As Fitness Professionals, even if we are not properly trained in working with pregnant or postnatal clients, we have usually picked up some form of recommended information along the way.
One of these being ‘don’t do anymore ‘abs’ work’ – which makes sense given tighter abdominals would make it harder for a growing baby and for those that have heard of ‘Abdominal Separation’ we understand that this occurs at the linea alba and ‘abs work’ could add extra pressure and potentially cause or make it worse.
In this article I wanted to give you a little more insight into why you may have been told to stop doing ‘abs’ work and also where you can start and what to add in instead – because, really you do want to continue strengthening your pregnant clients abdominals – it’s just we need to concentrate on the muscles on the inside rather than her outer abdominal wall.
So when we tell our pregnant clients we won’t be doing any more abs work, do we understand why and do we know what to do instead?
The longer (but still kinda short) version is that it’s not all about the rectus; in fact, in my humble (and note – not formally researched) opinion, but based on many years of working with pregnant and postnatal mums, I have a particular interest in her oblique’s and whether she walks around on a daily basis with them ‘on’. Many women do – in an attempt to ‘appear to have a smaller waist’ we develop patterns of sucking in or bracing our obliques.
As Fitness Professionals this is the perfect time to begin talking to our pregnant mums about seeing a Women’s Health Physio who will help her to learn how to properly switch on through PF and TA, ideally, whilst keeping her oblique’s nice and relaxed.
We can also encourage her to ‘let it hang out’ a little aka “stop sucking her belly in” – the baby has to grow and I believe the more we can help a woman’s body adapt to this process rather than working against it, the more we can possibly help to prevent of a number of postnatal contraindications being more severe.
When we have properly taught our mums to activate their PF and TA and ideally they have been to a WHP to make sure what we have taught them is ‘correct’ in our sessions we can then check in and monitor that she is keeping her oblique’s relaxed through her basic PF and TA breathing exercises and that we are not overloading them during our sessions.
Yes she needs to maintain her mobility but she doesn’t need excess pressure on her linea alba or further shortening of her oblique muscles.
Article written by Jen Dugard for the Summer 2018 Edition of the WNiF Magazine.
If this article has peaked your interest you can learn more either in Jen’s face-to-face or online Safe Return to Exercise course. All face- to-face dates have now been set for 2019 and a very limited number of courses are running. To book into a course, contact me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org or look us up on our updated website www.bodybeyondbaby.com.au.
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