Sunday, August 31, 2014

3 Exercises for Birth...and All the Time! And for everyone else~

In summary (to the busy ones who reads highlights :P):

  1. Squats
  2. Transverse Abdominis aka inner core muscle (IMPORTANT FOR EVERYONE including Men!)
  3. Side Plank
They each have a valid reason and let me explain further.

Courtesy of the lovely fit2be, Nicole Crawford and Mummy Trainer. They all have at least 10 years of experience in the fitness industry plus experimenting their bodies too. I'm just about to embark the journey!


Re capping from my previous post on kegel vs no kegel, below is a more in depth description about the importance of squats.

In Nicole's post:

"Suggested tattoo for trainers, therapists, and athletes: Tighter does not equal stronger. It’s just tighter.” - Katy Bowman

Developing an (eventual) deep squatting habit (picture going to the bathroom while camping) to create the posterior pull on the sacrum and balance the work of the pelvic floor.

So how do you do them correctly? Here are a few tips from Katy:

  • Joint Positioning:  “Because the squat we are after is really a gluteal-using one, whole-body joint positioning is essential. To get a squat to move from the front of the body (think all quads) to the back (think allglutes) is by using SHIN position. The more vertical the shin (that’s the knee joint stacked over the ankle joint) and the more untucked the pelvis, the more glutes you’ll use. The more the knees are in front of the ankle and the more tucked the pelvis, the less glutes you’ll use.”

  • Depth of the Squat: “How far you go down will be based on how well you can keep the shin and the pelvis where you want them. Most people who have not squatted to use the bathroom throughout a lifetime will find the range of motion of their 'glute squat' to be fairly small. Which is fine. It will improve over time, especially if you’re working on changing the habits of where you hold your pelvis throughout the day.”

  • Length: “The amount of time you spend in a squat also depends. The glute action is primarily used on the way up - however lingering in a squat, especially if you can kind of relax, helps the muscles and involved joints change their tension patterns. Seriously. Doing a potty-squat gives you a more natural, real-world relationship with your squat.”

“…all women are not accustomed to being delivered in the same posture; some will be on their Knees, as many in the Country Villages; others standing upright leaning with the Elbows on a Pillow on the Table…but the best and surest is to be delivered in their bed, to shun the inconvenience and trouble of being carried thither afterwards…” - Francois Mauriceau

No, pregnancy does not cause PFD. Can I say that again? NO, PREGNANCY DOES NOT CAUSE PFD. How do I know? Because research shows that the category of ailments that fall into PFD occur equally in women who have and who have not delivered babies. There are also women who have had 10 or 12 kids who have no pelvic floor issues. And, P.S., Pelvic Floor Disorder in men is also extremely prevalent and on the rise. So dudes, you gotta read this info as well. Read it, and then talk about it with other dudes. While you’re squatting, of course.

Transverse Abdominis aka inner core

This is most important and it applies to pre and post pregnancy plus everyone who wants to get fit without injuries. Including men.
Take a deep breath and let your belly expand with air. Now exhale and pull your navel inward toward your spine. This “vacuum” or “sucking in” motion utilizes your corset muscle, formally known as your transverse abdominus (TVA). During pregnancy, your TVA gets very stretched out, as do the rest of your ab muscles, causing a natural diastasis recti (split in your six-pack). Your diastasis will close MUCH faster if you find your transverse, work it, connect to it, use it during labor, and start using it again right after birth. Tightening your transverse is more important than crunches and planks, because this is yourflattening muscle that assists the uterus in pushing during labor.
Your TVA is also the muscle you want to focus on while binding your belly after birth! Many moms will see their pooch after baby comes and “feel fat” and immediately think crunches and/or planks are the answer. That is so far from the truth, and if you have a trainer who thinks that a postnatal body should do crunches or planks, sack ‘em because they aren’t up the current research! Before and after birth, your TVA is your best friend for getting your hot body back! Check out these articles on avoiding crunches and the role of your transverse abdominis.
  • This article by the Colic Calm Journal has some great info about TVA, crunches and diastasis, but I disagree with not laughing during pregnancy! Also, she talks about how front carriers make diastasis worse (my Ergo helped mine!)
  • This is a research abstract that studied “The Effects of an Exercise Program on Diastasis Recti Abdominis in Pregnant Women” as published ithe Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy Volume 29, No 1 Spring, 2005 
  • The MuTu system in the UK has some amazing info on this condition as well! She has a stellar 12-week program for moms who are ready to heal their diastasis and start implementing fitness as well!

Side plank / bridge

Okay, this is one of my favorite exercises of all time. I was able to do it clear to the end of both of my pregnancies, and it’s a great alternative to the plank or crunches. It won’t make your diastasis worse, and it works your triceps, shoulders, medial glutes, obliques and more muscles than my fingers can type right now! What’s more, the side bridge has so many modifications that you’ll never get bored. We feature many side bridge (sometimes called the side plank) styles and alternatives all over in our Maternity Mix workouts! Our new mama members just love them! Do them on your elbow and knees, or on your elbow and feet, or on your hand and knees, or on your hand and feet, or add side leg motions, or hold a dumbbell and …. you see? Who needs crunches????

Bethany having fun doing side planks with Chris’ boys on the set of “Robot Yoga” from our Fit2B Kids section!
You have the strength to carry a child on the inside, and you’ll have the strength to carry that child on the outside if you keep your body AND your mind strong. Your body was CREATED to give birth, to bring forth life, to nurture life. You’ll know what to do in each moment of birth and beyond, but will you listen to yourself?


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