In this series Merrithew® Master Instructor Trainer Laureen Dubeau takes a look at postnatal fitness through the lens of STOTT PILATES®.
Reconnecting with the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles is imperative following any type of delivery vaginal or c-section. Weight and pressure on the pelvic floor, altered posture and surgery will affect how the pelvic floor functions. At first, activating the pelvic floor muscles will be an exercise in itself, but work toward maintaining the engagement throughout an exercise. Engagement can be done in a seated, supine (on the back) or quadruped (on hands and knees) position.
- Ensure you are achieving a deep contraction of the pelvic floor without the use of other bigger abdominal or glute (buttox) muscles
- Stopping the flow of urine is good to find the muscles in question, but not as an exercise
- Work to sustain the contraction for longer periods of time, but be sure to release the muscles as well
- Feeling the low, deep abdominals engage is a cue that you are doing the exercises correctly
- Avoid holding your breath as this puts more pressure on the pelvic floor
Exercise: Quadruped Knee Lift
On hands and knees with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips, toes tucked under, spine in a neutral position (not curved upward or downward), nose pointing to the floor.
- Breathe in to prepare
- Breathe out and lift the knees slightly off the mat without changing the shape of the spine
- Breathe in to lower the knees
- Repeat 10 times
Note: Keeping the knees together or placing a Mini Stability Ball between the knees and squeezing the inner thighs on the lift may activate the pelvic floor muscles more effectively. Gradually progress to keeping the knees lifted for an extra breath before lowering without releasing the pelvic floor.
Other exercise options: