Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Flat Tummy...Get It Back Post-Baby
Of course, much of the work behind losing that still-5-months-pregnant look is losing the leftover baby weight, the excess fat sitting on top of the abdominal muscles. However, many women (including myself) lose all of their baby weight but still have a tummy that bulges out...no fat on top, but still sporting that oh so lovely still-5-months pregnant midline physique. Most often, this is caused by a common side effect of pregnancy, called diastis recti. This is when the outer abdominal muscles, the rectus abdominus (a.k.a. the 6-pack abs) split down the middle, cleaving the left side from the right. Unfortunately, there is no way to fix this problem, to glue the two sides back together, without sewing them together in surgery. However, it is not all doom and gloom; there is some good news. By doing some simple exercises on a consistent basis and training yourself to perform traditional ab exercises with some slight modifications, you can SIGNIFICANTLY improve that bulging belly.
I, personally, have worked really hard on my post-baby belly, and I can honestly say that I am happy with the results. I am by no means a perfect specimen (I have many a stretch mark to prove it), but I am absolutely willing to wear a bikini in the summer months when at the pool with my kiddos. There is still a gap running the length between the right and left side of my outer abdominals, but it's not so obvious now, and my tummy does sit down pretty flat now. (I very much wish that I had before and after pictures to post here.)
Try the tips/ exercises below and let me know how long it takes you to see an improvement...I guarantee it won't take long.
#1: SUCK-INS (a.k.a "Basic Breath"): trains/ strengthens your transverse abdominals, those muscles that encircle your organs and lie beneath your 6-pack abs; these are the muscles that suck your tummy in and give you that flat-bellied look
*3-5 x per day, just around the house while you're cooking, sitting, driving, laying in bed, etc., suck your tummy in as far as you can (belly button back to your spine, like you're trying to put your skinniest jeans on) and blow out forcefully at the same time for a count of about 10 seconds (or until you run out of breath). Do 10 reps at a time.
#2: CHANGE THE WAY YOU PERFORM TRADITIONAL AB EXERCISES:
*Make sure that you perform the basic breath technique mentioned above anytime you are working your abdominals. When doing crunches, holding plank, or engaging in any other ab activity, suck your belly button back into your spine, flattening out your tummy as much as you can, while simultaneously blowing out during the work portion of the rep.
#3: PERFORM THE SAHRMANN EXERCISES:
*These exercises were designed by Shirley Sahrmann, a physical therapist specializing in abdominal rehabilitation. They are extremely effective, as they specifically target the areas most affected by the muscular stress and stretch of pregnancy. Click on the link below (scroll down to the bottom of the page) for the step-by-step explanation of these exercises. Follow the directions precisely and progress through the exercises chronologically, moving onto the next exercise only when you can perform the designated number of repetitions without losing proper form. This site is a great resource for more information on the topic. Happy reading!...and Sahrmann exercising!