Ok, before you think that I am totally crazy for talking about exercise right after you had a baby, hear me out! I realize that you mamas are worn out, sleep deprived, and figuring out how to manage your new bundle of joy. But strengthening your core after pregnancy is important because it will allow you to care for your baby by picking them up, carrying them, and later on chasing after them. That's why I feel so passionately about working with women to strengthen their core after pregnancy because it sets them up for a healthy, active life so they don't have issues down the road. If you can carve out a few minutes to try this exercise, it will make a world of difference and strengthen your core after pregnancy.
Alittle anatomy lesson though first...
Your "core" consists of 4 different abdominal muscles - rectus abdominis (the 6-pack muscle), internal and external obliques, and my favorite, the transversus abdominis (TA for short). The TA muscle is the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles and arguably, the most important. It wraps around the torso horizontally similar to a corset and attaches onto the pelvis and spine. This muscle gives the spine support and stability and also works together with the pelvic floor to have a strong pelvic floor. It also tends to "shut down" during pregnancy because it gets stretched and has a hard time working properly.
After pregnancy, the muscles don't spontaneously go back to how they were before baby, especially when they shut down and stopped working much. It doesn't necessarily mean that the core muscles are weak but they need to be retrained to work properly. This exercise is coined the "TA March" (boring name I know...) and is all about control. If you think it's easy, my guess is that you aren't doing it entirely correct because it will challenge anyone and make you really focus on the muscles.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Flatten your back into the floor by pulling your belly button in towards your spine as if you are zipping up tight pants. You shouldn't be holding your breath at all during this exercise. It also sometimes helps to place your fingers on the bony part of the front of your hip bone so you can feel it better. Try to lift one leg off the ground a few inches, pause then lower back down. The most important thing is that you don't want the back to arch up or your hips to shift or lift up at all. Alternate legs for 10 reps.
By doing this daily, you will be on your way to a stronger core in no time! If you've recently had a baby, it's really important that you visit a Physical Therapist to have an assessment done for your core and pelvic floor muscles because the body has gone through a significant trauma (yes, C-sections are trauma also for those that don't think so...). This way you can have a personalized plan that will address all of your impairments and get you feeling better quickly. Contact us to take advantage of our FREE 30 minute consultation to discuss this further.