you should be able to almost touch your heels with the tip of your fingers with your arms by your side). Abdominal muscles are relaxed - inflate your belly on the inhale.

Pelvic tilt
With very tiny movements, lift your pelvis slightly, just about 1 inch off the floor.  This is not a bridge, you are just tilting your pelvis towards your chin as you exhale and contract your abdominal muscles.  Start with 20 reps, increase the number of reps as it starts getting easier


Lateral leg lift

Starting position
Start by standing on your knees hip width apart.

Leg lift
As you inhale lean towards the right until your hand touches the floor.  Then lift the left leg up as you exhale and concentrate on drawing the belly button towards your spine. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.  Lift you hand out for added balance challenge.

You can also place a hand on your abdomen to feel the movement of your belly muscles.  Sometimes that helps you engage the proper muscles.



Elastic band squeeze

Starting position
Start by standing on your knees at hip width apart. Hold the elastic band (or the leg of stretchy tights)  with arms straight shoulder width apart at about shoulder height.


Stretch your arms out to your side holding them straight as you exhale drawing your belly button in towards your spine.  As you inhale, return arms to the initial position in front of you. Repeat this 10 times. 



Side dip and raise

Starting position
You can get on this position from standing on your knees and leaning towards one side and using your arm to support you (kinda like the lateral leg raise above).  Your hips should be raised at a neutral position (that is, your torso forms a straight line with your legs) with your support leg bent and the top leg straight.  Think of a side plank but one leg folded to support you.


 Lower your hips towards the mat (floor) as you inhale. The side of your leg will touch the floor, but not your hip. 


Then raise your hips as you exhale concentrating on squeezing your side that is facing the floor.  Think of an exaggerated movement here.  Really lift those hips up. Repeat 10 times. The top hand can be placed on the belly for feedback or it can be extended straight up as if reaching for the sky.


These are simple moves for you to start correcting the muscles weakness.  You can do these exercises as kids play in the same room or watching TV.  They are easy to do and don't require much as you use mostly your body for resistance (except the one with the band).

Some general rules to keep in mind.  Breathing is important to help you with the movement.  You will squeeze the muscle on an exhale (you are aiding the air out with your muscles) and you relax on an inhale (your belly expands as it if you were feeling it with air).


As you make progress on strengthening your abs, you will notice these start getting easier.  Then it is time to add more moves and increase the level of difficulty. 










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