You have given birth. You have lived with back pain and aches for during the pregnancy. After which the back pain keeps returning. You feel tired when you lift your baby and then you feel guilty for not being strong enough. When you laugh or cough you feel a small leak. You are embarrassed. Like most women you ignore it. Sweep it under the rug and a ton of chores you have to do. You chalk it down to postpartum effects. We as women are used to ignoring our bodies and wellness. Our families come first. Our children, our jobs, our home. If there is (and that is a big IF) then we look on the internet and search our symptoms and find some exercises and try on our own to strengthen our core. Work on our postpartum bodies and try to fix our bodies with tape and spit. (True or false?).
The other scenario is where you have reached a certain age. Post 40 probably and now your body has started feeling achy. Tired? Shoulder pains, Back pains or hip pains. You take medications. Start chalking it to aging and learn to live with a misaligned body. Have you considered that it can be fixed? That by strengthening your core you can actually strengthen your body and regain complete movement. You can feel strong, confident and much more healthier. Your body might be aging but you do not HAVE to feel old.
That being said, not everyone needs Core Strengthening. Not necessarily. Sometimes we believe that’s what we need or have been led to believe so and thus we begin a regiment and begin working out and do the work for strengthening where you might actually need is to relax the core. You might be carrying stress there or have a very tight core and the muscles are all bunched up to the point that you actually need help in loosening up your core. By conducting strengthening exercises you may end up actually causing more harm and damage. It may already be hypertonic. Wrong engagement might increase the tension. Needless to say that you will continue to feel the physical symptoms that will lead to further disappointment and frustration.
“In a society where health often comes second (or third), we believe that it is important to take time to keep your body functioning at an optimal level, so that you can perform in other facets of your life with maximum efficiency.” - Says Katie Sellars Chiropractor * http://www.sellarswellness.com/
So what is a CORE?
Core is a big buzz word that is often thrown around in the fitness world. Everyone wants a strong core, but what does this actually mean?
The core is the Centre point of our body, it is where all movement in the body originates, daily activities like laughing, coughing, carrying your baby or groceries, and keeping you continent are all examples of times that you need your core to work for you.
A weak core could result in back pain, pelvic floor dysfunctions, believe it or not many of our body pains such as neck pain, shoulder or hip pain could be the result of a non-functioning core.
Let’s break this down, the core is actually comprised of four parts, this is a missing link in the health and fitness industry at the moment.
The four parts are:
Pelvic Floor and
This team is supposed to work together synergistically anticipating our every move.
What then is a non-functioning core?
One that does not have this team working together in unison. How do you know if this is you, you may have back pain, or maybe you leak during exercise or life activities.
The good news is that something can be done about this and it is not necessarily a long process either. Ideally women know how to engage their core properly before having babies. However if you are like many of us women who had no idea about this and thought that leaking is just part of womanhood it is not too late after baby or years after baby. Something most definitely can be done about it.
What are you supposed to do?
The number one thing you should do is get assessed by a pelvic floor physio therapist. She can assess exactly where you are at.
After that you should learn to properly engage the core and practice this till it becomes second nature.
Engaging your core is called Core breath or pistol breath.
Seeking help from a movement specialist who can help you incorporate this into your workouts.
"Breathing right is the first step in a multiple step process of developing your Core. “It should be a bare basic in every training before any other form of exercises are engaged.”
Says Beth Albert DPT, BKin, FCAMPT, RYT, CAFCI *https://sosphysiotherapy.ca/our%20staff/beth-albert/
"It is crucial to balance the intra-abdominal pressure against the pelvic floor. Breathe and proper core use accomplishes that. Myofascial release and lengthening of the muscles need to occur before teaching the appropriate recruitment and coordination of the pelvic floor.” - Says RENEE QUIRING BHScPT | Pelvic Health Physiotherapist - * https://www.allthingspelvic.com/
Here are the step by step instructions for mastering The Core Breath.
Sit on your stability ball and pull your bum flesh out from under you so you can really feel the sitz bones. Your reference points should be your 2 sitz bones and your perineum on the surface of the ball. Your feet will be flat on the floor and slightly wider than pelvis width apart.
2. Now put one hand on belly and one hand on ribs – breathe into your hands – Inhale To Expand. You should feel your ribs expand and your belly expand away from your spine as the air draws in and fills
you up. Sometimes it helps to think about breathing sideways to help bring the air to your ribs. For
others it helps to visualize inflating a balloon inside your and filling up the balloon with air.
3. Once you have it, focus on the inhale for a few breaths – inhale to expand and feel your ribs inflate,
your belly expand and bring your awareness to your pelvic floor. Feel space between your sitz bones and a sense of fullness in your perineum. Focus just on the in-breath for a while and really connect
with the feeling of expansion that each inhale brings to your ribs, your belly and your pelvic floor.
The breathing diaphragm moves down as you breathe in and up as you breathe out and the pelvic floor works in synergy with the diaphragm so it also descends (expands) as you breathe in and lifts (engages) as you breathe out. The more the diaphragm can move the more your lungs can expand and the more oxygen you can take in.
You have connected with the inhale, now bring your awareness to your exhale. As your breathe out, feel the ribs soften, the belly move inwards and the pelvic floor lift. You may feel less fullness in your perineum, less space between the sitz bones, less awareness of the surface of the ball.
2. Once you have connected with the out breath purse your lips and blow as if you are blowing out
birthday candles – it should be a slow audible exhale through pursed lips. How did that change the
sensations? Were you more aware of the movement in your pelvic floor? By pursing your lips, it
changes the sensations of pressure and typically heightens the sensation of lift and inward movement
of the pelvic floor and belly. This is The Core Breath – Inhale to Expand, Exhale to Engage. Always
exhale through pursed lips…. and now for the fun part – you will add in some visualizations to really
connect with the lifting movement of the pelvic floor as you exhale to engage and voluntarily contract the pelvic.
3. Imagine as you exhale...
Preventing a tampon from slipping out
Picking up a blueberry with your vagina and anus
Lifting your perineum up towards the crown of your head
Each time you inhale you are relaxing and softening the pelvic floor as it expands. Each time
your exhale you are pursing your lips and voluntarily lifting and engaging your pelvic floor as
it contracts. Core breathing supports the optimal function of your core and naturally
strengthens the pelvic floor and deep abdominals.
By practicing daily throughout your pregnancy you will help maintain a fit and healthy core
while preventing or minimizing diastasis recti and pelvic floor challenges. Postpartum it will help your core remember its optimal function and support your return to being a stronger mummy with a
Reference: * https://www.belliesinc.com/
Beth Albert DPT,BKin,FCAMPT,RYT,CAFCI https://sosphysiotherapy.ca/our%20staff/beth-albert/
Katie Sellars Chiropractor http://www.sellarswellness.com/
RENEE QUIRING BHScPT|Pelvic Health Physiotherapist- https://www.allthingspelvic.com/