The most important post pregnancy rehab exercises

Pregnancy and childbirth affect your body in so many ways but the part of your body that takes the biggest knock is your core. Your abs get stretched and abused beyond recognition.

Most people think of their core as their abs where in fact it is actually all the muscles in your midsection including your back and hips. Pregnancy stretches and weakens your ab muscles, shortens and overworks the back muscles and widens the hips causing instability.

Can you see why it is so important that you start your rehab work on strengthening that core? Before attempting any physical exercise it is important to get the all clear from your doctor. You can also ask your doctor to check if you have diastasis recti. This is when the connecting tissue between your abs thins and causes your muscles to separate. This is a normal condition during pregnancy but may remain present afterwards in some women in which case you will need some special rehabilitation.

These are my recommended exercises and you can start them as soon as you get that all clear from the doc and all stitches/incisions have been removed and healed (c-section mamas you may have to wait a bit longer than those that had a natural birth).

1. Belly Breathing
Lie on your back with your knees up and feet resting on the floor. Take in a deep breath and then breathe out tightening your tummy muscles and pulling your belly button towards your spine. Hold the contraction for 5 seconds and try to work up to 10 seconds.

2. Single Leg Toe Taps
Lie on your back with your knees bent in a 90 degree angle (feet in the air). Hold your abs tight by doing your belly breathing and then lower one leg down to the floor and then back up. Do not let your lower back or spine move during the exercise. Complete 10 on each side.

3. Pelvic Tilts
Lie on your back with your feet elevated on either a ball or chair (maintaining a 90 degree angle with your knees). Tilt your pelvis back by pressing your lower back into the floor, hold for 5 seconds then repeat.

4. Hollow Holds
Lieo n your back contracting your abs and pulling your belly towards the floor. Keep your legs straight and arms extended overhead in line with your ears. Inhale to slowly lift your shoulders, arms, and legs off the floor. Keep your hands and heels as low to the ground as possible, while still pressing your lower back into the floor. Maintain tight abs and glutes. It’s OK to bend your knees if straight legs are too challenging. Hold for anything from 5-30 seconds.

5. Single-leg Deadlifts
Stand with feet under your hips. Shift your weight to stand on one leg which should remain straight with a soft bend in the knee. Keep your other leg straight and extend it behind you while bending forward until your body is almost parallel with the floor, then come back up. Do 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg. TIP: this will also challenge your balance so pick a spot with your eye and try to focus on it to help you from falling over.

6. Elbow Planks
Place your elbows on the ground or alternatively on the top of a stability ball and extended your legs out behind. Brace your abdomen and hips, straighten your back and hold the position for at least thirty seconds. Try to work up to a minute.  Be sure to keep a nice straight line with your body (don’t let your bum stick up or drop to the ground).

7 . Side Planks
Lie on your side with your elbow under your shoulder. Stack your hips and feet, stabilize your core, and lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line. Hold here for at least thirty seconds. Repeat on the other side.

* I will be doing an Instagram post where I will demonstrate each of these exercises so be sure to check it out