While this simple exercise will benefit everyone, it will be of particular interest to you if you have recently had a baby or had surgery to the abdominal or pelvic area. Through pregnancy or surgery, our core muscles will have experienced trauma and may not be working optimally. This simple exercise will help you gently retrain your core musculature. I would encourage you to do this as soon as possible after having your baby or post-surgery.
INHALE: through the nose whilst relaxing your abdomen & releasing your pelvic floor
EXHALE: using a ffff sound gently lift your pelvic floor and draw your abdominals in
Place one hand on your lower abdomen to notice the gentle drawing in on your exhale. If you are unsure how to connect to your pelvic floor please see below for further instruction. This exercise can be done lying down in bed to start with. When you are ready progress & perform this exercise:
Level 1 Sitting up / Standing up
Level 2 On Hands & Knees: When you are strong enough, progress to doing this on your hands and knees. Use gravity to release your abdomen fully on the inhale and work against gravity to draw up and in on your exhale.
Level 3 Prone: The next step would be to progress to lying face down on the floor with your hands underneath your forehead. On your inhale use the floor to release your abdomen into, and on your exhale use the floor to draw away from.
Remember to fully release the pelvic floor and abdomen on the inhale and lift up and in on the exhale. Notice how you can control the release of the abdomen and pelvic floor on your inhale and vice versa on the exhale. This control will improve and develop with repetition. This is subtle but transformative work for the core. If you are having any trouble finding activation let your doctor know and book in with an expert.
The pelvic floor musculature can be traumatised during pregnancy or delivery so it’s important to connect with this part of your body straight away. There are three parts of this that needs your attention:
1)Back passage: Place a hand on to your pubic bone. Slowly tighten the muscles around the anus as if to stop from passing wind, then slowly draw the anus up and forward to the back of the pubic bone. Now release down and let and go. Do not engage your buttock muscles, think more internal.
2) Vaginal canal: Slowly tighten the muscles around the vagina and draw up; lifting up level by level. Now release it down through the levels finally letting go of the muscles around the vagina at the end.
3) Urethra passage: Slowly tighten the muscles around the urethra as if to stop your urine flow, and draw up; lifting up level by level. Now release it down through the levels finally letting go of the muscles around the urethra at the end.
Once you have established connection to the above, now try lifting them all together. Imagine the pelvic floor is like an elevator. Start by closing the elevator doors (i.e. the superficial muscles around the urethra, vagina and anus),………now lift the elevator to the first floor, can you hold it there?,……. now lift to the top floor, can you hold it there?.......Now slowly descend down to the first floor, can you hold it there? ……….Now lower it down to the ground floor? Can you keep the doors closed? ………Now open the doors. Keep your buttock muscles and your jaw relaxed throughout.
Exhale as you lift the elevator up and inhale as you let it down. Take some quiet time out for yourself to do this exercise as it requires your full attention. If you find it hard to connect to any part of the pelvic floor, I would encourage you to seek expert help. You deserve it!