Core Stability after Pregnancy Part I: Core Stability and the Coke Can, what do we have in common?
Pregnancy is a major event in a young woman’s life, needless to say, a major event in her body. The changes that comes with pregnancy can be hormonal changes, postural and aesthetic changes, mental health and abilities to perform desired tasks.
I have dedicated a 3-Part blog about the fundamentals of core stability after pregnancy. I hope you'll gain more clarity about how you can start building the foundations of your body's strengths!
In the physical and aesthetic changes, many women end up with visibly obvious changes in the abdomen and posture. Breast feeding, pumping and caring for the newborn are repetitive tasks that requires the mother to bend forwards, causing the muscles that make us slouch work more frequently, hence they become tighter. This may also cause the mother to have difficulty engaging the core, or reportedly feeling weaker.
3 things about our core stability you need to know:
1. The core stability is important for us to transfer load from upper to lower body vice versa,
2. Core stability is more than just the abs, it also includes the Diaphragm and Pelvic Floor Muscles (PFM) as well. This means movement and flexibility in the ribs (which houses the diaphragm) and hips (houses the PFM) are important supporting factors to Core stability
3. 3 surfaces of Core structure needs to be balanced, and strong. Any emphasis placed solely on abs may throw off the balance of the core stability, and pain or dysfunction may occur.
When people speak about the CORE stability, they often discuss mainly about the abdominal muscles group.
The core is NOT JUST ABS. The core is a system that allows the body to withstand external forces and pressure for humans to perform functional tasks.
The structure of our core stability can be visualized similar to a Can as such:
The Anatomy of a Can consists of 3 surfaces:
Base of can
In the human body, our ‘CAN’ is comprised of :
Diaphragm — Top lid
Abdominal wall & Back/spine — Cylindrical wall
Pelvic floor muscles (and buttocks) — Base of can
When the surfaces of the Can is intact, it is able to withstand external forces, and remain erect with structures intact. Imagine the following scenario:
Stacking 10kg weights on the Can. The Can is able to continue holding the 10kg weight, if the structure is not altered.
When the walls of the Can is damaged,
The Can may crash or bend over after applying external pressure, and
The line of weakness is magnified, the structure will ‘give way’ to forces. And in the human body, it means possibly having issues such as back pain or incontinence, or hernias. Some women report ‘having difficulty engaging their core’.
When additional reinforcements such as abdominal binder is applied for long periods of time:
Excessive pressure on abdominal wall, other surfaces may have difficulty matching up to the strength/closure, pressure may be forced through other ‘weaker’ surfaces such as PFM or diaphragm. What does it mean? It means you may experience back pain or leaking of urine during a sneeze, since the distribution of forces may be compensated.
More than Just the Abs
Post partum rehabilitation is more than just strengthening the Abs. Gradual progression of the fundamentals of our core stability is important for young mothers to continue to lead an active and meaningful lifestyle through their motherhood and towards menopause. Seek assessment from our physiotherapist who is able to give you a strong foundation of your core stability before starting your workouts. Our physiotherapist is committed to help you, one woman at a time. Let us tailor your rehab needs according to your goals and body needs.
Tune in to Part II of Core Stability after Pregnancy:
Where do I start with core stability exercise?