Published on February 20, 2014
Losing Weight After Baby? Fitness And Exercise After Childbirth by Kelly McBride
For women that just had a baby and wondering about what kinds of exercise after childbirth to do, there are certain precautions to take especially if you have a Diastisis recti which are separations of the recti muscles, The abdominal muscles that normally run parallel lengthwise must expand and stretch away from your midline to allow more space for your growing baby. This is not necessarily due to weak stomach muscles.
Many factors can be in play. If you have a separation of the abdominal muscles (diastisis recti) of more than three fingers width, or if you had a C-section, wait at least six weeks before beginning flexion exercises (upper ab curls, sit-up,etc). Even so, no matter how long it takes wait until the gap has closed before doing flexion exercises. Give your body time to heal and don't rush into fitness after childbirth. Why wait? The action of flexing the trunk using the recti muscles can open the split further - like a zipper! After pregnancy, the external abs (otherwise known as the six pack) can easily overpower the deeper Transverse abdominal (TA) muscles (your body's internal "girdle"). When you contract and compress the transverse abdominals, it will help flatten your belly.
If you do a flexion exercise (like a crunch) without enough transverse ab strength though contraction, then your belly will balloon outward, which is exactly what you dont want to happen. This bulging of the abdominal wall can make problems like abdominal separation and low back pain worse, and prevents flattening of the abdomen.
The secret to flattening the abs after pregnancy is to recondition from the inside out--by building strength and control in your transverse first. There are so many postnatal transverse exercises that are safe to do right after either a vaginal delivery or a C-section, and for those with abdominal separation. Whether you had a vaginal or C-section delivery, to ensure that you heal properly, you need to strengthen and shorten the abdominal muscles that have been stretched. It is important to remember that while you do any exercises or activities, you should always pull in your stomach muscles or think ZIP UP!
If you feel pain or feel that your diastisis recti is actually splitting more, you should stop ab strengthening exercises or movements. Seek out the help of a Physicial Therapist or Fitness instructor who is trained in Postpartum specific exercises. They can help you repair your abdominal wall and get you back on the road to recovery.
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