Abdominal exercises are an integral part of strengthening your core muscles after birth. They are also useful for preventing post-natal injuries while running. Follow a few of these helpful exercises to strengthen your obliques, stomach, side and pelvis muscles to help get you back running in no time.
Sets and reps: Start with two sets of eight to 10 repetitions and build up until you can do two sets of 15.
Muscles: Pelvic floor muscles
Why do it?
Activating the muscles of your pelvic floor forms the basis of your core strength and post-natal strength exercises.
■ Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
■ You should have a normal arch in your back
■ Place your finger tips of one hand on your hip bone
■ The other hand’s fingertips go into the small of your back
■ Push your lower back flat onto the floor
■ The arch in your lower back should be flat and you should feel your top finger moving slightly up towards your ribcage
■ Control each repetition by feeling the same amount of pressure on your fingers in the small of your back
Watch points: Always warm up your core with pelvic tilts. It helps to stimulate the nerve supply between your brain and your muscles. This will prevent back pain and other injuries.
KETTLEBELL STOMACH LIFTS
Muscles: Deeper stomach muscles (transversus abdominis), neuromuscular activation (nerve communication between your brain and muscles)
Why do it?
Due to the changes in the position of your stomach muscles during pregnancy, it’s important to activate the nerves supplying your stomach muscles, especially if you had a C-section.
■ Lie on your back
■ Place a kettlebell on your stomach and hold it in place with your hands
■ Pull your belly button in towards your spine gently push down with your hands on the kettlebell
■ Ensure that you don’t hold your breath
■ Push your stomach out
■ Ensure that you don’t move your shoulders or hips
Watch points: Breathe normally while doing this exercise. The more you practise, the more movement and control you’ll get.
SINGLE-LEG TOE TAPS
Muscles: Deeper stomach muscles, stomach muscle (transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis)
Why do it?
This helps to strengthen the lower part of your stomach. It is very important if you had a C-section.
■ Lie flat on your back and lift your legs up to form a right angle
■ Keep your arms on the floor next to your body
■ Perform a pelvic tilt like in exercise one
■ Slowly lower your right leg to the floor until your toes touch the floor
■ Lift your right leg up to the starting position and repeat with your left leg
Watch points: Ensure that you use your core muscles and don’t just move your legs up and down
HIP ROLLS Muscles: Side muscles (obliques)
Why do it?
Strengthening your side muscles will help you to get your waistline back.
■ Lie on the floor with your legs at a right angle
■ Take your arms to the side and place your palms flat on the floor
■ Slowly roll your legs over to the right side
■ Allow your knees to touch the floor but try not to rest
■ Ensure that your shoulders stay on the floor
■ Lift your legs up to the starting position
■ Roll your legs over to the left
■ Alternate between the two sides
Watch points: If you find this exercise too hard, keep your feet on the floor until you are strong enough to keep your legs at a right angle.
IMPORTANT: Before starting your post-natal core training workout, you need to get clearance from your doctor or health care professional. It’s important that your stomach muscles have moved back to their normal positions before starting the workout. As a rule of thumb, you should only start training after six weeks if you had a normal birth and 10 weeks if you had a C-section.