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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 7:14 pm 
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What are recommended exercise routines for post pregnant women who have some separation of the abdominal muscles? My pregnancy was trouble free, same with my delivery, and I plan on breastfeeding for the first year. It's been 2 weeks since I delivered and I'm ready to start up my exercise routine, however my doctor cautioned me that I could prevent my stomach muscles from flattening if I begin doing exercises too early. Could someone explain the condition of ab. separation and proper exercise techniques which allow for proper healing in the abdomen.

I do not think I have the condition, but I do feel that the muscles in my abdomen are stretched/weakened. I also want to strengthen my back as I have developed a bad habit of poor posture from the extra weight in my chest and stomach region.

I'm 5' 1", 153 lbs, 25-28% body fat, strong muscle tone, but carrying excess fat. (Not gained in the pregnancy) I'd like to get back to my normal healthy weight of 120-125 lbs. First priority is to tighten my core muscles, then begin an overall weight and a cardiovascular routine as part of my workout.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:21 pm 
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First question, and this is very important, Was this natural or a c-section delivery? If natural you can follow the advice I give now. If it was a c-section, you need to wait 4 more weeks before doing anything.

Your doctor is absolutely right. Doing typical exercises will make your problem MUCH worse. Do NOT do any standard exercises right now.

Abdominal separation is when the left and right side of the rectus abdominis become separated from the uterus pushing out. The rectus and the obliques control all your abdominal movement. Then there is the transverse abdominis Which really just holds your guts in. This internal abdominal wall is what you need to strengthen first! This is what will flatten your belly out. Working the other ab muscles will just pull it out more.

The exercise you want to do is called a stomach vacuum. Sit up straight exhale all your up let your chest expand and suck in your stomach as much as you can. Visualize your belly button going all the way back to your spine. Hold it for 20 seconds. Then breath for a minute and do it again. Start with 3 sets of 20 seconds every day the first week and just slowly work your way up to 5 sets of 40 seconds or however long you can comfortabley hold your breath.

I want you to do that for at least 3 if not 4 weeks before doing anything else. Even after that time do at least 3 sets every other day or so.

After 3 or 4 weeks of only vacuums, start doing something that works the abs indirectly by making them contract, but not actually move.
First do your arm and shoulder exercises standing, maybe even do 1 arm at a time. Try doing some body weight squats, just body weight, do not add any weight to these yet. Concentrate on keeping your stomach in and tight, don't let it hang out. Then do a kneeling stability ball roll out. Here is a link on how to do that.

http://www.trainwithmeonline.com/exercisenum.asp?exn=9

You also want to walk with good posture, don't let your gut hang out. These exercises will get your lower back a bit too. Just don't do anything that involves bending at the waist and hips yet.

After 4 or maybe even 6 more weeks just to be on the safe side, you should be able to do deadlift variations, add weight to squats and do weighted situps and all that stuff just like before.

As for cardio, the first or 4 weeks while you are doing vacuums, you should stick with walking or maybe light swimming. after that anything goes within reason.

Also remember your nutritional needs are still going to be pretty high if your baby is going to be getting only breast milk for a while. I would think loosing weight real slow and not doing anything crazy with your diet would be best.

Here is a link to site I got from a search that has a test for abdominal separation, but irregardless of results, work the transverse abdominis first.
http://www.befitmom.com/abdominal_seperation.html

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any questions.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:25 am 
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Thanks for the quick response.....I had a vaginal delivery and there were no complications from it.

Please clarify this part of the instructions for stomach vacuum:

"Sit up straight exhale all your up let your chest expand and suck in your stomach as much as you can. Visualize your belly button going all the way back to your spine. "

The rest of the information is clear and I appreciate all the information you have shared with me.

I'll pass the exercise along to my doc so it can be given to other women.

Thanks again!


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 1:42 pm 
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Oops, it looks like a missed the word "air".

You can just sit up straight in your chair. You exhale your air out of your lungs and suck in your stomach as far as you can. It's kind of like when you want to get into a tight pair of pants. Your chest will puff out a little and you just visualize the inside of your belly going all the way back to your spine. Although obviously that doesn't really happen. You suck in your belly as far as you can. Then hold it for 20 seconds. Then let it out and breath for a minute or 2 and repeat. Start with 3 at 20 seconds. do it everyday, and work up to 5 at 40 seconds or however long you can hold your breath comfortably.

Here is a link. This is more in a bodybuilding context, but the directions on preforming it are the same for your case.
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ms-fit5.htm

The part after the 3 or 4 weeks of just vacuums may not be ok for every woman. Some woman may be too fat to do bodyweight squats or swiss ball roll outs. They can do standing arm and shoulder exercises though. I'm sure the doctor can look it over and use his/her discretion though. Some woman may not want to work out anyway. They should all build up their transverse abdominis though, in order to pull their rectus back into place/shape, hold their organs in properly and flatten the belly.


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