Tips on exercise during and after pregnancy.
Pre/post pregnancy video exercise tips.
I know I know, you think I'm being irresponsible; telling the average woman that they can recover from a baby like an Olympic Gold Medalist. But hear me out. Recovery should not be about a specific time frame, specific weightloss, certain fitness level or getting those six pack abs. It doesn't matter if you have stretch marks, weigh a 100 or 250 lbs. I'm not even saying you need to spend hours and hours exercising every day.
It's the muscles that are most affected by pregnancy and childbirth (pelvic floor, transverse abdominals and diaphragm). These along with the outer core muscles have been stretched out for almost 9 months. It should be the FIRST STEP in returning to exercise and daily activities. It is going to take some specific work to regain that activation/strength and stability and planks while they are a great exercise just do not address the inner core properly if the inner core isn't strong or activating correctly in the first place. It's also not enough to just do basic transverse ab exercises either. Postnatal core work needs to be progressive and work out to the outer core as well for total core reconditioning. This, along with my own issues postpartum, is what drove me to create the ReCORE progression.
Assessing Ab Sets (relaxing/engaging core with pelvic floor, neutral spine, no rib flaring etc..)
My initial consult included assessment questions and screening for possible postpartum red flags that may indicate the client is not ready to start (remember..everyone recovers at different rates). I do recommend women see a pelvic floor therapist postpartum; there can be underlying issues/injuries (that do not get checked for by an OBGYN/midwife) that I also can’t check. If the client has trouble getting the basic Inner Core exercises down or has certain pain/issues, I will recommend they pause ReCORE program until they have visited with a pelvic floor PT.
Next, I measured for Diastasis Recti. She was basically a 1 (closed) - this is really, really rare one month postpartum; she did not even have minimal ab separation, so there was actually no need for the Post Natal FITsplint. I assessed inner core activation/coordination when relaxing/engaging the inner core (transverse abs, diaphragm with pelvic floor ) and assessed her core stability and strength. This helps me get a good idea where to start and how to progress her along. Gwen posted a few of the exercises along the way on her Instagram account @gwenjorgensen.
Wall Sit with Ab Sets
At the beginning of ReCORE, I have clients do the Drop Test. Clients should understand how to coordinate and control the inner core/intrabdominal pressure first though; so sometimes waiting till Week 2 to do the test is needed if it takes them a bit to learn Ab Sets. This is not the same as a Straight Leg Raise Test (too much stress on back/core to start lifting from bottom position...please don't...that's another post topic) Starting with the legs in the up position and engaging the core/pelvic floor; the client only lowers the legs as far as they can go before the back starts to arch out of neutral position or belly starts to bulge. If the back starts to arch, they stop. If the belly starts to bulge, they stop. This gives me a good idea how strong and coordinated their inner core is. They then repeat this test at the end of the 6 weeks of ReCORE and see how much they improve.
ReCORE Drop Test (before)
*Please note that the Drop Test is only one test and not always an overall view of how strong a core is. Several other tests can be done to get a better picture of overall core stability, function and strength.
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