Your body has a lot going on after pregnancy. A weak core and pelvic floor creates a whole host of compensations in other parts of the body…weak glutes, tight hips, and a tight back, to name a few. When the core starts working it allows the back and hip muscles to stop working so hard. Getting the breath working begins to rehabilitate the body by bringing proper balance to the muscles!! The answer to the question where do I start? Start with the breath. Restoring the natural breath patterns brings the core and pelvic floor back online.
I know this is not always what you want to hear. You want to jump back into high intensity stuff. But if you skip over the breathing and move into high intensity stuff before you’ve retrained you are building on a non-existent foundation.
If the breathing isn’t working properly, the core isn’t working properly. And doing activities without core support is a recipe for disaster. It is worth spending a few weeks on the breathing so you can spend YEARS doing the other activities you love with a healthy core. On the plus side breathing can be worked on straight after birth and no need to wait until you get your 6-8-week GP postnatal check-up.
Breathing: what we should aim for and understanding the correct technique.
Expansion- Inhale (in breath) – Diaphragm descends, Pelvic Floor relaxes, rib-cage expands, abdominal wall relaxes and expands. The Core is being LOADED!
Compression-Exhale (out breath) – Diaphragm ascends, Pelvic Floor tensions, rib-cage contracts, abdominal wall tensions, lumbar and thoracic muscles and other soft tissue contracts/tensions to support. The core is being UN-LOADED! This is the phase at which we do the effort of exercises.
Now that we know what we should be feeling start with some simple breathing exercises. Start in a standing position and roll shoulders back and in correct postural alignment place your hands on your ribs and inhale. The ribs should expand and on exhale they should go back down and in, think of the costal sea line. The seas rising and falls (ebb and flow) on the shore line (hence coastal breath).
If you extend your exhale (about 5-8 count) then you should feel your abdominals tighten and pelvic floor lift and tighten. If you cannot feel this try another position. Siting tall, shoulders back, feet place hip distance, straight back and try the breath again or try lying down. Which ever works. If you are still having no luck try squeezing a cushion/ball between your thighs which helps with the connection of the pelvic floor.
Once you have nailed the breathing you can add in basic exercises and link these to correct breathing. Remember always exhale on the effort of any exercises. Blow and Go is the little anagram I like to use.