When I look at the construction of the body’s core, I marvel at the structure of the four abdominal muscles that make up this wonderful muscular corset; transversus abdominis, internal oblique, external oblique and rectus abdominis.
The ‘fab four’ are very closely linked via connective tissue and rarely work alone. So if one is firing and no another, this can cause problems for your body.
Doing core exercises will train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to all work in harmony. This will lead to better balance and stability, whether carrying your unborn child in your belly or your child on your hip.
There are many reasons for strengthening the core during pregnancy and after:
Back and beyond
Did you know that the core is not only confined to the abdominal area? Your abs actually extend to your back.
As baby starts to grow, your body will be calling upon your back for support and balance. A hormone called Relaxin (as well as other hormones released during pregnancy) will loosen your joints and ligaments around the spine, and can cause what we in the profession call Lordosis. This is an exaggerated inward spinal curve of the lower back. So having a strong spine, coupled with strong back muscles, will ensure you have good posture, even as your belly grows. Plus the extra back strength will come in handy after baby arrives with all the extra carrying around – not just of little one!
Keeping it together
Pregnancy can contribute to diastasis recti (separation of muscles along the midline of the abdomen) due to the onslaught of the new hormones. If this occurs this will cause the pelvic wall to tilt, which means it no longer supports the spine, eventually leading to back pain. Therefore, a strong back during pregnancy is VITAL.
Reduce the labour of labour
Having a strong core foundation can help labour in a variety of ways.
You will be more flexible and have better joint mobility, which will allow you to use a variety of birthing positions, getting into them with ease. Also your pelvic floor muscles will thank you. As your baby drops lower during the latter part of your pregnancy, having control over your pelvic floor will making breathing out your baby easier during delivery. (I prefer the term ‘breathing out’ to ‘pushing out,’ as it has a gentler connotation coming from hypnobirthing).
Recover faster after birth
I know all of you have probably heard that when you are in better shape going into pregnancy, it will be so much easier to regain fitness afterwards. Well, the same applies during your pregnancy. It makes sense that if your muscles are strong to begin with, you will have an easier time recovering after birth and in returning to that pre-pregnancy body. I know this to be 100% true because I have done it not once but twice!
So why do many Mums neglect their core workout – simple, FEAR. Fear that they will hurt their baby and also because, unlike when you weren’t pregnant, it’s hard to see results since you won’t necessarily notice toning like you once did. However, with safe exercises you will feel better, stronger and more stable during pregnancy and after birth get back into shape quickly and healthily.
Having a great core foundation, will lead to great posture… see where I am going with this?
Next time I will letting you know the important benefits of training and looking after your Pelvic Floor.
Happy Body, Happy Core, Happy Mum!