Simple short workout for all women and especially targeting new moms
Start after 6 weeks postpartum, or 10 weeks if you had a C-section. Always consult your doctor before starting with exercise.
NB you can and should start doing your pelvic floor exercises straight away – use feeding time as a reminder to just do them.
3 Part Breath – belly ribs and chest. See link for more. Exercising the lungs, diaphragm and intercostal muscles. Also helps to calm the nervous system if feeling sleep deprived or stressed.
– Basic: Engage on exhale and relax on inhale x 20, repeat other way Engage on inhale and exhale to relax x 20.
– 3 Floors: 1st floor (hammock of muscles from pubic bone to tail bone) 2nd floor (lifting action –internal muscles) 3rd floor (activating lower abdomen muscles too – imagine drawing pelvic floor to the navel) :- 1st floor exhale, 2nd floor exhale, 3rd floor exhale and inhale to relax one by one down the 3 floors. Repeat x 10.
– Repeat but this time hold at top for a count of two- exhale 3 floors. Hold at top inhale, exhale there still lifting, and inhale to slowly relax down the 3 floors. Over time build the length of time to hold at top.
Imagery: zip up tight jeans to engage pelvic floor, imagine wearing a corset wrapped around your waist keeping ribs flat and tummy in, reach arms down as if trying to tuck armpits into your jeans pockets- serratus anterior activation. Imagine a sand bag on top of your belly preventing ribs flaring or belly doming. Remember that at the end of an exhale you automatically engage TVA (transverse abdominals) therefore a strong full exhale is best to work core. Always move on exhale
– Lying on back pelvic tilts (not a lift just a tilt used to stabilize and warm up pelvis), 5 x anterior tilt (pubic bone draws in the direction of navel), 5 x posterior tilt (tilt pubic bone in direction of floor or heels). Be aware if you use your entire torso to tilt pelvis – over time you will gain strength and be able to separate each muscle group and just tilt pelvis with a strong core.
– Come to neutral & activate core. From there –
- Basic: leg slides. Exhale slide right heel away. Inhale draw back. NB it is not the distance of the slide but rather the stability of your core as you move leg away. Do left leg. And repeat each side 10 times.
- Intermediate: Exhale lift right leg to 90° bend, shin parallel to floor. Inhale at top exhale to lower. Left leg. Repeat each side x 10. Remember core activation- corset and sand bag etc.
- Advanced: Exhale lift right leg to 90° inhale there. Exhale lift left leg to meet. Inhale squeeze knees together. Either hold there and lower one at a time on exhale.
- Or exhale extend right leg and point toe as if tapping light switch on wall. Inhale knees together. Exhale left side. Inhale knees together. Repeat x 10. To lower exhale right leg down inhale there exhale lower left leg.
Bridge: Feet on floor hip distance apart. Knees bent. Press feet into floor. Reach fingers to heels to activate core. Same as above. Exhale slowly roll lifting tailbone and then one vertebrae at a time off mat. Inhale at top. Core strong, don’t flare ribs or push hips higher causing excess lumbar arch. Exhale to slowly lower articulating each vertebrae. Repeat x 5 or 10.
Spinal twist: straighten right leg. Draw left leg/ knee to chest and roll knee to right side. Look to ceiling. Hold for a few deep breaths. Relax belly and draw breath down to organs. Come back to centre and repeat other side.
Pelvic lift with heel or leg lift: Works bum and pelvic floor. Lying on back feet planted to floor. Core activated. Exhale lift hips. Inhale there. Exhale lift right heel, inhale lower. Exhale lift left heel inhale lower. Repeat up to 20 times. To take it further. Exhale lift right leg to 90° or straight up toes to ceiling. Inhale to lower. Exhale left leg and inhale to lower. Repeat x 10 on each side
Scissors with legs: Activate core support. Legs lift as if feet were standing on ceiling. Knees can be bent if hamstring tight. Bend right leg and exhale lower right heel to floor. Inhale draw back. Exhale left leg. Inhale back. If you want to progress and challenge: legs straight and focus on strength and stability of core as you move. Move smoothly with breath. Heel does not need to touch only go to where you feel your core being challenged.
Strong core: reclined crow to plank
Lying on back. Hands and feet up in air and pressing towards ceiling. Exhale draw knees to arm pits. Inhale there. Exhale keep hands pressing to ceiling and lengthen legs parallel to floor( or as best you can) (as if in plank but on your back) repeat x 10
Gentle inversion: Lying on back. Lift legs into air. Ankle circles in one direction x 10 then the other. Point toes and flex x 10 each. You can do this against a wall with a pillow under your hips and legs rested against wall. Up to 5 mins. So good for circulation and release of excess fluid.
Then rest in Savasana – if you can or if you have the time – Savasana if not sleeping it is a conscious resting pose. Training your body and mind to switch off. I understand finding the time to do the above exercise is hard with a new born but with little or no sleep even 5 mins of a resting pose will be of such benefit for you. If you find it hard to switch of you head. Use a visualisation of breathing a colour or light into each and every muscle, bone, organ and tissue starting at feet and working up or starting at head and make your way down. Thoughtless awareness – is a habit that needs to be create don’t give up if your head is not able to be quiet – train it, stick with it. Your relaxation is an exercise too treat it like core work. You hate it cuz it is hard but you know the hard work will pay off! ;0)