Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Importance of Core Strength: Before, During and After Pregnancy

Before you get pregnant is the best time to build your core strength (as seen in 1st photo).  But don't think it is too late if you are already pregnant (as seen in 2nd photo- 6 months pregnant).  I will show you how to do both.

If you have a strong core, you shouldn't have any back or hip problems during your pregnancy.  Your core muscles will be able to hold your growing baby without putting stress on your back or hips.  When your baby is born, the core muscles will help you carry your growing baby and toddler.  They will also help keep you from hurting your back when you have to lift that stroller, car seat and all the other stuff in and out of the car.

You can do all of these exercises before and after you are pregnant.  But only do the last two if you are pregnant.  When you are pregnant, you don't want to do anything where the muscles push directly against the baby. 

This first move is a Suitcase Crunch.  Laying on your back, cross your leg over, try to crunch your legs into your upper body.  So picture opening and closing a suitcase and your upper body is one side and your legs are the other.  Make sure you don't arch your lower back or pull on your neck.  Try to do 10 with one leg crossed then cross the other leg for 10.

This move is really good for your Transverse Abdominus (lower abs or internal girdle).  Lay on your back with your hands under your bottom and push your bellybutton into your spine.  Make a scissor motion with your legs for 20 flutters.
The Plank is a wonderful core strengthener.  When you do this exercise, you pull in your stomach and help place all your organs in the right place.  Very good to prevent and reverse incontinence.  Try to hold for 30 seconds at a time without letting your low back sway towards the ground.

This is a great move to do while you are pregnant .  It works your obliques (the muscles on your side).  Make sure your shoulder is over your elbow on the arm you are propping up on.  Stack your legs on top of each other.  Lift and lower your hips.  When you come back down to the ground don't rest your weight, just slightly touch your hip and then raise up again.  This is a very small motion.  Try to do 10-15 on each side.

All of this hard work will definitely pay off between not having those annoying back aches and no accidents when you sneeze : )  Most of all these muscles will help you do the most important job ever- push out those babies during labor!  Believe me I know- after 22 hours of labor and a 9 lbs. baby with her hand up- I NEEDED my core strength!


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