We often think that our body has fully recovered when areas such as our perineum and C-section heal, or when symptoms such as hair loss and vaginal bleeding clear up. However, the stress and stretch of pregnancy travel much deeper into our body than we may realize. Two areas that significantly weaken after childbirth are our Core and the Pelvic floor often leading to common postpartum conditions such as Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA) and Incontinence.
The Core and Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA)
Diastasis Recti Abdominis occurs when the left and right abdominal muscles separate to form a gap larger than 2.7cm, forming an appearance of a bulging belly. A common postnatal condition caused primarily by uterus expansion, it is closely linked with a weakened core and can lead to more severe conditions in the long run.
Core-specific exercises are very effective in reducing DRA. Research has revealed that when performed in the antenatal period, DRA is reduced by 35%. Having a core-specific program during both the ante and postnatal periods may also reduce DRA width.
Here, Orchard Clinic shares with us three core-specific exercises to combat DRA!
- Dead Bug
Good For: Correcting anterior pelvic tilt, Improving core stability and Strengthening gluteal and spinal erector muscles.
- Lie on your back and extend your arms and legs. Bend your legs such that your shins are parallel with the floor. Align the knees above the hips and the arms over your shoulders.
- Maintaining contact between the floor and your lower back, extend your right leg and left arm toward the floor.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Side Plank
Good for: Strengthening the oblique muscles.
- Lie on one side with your hand on the floor beneath your shoulder. Stack the hips and extend your top arm towards the ceiling or place it on your hip.
- Keeping the feet flexed and stacked, lift your hips off the mat so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Reverse Plank
Good for: Core strength and stability.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended before you. Place your palms with fingers spread wide behind your hips.
- Engaging your abdominal muscles, slowly press into your palms and lift your hips and torso up. Try to point your toes and keep your arms and legs straight, forming a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
The Pelvic Floor and Incontinence
Incontinence refers to an involuntary leakage of urine which can become more pronounced through actions such as coughing, sneezing or jumping. Postpartum females are especially vulnerable to this condition given the stress of pregnancy and childbirth.
Research investigating PFM has found that PFM-specific exercises performed for at least 8 weeks during pregnancy and after delivery can prevent and treat incontinence.
Orchard Clinic shares with us three PFM-strengthening exercises to try at home!
- Bridge Pose
Good for: Increasing strength in the gluteal and pelvic floor muscles, Improving core strength and stability and Stretching the neck, spine and thighs.
- Lie on the back with your knees bent and heels close to your glutes.
- Tuck your pelvis under as you lift your hips and contract the gluteal muscles and rectus abdominis.
- Imagine tilting your pelvis up and back toward an imaginary point behind your head. Lengthen the tailbone toward the back of the knees.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Reclined Butterfly Pose with Kegels
Good for: Stretching the inner thighs, groins, and knees. Increasing strength and awareness in the pelvic floor.
- Lay down on the mat and bring the soles of your feet to touch. Rest the arms to the sides, on the hips or on the chest and belly.
- As you exhale, close the knees together and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, as if to stop urinating. Hold for up to 15 seconds, then release the legs and pelvic floor contraction for 10 seconds.
- Repeat this for at least 5 times and try to hold the contraction for longer periods as you progress.
- Wall Squat
Good for: Increasing strength in the core and quadriceps.
- Stand with your back against the wall and your feet hip-width distance.
- Slowly walk your feet away from the wall and lower your hips until the thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds (or more).
One way technology has assisted with fast and effective postpartum recovery is through the use of HIFEM Technology to enable supramaximal muscle contractions and positively influence human tissue. This effectively reconstructs and re-educates muscles at a physically-impossible level, forming greater muscle memory for long lasting results.
Orchard Clinic is a specialised centre for postpartum recovery and uses high quality, FDA-approved machines. Treatment for Diastasis Recti is now faster and more effective, using medical devices to achieve improved core stability and to close up the DRA gap. To treat PFM weakness and Incontinence, Emsella rapidly strengthens the pelvic floor and Exilis Ultra Femme strengthens the vaginal canal walls to treat stress incontinence and enables vaginal rejuvenation.
For a complete treatment, machine therapy is combined with one-to-one guided and customized floorwork exercises.
If you are interested in having a custom treatment plan designed for you at Orchard Clinic, feel free to speak with us!
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Orchard Clinic is a specialised centre for Postnatal and Postpartum conditions, helping clients achieve healthy and pain-free lifestyles.