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Postpartum Core & Pelvic Floor Activation

Hello there, mama!

Are you constantly filled with worries?

Worries about doing the simple things you want? Pushing the stroller? Carrying your older child? Returning to exercise?

Worries about Diastasis? Prolapse? Bladder leakage or incontinence? Neverending back pain?

What if I told you that your “core” may be turned off and I could help you turn it back on?

Would you be interested? If so, watch the video below or read on to learn about core activation.

https://youtu.be/1HcMzy3TChM

What is my “core”?

What do you think about when you hear your “core”? Maybe you think about 6-pack abs or maybe Tamilee’s Buns of Steel.

Different people use the term core to refer to different things. For our purposes today, we are going to talk about the core as two parts.

Inner Core

Your inner core is your stabilizer muscles. Imagine a canister with the diaphragm on top, the pelvic floor muscles below, and the transverse abdominis and multifidus around the sides. These muscles contract – or squeeze – to prepare for movement. This movement can be anything from standing up from the couch to jogging down the street to reaching for an object. Often times, during pregnancy/birth these muscles will “turn off” and then not turn back on.

Justine Pointing to Pelvic Floor

Outer Core

Your outer core is your mover muscles. These lie closer to the surface of your body than the inner core and consist of your rectus abdominis, abdominal obliques, and erector spinae. When your inner core muscles are not working as they should, the outer core muscles will try to take over and do the work. However, these muscles are not made to stabilize and the resulting imbalance can create pain and dysfunction in the body.

How Do I Turn My “Core” On?

Now that you know what your core is, how do you turn it on? If you search on Pinterest or Google, you will find a wide list of core exercises. Some of these will help, but some are meant to strengthen only the outer core for the 6-pack abs. I like to start many of my postpartum moms with an exercise I call the jellyfish.

jellyfish

JellyFish

The jellyfish is an exercise to connect your breath with your inner core muscles. Visualize your diaphragm as the top of the jellyfish with the tentacles hanging down all around your body to the pelvic floor.

  • When you inhale, your muscles act like the jellyfish at rest and relax (be careful not to bear down.)
  • When you exhale, the muscles gather up together pulling up through the center (think jellyfish moving in the water.)

A great position to start in is lying on your back with a pillow below your hips. This decreases gravity’s effects on your organs and allows you to focus on the exercise.

Where Can I Find Help?

Pelvic Physical Therapy works on YOUR goals.  While we talked here about core activation, the point of activation the core is not solely for the muscles to work, but to allow you to do what you want to do. All moms should have at least one session with a qualified physical therapist to assess where they are in the healing process and for tips and resources to best heal. I like to use what is called the Aquaflex (see picture below) to assist with the muscle activation process. Other tools I use are manual feedback by feeling into the tissues and myofascial release.

Aquaflex Vaginal Cones for Core Activation

Know that once you are postpartum – you are always postpartum. While the sooner the better to get checked out and start improving your health, it is never too late. Check out my free Postpartum Checklist for more tips and tricks.

If you are local to Woodland Park or Colorado Springs, schedule an appointment at Healing Spot Physical Therapy.

AUTHOR
Justine Calderwood

The Healing Spot Physical Therapy

"We help women overcome pelvic floor issues, heal from chronic pain, and have healthy pregnancies with a complete Postpartum recovery so they can get back to the active lifestyle they enjoy."
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