Get Your Abs Flat Again! … or… Find Your Deep Core!

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Deep Core Series – Part 1

Here at Making Mom Strong, we are dedicated to bringing you accurate information about your body, your muscles and postpartum abdominal exercises that are effective and safe.  This is not super trendy – but hopefully this more accurate way of approaching your core muscles (research based!) will be known by everyone world wide one day.

This blog is part of our mission to help women get back to the life they love after having babies.

 

Most of us don’t have abs that just pop back to being trim and taut after having a baby.  (If you do, then awesome for you!) Let me show you the best way to make this happen… let me teach you all about your deep core.

We’ve ALL heard about the core. It’s super trendy in the world of exercise, and for good reason!  It’s the hub of everything we do with our bodies. 

The problem is, many women don’t train their core properly,which can lead to abs that pooch out, back pain and peeing your pants.  True!  We THINK we are doing it right because we are “pulling our belly button to our spine” or sucking in – but that can be part of the problem.

I’m going to teach you how to find your deep core muscles so that you can train them well and start kicking booty with all your exercises.


Your Deep Core Muscles are like a canister:Deep Core Anatomy

 

  • On top is your diaphragm. That’s right, it’s a big muscle.
  • The bottom is your pelvic floor, the sling of muscles that supports all your organs.
  • The back is the multifidus of your spine, tiny short little muscles between each of your back bones.
  • The front (and sides and back) of the canister is your transversus abdominis (which we fondly refer to as the TA). It’s the deepest abdominal muscle and it acts like your body’s own built in girdle…. thus, SUPER important!

 

 

Check out this picture to see how the four walls of the canister come together. Feel around on your own body to get a sense of where these muscles are.

There are countless ways to train your core, but we believe that before you jump into some wild exercise routine you first must be able to turn it on and off well. 

To Activate your Deep Core Muscles:

  • Lie on your back with knees bent
  • Do a kegel by contracting and lifting your pelvic floor muscles up into your body with out holding your breath, tilting your pelvis or tightening your legs.
  • Hold the kegel and now pretend like you are zipping up tight jeans and don’t want to get your pubic hair caught in the zipper!  I know this is funny, but it works!
  • Feel your lower abs draw in slightly and become taught.
  • Recheck and make sure you aren’t holding your breath

This can be difficult to do initially.  Not holding your breath or rounding your spine is KEY to being able to do this correctly when it really counts – like when you are exercising or lifting your child.  Do it right now and you will have a good foundation to build from!

We’ve created a great Masterclass to teach you how to do it right.  Check it out here:

Practice this on your back, in sitting and standing.  My favorite places to practice are when I’m brushing my teeth and sitting at my computer.  DO THIS EVERY DAY MULTIPLE TIMES!  


I know you have zero extra time, but building in little practices like this will help you become certain you are really able to fire your deep core.  You will already start to feel stronger, and you’ll be ready for the next training exercises.  

Let us know in the comments if you have particular questions or “ah ha!” moments.

xo

Meg

 

Check out Part 2 of the Deep Core Series here.

6 Comments

  • Jamie says:

    When I do this exercise I have pain. Whenever I tighten my pelvic floor and use my core I will have achiness and pain for the day. I am fine after I sleep at night. Why is this? It makes it hard to function day to day. I do have a slight prolaspe.

    • makingmomstrong says:

      That is a good question. You shouldn’t be having pain with contracting muscles. It would be good to see your doctor about this, and especially see a Women’s Health Physical Therapist that can exam your pelvic floor muscles and see what’s really going on. You may have hyper-tonic/ spasmed muscles that don’t know how to relax, or something else. Especially with a slight prolapse, getting to the bottom of things is really important. Good luck!
      Jennifer

      • Jamie says:

        I have been seeing a pelvic floor pt for 7 years. She doesn’t have any answers for me.

        • makingmomstrong says:

          Jamie, I’m so sorry that no one seems to be giving you good answers. What about a second opinion? I currently work in a clinic with a few PT’s, and sometimes we see each other’s clients and we all learn new things. You can check out the Women’s Health section of the APTA for local PT’s that might be able to help you. http://www.womenshealthapta.org/pt-locator/

  • Taryn says:

    Hello! Thanks for all this helpful info! I am 6 weeks PP and I’ve been trying to practice activating my deep core for the past couple of weeks. I’m wondering when I’m exercising when exactly it should be activated. Should it be activated when I’m running? When I’m curling working biceps for example? The whole time or activate with each curl? I’m just not sure.

    • makingmomstrong says:

      Hi Taryn,
      I’m so glad that you are getting your deep core muscles working again after having your baby! Congratulations.
      Yes, eventually your TA is on lightly with all activity, and eventually it can stay on lightly with running, lifting weights. But, it is equally as important to relax your belly and especially your pelvic floor when you aren’t doing something strenuous. Athletic women, especially, tend to have too tight or spasmed pelvic floors – which can also be a cause of stress incontinence with jumping and other high intensity activities. As with everything, too much can be as bad as too little. I hope that helps!
      Jennifer

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