PELVIC FLOOR AND CORE EXERCISE PROGRAM - LEVEL ONE

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Correctly laying a firm foundation is paramount to being able to live an active lifestyle.  Taking the time now will enable you to choose the intensity you wish to live life with the knowledge that you are strong from the INSIDE out! #sayYES

Welcome to LEVEL ONE - PELVIC FLOOR AND CORE EXERCISE PROGRAM

Whilst this program focuses on the Pelvic Floor and Deep Inner Core muscles, the exercises are a great place to start your recovery if you also suffer from diastasis recti (abdominal separation). Diastasis recti is the separation of the outer rectus abdominis or '6 pack' muscles that can occur during and even after pregnancy. Pelvic floor exercises can be completed during pregnancy however, this following program does not offer modifications required for pregnancy.



As a Personal Trainer, it is great to be going on this journey with you all. I am excited to be collaborating with Taryn Wilson, founder and owner of FitRight Physiotherapy, so we can let all women no matter where they are build better futures for themselves.  Before we start however, it is important to read and understand some vital information about your Pelvic Floor and Core and those '6 pack' muscles to ensure the best possible results.

* Do NOT over do exercises

The pelvic floor group of muscles should not be 'too tight' as this can cause as many problems as 'not tight' enough - each end of the spectrum has its complications.

I always go back to this reminder when doing Pelvic Floor Exercises"
"doing more repetitions...may encourage either pelvic floor over-activity and trouble releasing properly (which is a more prominent problem that you would think) or muscle fatigue and perhaps compensating with other muscles." - Taryn Watson (FitRight Physiotherapy)
If it says to REST and RECOVER then it is IMPORTANT

* Keep things balanced

When we exercise any part of the body it is important to keep things balanced in order to assist posture and musculoskeletal health - pelvic stability is crucial to this health.  Research shows that strong gluteal muscles are essential to pelvic stability and they also play a part in assisting our pelvic floor and core. (Yes the butt!!! - Gives the saying "laughing your butt off" extra meaning!!).

LEVEL ONE (Foundation) Program

The following Exercise Program has been produced in conjunction with specialist Continence and Women's Health Physiotherapist Taryn Watson.

Whilst there are many different exercises and variations that can be done at each level, to include them all would make this blog post far too long. For the purpose of this blog, exercises have been selected and grouped to create an exercise program where you complete 3 sessions per week. Some of the exercises have deliberately been used in more than one session as this can assist us with the learning and mastery of the positions and movements.

Remember this is not the program to over do things.  For example, if you do other pelvic floor exercises 2-3 times per day cut back to 1-2 times per day on the days you do the following program.

SET UP

  • A.  Pelvic Floor and Core Exercise Program  - 3 sessions per week
  • B.  Instructions and photos for each exercise

***CAUTIONARY NOTES***

Before attempting any of the exercises in this blog please make sure you have read and are completing the exercises from my blog post - "How to find your pelvic floor - My Journey."

Prior to commencing any pelvic floor and core exercises, it is strongly recommended you consult a specialist continence and women's health physiotherapist.  Studies show that 51% of us will not be able to correctly perform a pelvic floor contraction and 25% of us may possibly be bearing down.  If you are unable to, or choose not to have a consultation before commencing be mindful that if you are not seeing any progress or not feeling your pelvic floor engage, STOP, and make the time to seek professional assistance.

As mentioned earlier the following exercises are also beneficial in closing the gap for women suffering from diastasis recti (abdominal separation). Again, if you are not noticing your gap closing over the course of a couple of months, STOP, and see your physiotherapist or other specialist medical practitioner.

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A. Pelvic Floor And Core Exercise Program - 3 x sessions


Muscle Groups Engaged
Session #1
Session #2
Session #3

Neutral Pelvis Position
Neutral Pelvis Position
Neutral Pelvis Position
Pelvic Floor + Lower Abdominals
Knee Openings
Leg Slides
Leg Lifts
Glutes
Bridge
Clam
Bridge or Clam
Pelvic Floor + Lower Abdominals
4 Point Arm/Leg Lifts
4 Point Arm/Leg Lifts
4 Point Arm/Leg Lifts

Stretch
Stretch
Stretch

B. Instructions and Photos of Exercises

Neutral Pelvis Position (on back)

  1. Lie on back. Bend your knees making sure your feet are parallel with one another and hip width apart.
  2. Find your 'neutral pelvis'. You do this by placing your hands on your lower abdomen, with fingertips on your pubic bone and the outside of your hands on your hip bones, and adjust your pelvic position to ensure that your flat hands are level with the floor. 




Pelvic Floor + Lower Abdominals

LEVEL ONE - KNEE OPENINGS
  1. Breathe in and out to prepare. Pause your breathing and lift and squeeze your pelvic floor and draw in your lower abdominal muscles. You can use your hands to feel the lower abdominal muscles activate.
  2. Inhale, then slowly move one knee outwards. Make sure you maintain a neutral pelvis. Use the deep abdominal muscles to keep your pelvis from moving. This is a small movement if you feel your pelvis roll your knee has moved too far.
  3. Exhale as you return the knee to the starting position.
  4. Release your pelvic floor and core, let go of the contraction and relax the muscles.
  • REPEAT 5 - 10 times alternating legs.
LEVEL ONE - HEEL SLIDES

  1. Breathe in and out to prepare. Pause your breathing and lift and squeeze your pelvic floor and draw in your lower abdominal muscles. You can use your hands to feel the lower abdominal muscles activate.
  2. Inhale, then slowly slide the heel along the ground making sure you maintain a neutral pelvis.  As soon as the back arches it is time to return the leg.
  3. Exhale as you return the leg to the starting position.
  4. Release your pelvic floor and core, let go of the contraction and relax the muscles.
  • REPEAT 5 - 10 times alternating legs.
LEVEL ONE - LEG LIFTS

  1. Breathe in and out to prepare. Pause your breathing and lift and squeeze your pelvic floor and draw in your lower abdominal muscles. You can use your hands to feel the lower abdominal muscles activate.
  2. Inhale, then slowly lift one leg off the ground to 90 degrees, making sure you maintain a neutral pelvis.
  3. Exhale as you return the leg to the starting position.
  4. Release your pelvic floor and core, let go of the contraction and relax the muscles.
  • REPEAT 5 - 10 times alternating legs

Glutes

During these exercise there is no need to engage your pelvic floor muscles. 

LEVEL ONE - BRIDGE (Pelvic Tuck and Curl)

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your spine in neutral.  Ensure your knees, ankles, feet, hips, shoulders and pelvis are aligned. Place your arms by your side and keep your feet firmly planted on the floor.
  2. Inhale and engage your abdominal muscles and squeeze your glutes. As you exhale, curl your tailbone off the floor, tilting your pelvis up and lifting your bottom off the ground.
  3. Inhale as you hold this position, and as you exhale lower your spine back onto the floor, one vertebrae at a time. The pelvis should be the last thing to 'untuck'. 
  4. Release your glutes and relax the muscles.
  • REPEAT 5 - 10 times






LEVEL ONE - LYING SIDE CLAM
  1. Lie on your side with your head rested on a small cushion/folded towel. Ensure your hips and shoulders are in a straight line whilst your back maintains its natural curve. Bend your knees behind you so that they are at a right angle to your body. If you would like extra stability - Place your top arm in front of your chest with the hand flat on the floor, fingers pointing towards your head. (Not shown in this photo)
  2. Inhale and squeeze your glutes. 
  3. Exhale, as you lift your top knee away from your bottom knee. If you are aligned correctly it should not open very far.  Similar to trying to open a very tight clam shell. This is a small movement if you feel your pelvis roll your knee has moved too far.
  4. Inhale, as you hold the knees open.
  5. Exhale as you lower the top knee back to the starting position.
  6. Release your glutes and relax the muscles.
  • REPEAT 5 -10 times each side

PELVIC FLOOR + ABDOMINALS

LEVEL ONE - 4 POINT SINGLE ARM LIFT/LEG LIFT
  • SINGLE ARM
  1. Move onto your hands and knees. Ensure that your hands are below your shoulders and your knees are below your hips and that your spine maintains its natural curve. If you find your wrists are uncomfortable with your hands in this position an alternative is to make a fist . (Not shown in this photo)
  2. Breathe in and out to prepare. Pause your breathing and lift and squeeze your pelvic floor and draw in your lower abdominal muscles.
  3. Inhale whilst you move one arm out in front of you. Make sure the pelvis stays neutral and that you are not shifting your
    weight. Exhale to bring it back to the starting position.
  4. Release your pelvic floor and core, let go of the contraction and relax the muscles.
  • REPEAT 5 - 10 times each arm.







  • SINGLE LEG
  1. Stay on hands and knees and breathe in and out to prepare. Pause your breathing and lift and squeeze your pelvic floor and draw in your lower abdominal muscles.
  2. Inhale whilst you extend one leg behind you. Keep the toe in contact withe the ground. Make sure the pelvis stays neutral and that you are not shifting your weight. Exhale to bring it back to the starting position.
  3. Release your pelvic floor and core, let go of the contraction and relax these muscles.
  • REPEAT 5 - 10 times each leg.

STRETCHES

  • PRETZEL GLUTE STRETCH
  1. Lie on your back and bend one leg.
  2. Extend your opposite leg and raise it up.
  3. Put the foot of your bent leg on the knee of your extended leg.
  4. Pull your extended leg towards your chest.
  5. Hold this for 30+ seconds.
  6. Change sides and repeat. 
  • REPEAT 3 times each side



  • STACKED KNEE GLUTE STRETCH
  • (My favourite)
  1. Place your right foot next to your left hip.
  2. Put your left leg on top and try to get the foot around to the opposite hips.
  3. Try to stack your knees on top of each other. If you can't just go as far as you can.
  4. Lean forward and hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Change sides and repeat.
  • REPEAT 3 times each side




  • SEATED FLOOR HAMSTRING STRETCH
  1. Sit on the floor with your left leg extended in front of you and your right leg bent with your foot against your inner thigh.
  2. Lean forward from your hips and reach for your ankle until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 15 seconds.
  3. Change sides and repeat
  • REPEAT 3 times each side

Stretching is an important part of any Exercise Program- For a complete stretching program refer to my Pregnancy & Postpartum Stretching eGuide or Elle Fit Active's Get Bendy eGuide (suitable for those not pregnant or postpartum).

Now that you have the LEVEL ONE  - PELVIC FLOOR AND CORE EXERCISE PROGRAM in your hot little hands be sure to use this program 3 times per week. Feel free to email myself at hello@activewithd.com with any questions regarding the program.

Enjoy 'The Road to a Strong Pelvic Floor and Core' and #sayYES to an active lifestyle!
#thecoretruth #pelvicfloorandcore


With Love 
D
#sayYES
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Always consult a medical professional before commencing any exercise regime. The exercises shown are in no way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!

Joana Wolfhagen said...

Thank you!

Joana Wolfhagen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Emily said...

Thank you for putting this post together. Are you suggesting that the entire programme be completed 3 times a week or that we complete 3 sessions a week (and therefore the entire programme is only conpleted once a week)?

With D said...

Hi Emily,
Great question. This program has been designed to be completed 3 times in a week - one session each time. Hope this helps! Dx

Anonymous said...

Hi D,

I've had a fourth degree tear is it safe for me to complete? I will ask my physio when I go in 2 weeks. Dani

Anonymous said...

Hi! thanks for all the usefull information!! Do you still have abdominal separation? How many did you have √°fter giving birth? How many time did you need yo have a flat belly What would you recommend yo do when having a second baby? Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hi D :) Thanks for posting this info. I was not aware of my separation until i began working out about 4 months pp. I have been doing a circuit routine which includes many ab exercises. Would you recommend me discontinuing the current program I am doing until I can correctly heal my abdominal muscles?
Thanks for what you do!
Traci