This is the million dollar question. We all want it. The often elusive tummy that looks and feels like it did before we had kids. Although it’s true that for some mamas their bodies seem to spring back, I think most of us feel noticeable changes in our bodies.
For me it’s definitely the softer abdomen. Being a woman who was born with curvy hips, I always took pride in my strong, flat abs, and small waist. Even though my abs are strong again now, and I can always make my tummy flat by activating my deep core, I still carry a softness through the region that I didn’t have before becoming a mom. When I relax my tummy it can round in a way it never did before.
I know I’m not alone here. I have been getting questions about this particular issue a lot lately, and I think it’s high time we all had a good long chat about it. The truth is, I don’t have all the answers as to why this happens to women and how exactly we can fix it. I have a few pretty good ideas, which I’m about to explain to you, and I really want your feedback as well.
I want to solve this problem together!
Here are my thoughts about why we may still carry a belly pooch:
I won’t spend too much time on this today, but it goes without saying the primary reason this happens is because we don’t use our deep core muscles to properly pull in our abdomen. If you’re not familiar with our method and beliefs on this topic you can check out our free video series on finding your deep core by clicking the button below.
Let’s consider the mama (like myself and others I work with) who has beautiful deep core strength and function, but can also have a fairly rounded abdomen when she relaxes these muscles. I think this is quite common. My best, educated guess about why this happens is that our muscles and fascia have been stretched during pregnancy and that these tissues give and expand more easily than they did before. Also, people vary in their amount of tissue damage during pregnancy (ie- a woman with a DRA that doesn’t resolve in 8 weeks may have a more bulging tummy than a woman without a DRA, because of how the linea alba overstretched). Sadly, we may always have tummies that have more excursion and rounding capabilities than they used to. I think it’s possible that over time, with continued use of our deep core to keep our tummy flat, to reduce the extensibility of our tissues and have a more taut abdomen and thus flatter abs even in a relaxed state. But, I can’t prove it. What do you think? Do you PT’s out there have any thoughts on this?
Gravity? (I know, that sounds like a poor excuse). Think about this… Remember when you were pregnant and your belly seemed so much bigger at the end of the day than it did in the morning when you first got up? I always associated this with the effects of gravity and being up on my feet all day. This week I had the opportunity to Skype with one of our Core Strength Program participants who notices her relaxed tummy is much rounder and larger at night than in the morning. She’s thin, fit, and strong, with great deep core activation. She can draw her belly flat with her muscles in the evening, but when relaxed it rounds quite a bit. I found this curious (which is what inspired this blog post!), and the best explanation I could come up with is a combination of the tissues history of being stretched with the effects of gravity all day.
Back to my big question:
Is is even possible to get your old tummy back?
What do you think? Is proper strengthening enough to restore resting tension in abs that have grown children? Do you have any tricks to help make this happen?
I would LOVE to hear from you. Share your story, advice, and questions in the comments below this post. Let’s get the conversation rolling.
As always, if you love what you’re reading share it with your friends!
Here’s to flat, relaxed tummies.