Core Concepts for Core Strength

February 1, 2017

 

Can I ask you a question? If I were to ask you where your core is, what’s the first thing you’d point to? If I were to ask you what your core is, how would you answer? If you pointed to your stomach or answered, “abs”, you are only partially correct. And don’t worry! This is a common misconception for most people as most “core” exercises you see are variations of crunches, leg lifts, etc.

 

By definition, the core actually refers to your entire trunk, which includes the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, the diaphragm, and the pelvic floor. Check out this article for more info on how the core and pelvic floor are connected!

 

Your core’s main job is stabilization. Basically, it keeps your body safe while bending, lifting, twisting, running, jumping, everything. This is especially important to know as many common “mom injuries” are due to core weakness.

 

Some core weakness related issues one might experience are:

1. Back Pain

2. Incontinence

3. Frequent Injury or Strain While Lifting

 

Working with new mamas, it is ever so common to have our initial conversation focused on “wanting their abs back” after having their baby.  I cringe a little bit thinking about all the things that we, as new moms, are inundated with by the “body back culture.” But I get it. I don’t love it. In fact I hate it. But I get it. (We’ll save that for another day.)  

 

So when a new client starts talking to me about abs, I try to broaden the picture a bit more by asking just a few more questions.

 

1. Are you experiencing core weakness?

2. Low back pain?

3. Incontinence?

4. Having difficulty bending and lifting/lowering your newborn into their bassinet?

5. Have you noticed a separation down the midline of your belly?

Most often, the answer is yes to at least 3 of these. When we dive in a bit deeper like this, all of the sudden abs are just part of the picture or discarded all together.

 

As mothers, our jobs are extremely physical. If you were to count how many times you squatted during the day, it’s safe to say that you’d reach well over 25. And that’s a super safe bet. We need to feel strong. We need to feel stable while lifting and carrying our precious little babes. We can’t afford to injure ourselves by throwing our backs out. No sick days, right?

 

So instead of focusing only on “abs”, let’s start looking at our entire core, because truthfully, our core is the center of everything. And if you want to lift, run, jump, ski, hike, etc, you’ve got to start at the core.

 

So how do you train the entire core?

 

First things first, we need to connect our breath to our core. Respiration is the key to core activation. Check out this article to learn more! 

 

Creating that core/floor connection that my clients are now all too familiar with is

the first step in strength training for new mamas or soon to be mamas. But you know what’s funny? Even my clients who have not experienced pregnancy or childbirth know about the core/floor connection. It truly is important for everyone. Again, you can read more about it here. Also, check out this awesome diagram from Burrell Education showing the interconnectedness of the core and respiration! (Diagram borrowed with permission.) 

 

Next, we’re going beyond the abs, right? We’re thinking about the entire trunk and its function. What are the things you’re doing during the day that requires core engagement? My favorite “core moves” for my ALL of my clients, both pregnant and postpartum are as follows:

 

1. Glute Bridge

2. Band Pull Through’s

3. Goblet Squats

4. Suitcase or Racked Carries

5. Pallof Press

 

What? No sit-ups? No planks? No leg lifts? You got it! There is so much more you can do for the core. Try these moves out and let me know what you think!

 

 

NEW! Interested in creating a strong foundation after baby? The New Mama’s Guide is here! A core, pelvic floor and total body strength training program for new moms. This is a gentle program for new mothers to restore their strength after baby. For 12 weeks of specific programming along with an information guide providing up to date, new mama specific content, be sure to check out the shop!

 

Expecting mamas! Congratulations! Pregnancy is such a beautiful time in a woman’s life. But it can also bring on a lot of uncertainty about what you should and shouldn’t do for exercise. There is a lot more to it than just “doing what you’ve been doing and tapering off as you see fit.”

If you are looking for a program that will help you stay strong and comfortable during pregnancy, be sure to ask about the Stronger for Two training program! This program has been designed to help guide you through each trimester, focused on building strength for function. As your trainer, I help you stay strong during pregnancy, labor, birth, and beyond by using specific strength workouts geared towards helping you meet the demands of motherhood head on. Learn about core and pelvic floor strength and function during and after pregnancy. Feel supported throughout your pregnancy. Have confidence in your body during birth and beyond!

 

 

 

 

 

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