Are you pregnant and have no idea how to train your abs now? Should you even train your abs during pregnancy? You bet your sweet bottom, you can and should! The key is to think about it a little differently. Let’s talk.
Traditional ab movements like sit ups and crunches place a lot of strain outward on the tummy. During pregnancy, your ab muscles are doing a lot of stretching. When you do flexion movements like traditional ab work, you can place a great deal of strain on this already compromised system. Besides, traditional ab work is overrated in general.
The key to effective core training during pregnancy is to train the deepest ab system, your transverse abdominals. These deep core muscles run laterally…think, like shoe laces. And they have a really awesome job of acting like a natural corset for our bodies. The transverse abdominals protect the spine, provide stability, and help with posture.
For obvious reasons, we want this deep core system to stay as strong as possible throughout pregnancy. Here are five reasons why.
1: Reduces the extent of diastasis recti during and after pregnancy.
All women experience diastasis recti (or a “separation” of the six pack muscles). It is your body’s really cool way of making room for baby. But–we want to minimize the extent of this during pregnancy. Training the deep core system helps keep those corset muscles strong and can help you manage intra-abdominal pressure (i.e. limit doming or coning from your tummy). Being mindful during pregnancy can make for a better overall pregnancy and certainly sets you up for a better recovery.
2: Reduces pelvic girdle pain (SPD) and back pain.
Approximately 2 out of 3 pregnant women experience back pain. Since the deepest core system acts much like a natural support brace for the body, keeping this system strong is key at reducing pain. During pregnancy, hormone shifts makes our bodies a little more relaxed. The best combat to laxity is strength. So keep that deep core working and you will reap the benefits.
3: Improved posture.
As bump continues to grow, we are more like to fall into some compensatory posture strategies. Namely, the butt tuck or the big low back arch. Strengthening the deep core (and glutes!) helps keep our body in better alignment. And, when we are in better alignment, our pelvic floor stays happier and can function better. Yes, I’m talking about reduced leaking when you sneeze, cough, jump or puke!
4: Aids in delivery.
Most people think they need to “purple push” (breath holding and bearing down) during delivery. In reality, we want our pelvic floor to get out of the way and we want our uterus and strong transverse abdominis to do the work! Keeping the deep core strong throughout pregnancy can help get that baby out more effectively.
Ready to learn how to train your body during pregnancy? SLAM Pregnancy is an awesome program that combines fitness and expert health tips from a variety of pelvic floor physical therapists, and other birth workers. Stay strong and get empowered.