My bub is 10 months old, and I am madly racing after him. Would love some simple/ quick exercises that i could fit into my day to help me get my belly strength back please
Thanks for your question and yes, you need lots of energy to keep up with an active toddler! I’ve answered your question in three parts, but it’s worth remembering it’s better to work gradually and slowly rather than to do too much too soon.
Tone the abs
One simple way to tone the abdominals, is to sit comfortably with your spine straight and then place one hand on your belly and as you exhale, gently draw the navel towards your spine. Hold for a breath, release and repeat.
As you hold the contraction, you can feel the abdominal muscles tighten and then release as you exhale. Make sure you keep your shoulders, jaw and face relaxed throughout this practice.
With regular practice, you will get used to drawing your navel to your spine as this works the transverse abdominus, which is the deepest layer of the abdominal wall. And this action will also help to protect your lower back. Get into the habit of doing this when picking up your toddler and when you are dashing around after them, as it will also help you to be more aware of your posture.
There are lots of other exercises you can do, but first make sure you don’t have abdominal muscle separation, it is unlikely ten months post-partum, but it’s always a good idea to know how to check this.
How to check for abdominal separation:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Now tuck in your chin and place your index and middle finger just below your belly button.
Slowly engage your abdominal muscles by taking your navel to your spine and lift your head as if you are about to do a small sit-up, while you are doing this, move your fingers slowly from side-to-side. Ideally you should be able to feel a gap of about the width of two fingers. If the gap is any wider than this you may have abdominal separation.
If you are at all concerned, see your doctor
If that is fine, then begin with this exercise…
Lie on your back and extend your legs 90 degrees, draw back on your toes, relax your shoulders and make sure your tailbone is on the ground.
Place your hands beside you, palms down, then put one hand on your belly so you can feel your abdominal muscles working.
Even holding this position requires the abdominals to work, so if this is enough for you then simply stay in this position, rest back in Savansana when you need to.
If you wish to challenge yourself further, slowly rotate the legs, keeping your feet flexed and your legs straight, ensuring your lower back remains supported on the floor. Keep your breath flowing.
Do small circles one way and then small circles in the other direction. Either continue with the small circles, or begin to do slowly increase the size of the circles first one way and then the other.
The larger the circle, the more challenging for your abdominals, so build up gradually and always work within your comfort zone.
When you are ready to come out, release your legs and lie in Savasana, with your legs about hip distance apart and gently turned out, your arms a little way from your hips, palms facing up.
There are more exercises you can do to help further strengthen your abs, but give these a go and then come back to me if you need any more exercises or advice.
I also have a DVD – Yoga for mums ‘n’ bubs which includes the routine: Essential Exercises for new mums. You can find details on my website www.yogababes.com.au.
Good luck! Katie