3. Deep Core Strength (hello transverse abs!)

transverse abs

Your transverse abs are responsible for connecting and stabilizing your pelvis and spine.  They act as a girdle, pulling your core together, tightening and flattening your abdominal wall.   Weakness can result in lower back pain, especially in postpartum bodies.  While we want to strengthen the transverse abs, we don’t want to rely only on exercises like plank or other forward flexing core exercises, since they tighten the already-tight chest, shoulders and hip flexors.  These exercises will keep your spine in a neutral alignment, and will help you develop your deep core in relation to your pelvic floor, without tightening your front body or placing stress on your lower back.  Hooray!  If you are unsure about how to engage your pelvic floor, read the first two posts on the “mummy tummy” and the “kegels and the pelvic floor.”  Then join us!

These deep core strengtheners are suitable for women with separation, as long as you’ve had your 6 or 8 week checkup, AND as long as you can complete them WITHOUT letting your abs bulge/letting the deep core muscles relax during the exercise.  Start with the first exercise listed, when you can do 20 repetitions each side move on to the next one and include it in your routine.

Leg Slides Part 1
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet on the floor.  Engage your pelvic floor,and pull your deep core (diamond) in toward your spine.  Keeping your spine neutral and your core engaged, slide one heel out along the floor until the knee is straight, and then slide it back in.  Remember you need to keep your diamond pulled in throughout the exercise, without flattening the lower back to the floor.  When you can do 20 repetitions in a row on each leg, move to part 2.

Leg Slides Part 2
Same exercise as part 1, and the same rules about alignment and core engagement apply.  This time, however, the leg that is moving hovers above the ground the whole time.  When you can do 20 repetitions in a row on each leg without letting your core relax or bulge, move on to the next exercise.

Inner Thigh Leg Lifts
Lie on your back, both knees bent and soles of the feet on the floor.  Engage your deep core and pelvic floor, and then straighten one leg out along the ground.  Rotate it out, so the inner thigh faces the ceiling and your toes point away from you.  As you exhale, engage your pelvic floor and pull your deep core muscles in toward your spine.  Without tilting your pelvis (both hips should remain even), raise the straight leg up until your knees are parallel, and then slowly lower it down.  You should feel your inner thigh and lower core working.  Work up to repeating this 20 times each leg, and when you can do that, move on to the next exercise.

Heel Drop Toe Touches
Lie on your back with your legs up in the air, knees bent.  Engage your deep core, but maintain a neutral spine and pelvis.  Slowly lower one leg down, maintaining a 90˚ angle, until your toes touch the ground, and then moving from your deep core muscles, raise the leg back to the start position and switch sides.  Do not tense your shoulders or push through the arms.  Repeat 10-15 times each leg.