Everyone wants a tight core. But there is way more to it than just aesthetics. Your core muscles are amongst the most important muscles in the body. They play a major role in good posture, stabilizing the spine, and balance – all of which are thrown off during pregnancy.
Pregnancy obviously brings a lot of changes to the body whether its hormone level fluctuations, a growing uterus, enlarged boobs, joint instability, changes to your center of gravity, and so on. When your pregnant belly begins to grow outward, your center of gravity moves with it. Your body will try to adjust, in turn, affecting your posture. Your shoulders might round forward, you might develop an exaggerated curve in your low back, throwing off your entire body alignment. In order to feel your best, you must be mindful of your ABCs:
AKA good posture, it’s a must.
Let’s take it from the top:
Make sure your ears are sitting over your shoulders and your neck is not protruding forward.
Don’t let your shoulders round forward. Think about pulling them back and down.
Make sure your ribs stay right over your pelvis.
When you sit, make sure you are sitting on your sitz bones. If you sit up nice and tall in a chair, you should feel a bone in each cheek pressing into the chair…those are your “sitz” bones. You never want your tailbone tucked underneath you. A tucked tailbone inhibits the glutes and core muscles and puts unnecessary pressure on the low back.
This all might feel like work to you. Because of this, as trainers, we put a huge emphasis on working these postural muscles. Your body will always try to find the easiest and least taxing way to position itself. Don’t give in! It will only weaken your core and create more problems such as back and neck pain.
Seems pretty simple. Well, pregnancy can interfere here especially if your alignment is not on point. Diaphragmatic breathing is essential for reducing discomfort during pregnancy and for returning the core to its proper functioning self postpartum. Lay on your back or sit up tall and take a deep breath with one hand on your stomach and one hand on your ribcage. Feel your belly and ribcage expand. This breathing technique is known to reduce stress and tension as well as reduce the chances of incontinence and diastasis recti.
The four major muscles of the core, AKA the Core 4, that we focus on strengthening are the transverse abdominis, multifidus, diaphragm, and pelvic floor. A lot of fancy names just to say these muscles must work in unison to provide stabilization and control of your movement. If one isn’t working properly, it can have an adverse effect on your alignment and breathing. By building a strong core you can reduce the effects of gravity on your posture, alleviate low back pain, reduce the stretch of the stomach as well as secure your pelvic floor for the increased load (your growing baby!).