Core Stability after pregnancy Part III: The BEST exercise program to a strong start!
The best exercise program after labour and pregnancy, in my opinion, is none other than Pilates.
Pilates has 6 principles that guide us to the basics of good movements. In my journey of teaching and learning Pilates, I have gained insights of delivering the desired outcomes to my clients’ movements. We worked through the 'blind spots' in their bodies, and used the muscles that have been forgotten, or maladapted throughout pregnancy and the process of baby-care and breastfeeding. Re-gaining control and awareness of their bodies has given these women a head-start in their quest for a healthier and fitter lifestyle. As they say: “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother’.
The 6 Principles of Pilates are:
Axial Elongation and core control
Organization of the head, neck, shoulders
Alignment and weight bearing of extremities
“The Breath is the first act of life and the last” “Above all else, Learn to breathe correctly” – Joseph Pilates.
Have you ever stopped to feel how you are breathing? When was the last time you took a liberating deep breath?
Which parts of your body are involved when you take a deep, or shallow breath? Do you find yourself stopping in your breath when you move or in deep concentration?
As mentioned in Part 2 of this series, the Diaphragm is an essential muscle involved in core stability. Because of the location of the muscle, it is often forgotten, and not used well. A good inhalation brings in a fresh supply of oxygen to our muscles, brain and heart, why not?
2. Axial Elongation & Core Control –
“Good posture can be successfully acquired only when the entire mechanism of the body is under perfect control. Graceful carriage follows as a matter of course.” – Joseph Pilates
As every mother knows, our feels and looks different after pregnancy and labour. Unlike what social media portrays, many mothers do not return to what they feel, much less what they look like, after they had their baby. The muscles that adapt through pregnancy, do not naturally return to their original state after the baby is born.
As the main caregiver, we get many musculoskeletal pains such as Mummy’s wrist/hand, lower and mid back pain, and incontinence. Axial elongation and core control puts the person in the most ideal posture she can be, to increase efficiency of movement.
3: Spine Articulation –
“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young” – Joseph Pilates
A flexible spine is able to distribute the forces more evenly throughout our body when we move.
4: Organization of the Head, Neck, and Shoulders –
How does the positioning of our head, neck and shoulders look before and after pregnancy?
Why does this matter?
Our head, neck and shoulders influences our awareness of the world. It is where we access to our senses; vision, hearing and touch. Having good alignment of our upper half of the body can portray our confidence, or when we slouch, make us feel and look less confident.
5: Alignment & Weight Bearing of the Extremities –
“Ideal alignment involves all body parts approximating toward the central axis, as much as structure permits.” – Eric Franklin
Our torso is the axis of the body, where the arms and legs executes what we desire to do. Our brain receives sensory input via our exploration of the world, through the hands and feet. We are able to explore the environment freely, if our senses make us feel safe, exactly as how our babies explore the world.
6: Movement Integration –
How does our body integrate movements of each body part during a desired task, such as lifting a baby?
It takes complex planning of our brain to instruct our skeletal structure to perform a task, and as yogi Vanda Scaravelli puts it, ”Movement is the song of the body”.
A Strong Foundation to a Strong Core
Regardless of the sport you wish to return to, Pilates serves a safe and sensible baseline of exercises for you to build a strong foundation to your activity.
The timeline of starting exercise will differ between a natural vaginal delivery, or a Caesarean section delivery.
The sequence of pregnancy also means a new routine needs to be established with every new family member in the house. The best time to start exercising is when you feel ready to do so. Consult your doctor or our dedicated physiotherapist prior to starting an exercise program, to check your readiness for exercise.
Dance with your bodies today, mamas.