03 Oct

Mumma Balance – Core Strength from Bump to Beyond Part 2

Restoring Your Core Beyond Baby

Getting back your old body after having a baby can be hard, let’s be honest, it took 9 months to make that gorgeous baby, give yourself at least 9 fmonths to let your body heal and recover from giving birth!

In the final part of this series, we look at diastasis (that tummy gap) and how you can start to heal yourself from the inside out through breathing, movement and nutrition. It’s never too late to try and heal your core, I’ve had clients 7 years post natal that have seen a significant improvement!

The first milestone to recovery after having your baby is your 6 week check with your GP, they should check that healthwise all is grood, everything is healing and will likely give you the nod to start exercising…However, a word of warning, not all GP’s will do a diastasis tummy check, a prolapse check and even some will tell you that incontinence at this stage is fine and you’ll recover. My sincere advice at this point would be that if anything doesn’t feel right or normal, for instance you are having incontinence issues that are interfering with your daily activities, you have a dragging feeling or nagging low back pain, then seek the help of a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

That Tummy Gap…..Mummy Tummy….Diastasis Recti…..Separation of your abdominal muscles – all names given to the separation of the rectus abdominis muscle where they join at the midline of your tummy (centre of the 6 pack).

diastasis recti images

Many women are either unaware that they have a gap or if they do know, then how to fix it. Unfortunately the problem can be made worse by returning to inappropriate abdominal exercises too early and comes along with additional issues to boot. It’s likely that with a diastasis, you may also have stress incontinence problems (SI), low back pain and poor posture.

Checking for a diastasis can be done quickly by yourself!

  • Lie on your back on the floor, bringing your heels towards your bottom and your knees up.
  • Place one hand behind your neck to support your head.
  • Place the first 3 fingers of your other hand just above your belly button.
  • Lift your head and neck off of the floor into a mini crunch, you should feel your abdominals contracting - as you do so, feel firmly with your fingers for any gap or dip in your tummy.

It’s not just about the width of the gap, but the tension of the tissue along the midline and the depth of the gap.

Exercises to avoid…and what to do instead

Firstly you must understand that with any gap, there is a leak of energy and the greater potential for dysfunction ‘the lack ability to transfer load at the abdominal wall can also go hand-in-hand with a leaky pelvic floor and incontinence issues especially in the client who has given birth’ (Burrell Education). It’s also key to understand that  a diastasis and weak core can have effects on the whole body and an approach to healing the body as a whole should be taken.

Things to avoid include all high intensity abdominal exercises such as

  • Full sit ups & crunches
  • Planks – front & side
  • Russian & medball twists
  • Straight leg lifts (lying on the floor)

Also, full body movements that a weak core cannot handle such as

  • Burpees
  • Press ups from the floor
  • Pull ups (especially CrossFit style kipping ones!)
  • Heavy squats / Deadlifts
  • Heavy strict overhead work

Instead try exercises which integrate movement with your deep abdominal muscles, adding in the breath (see part 1 of this series) to activate your Transverse Abdominus and pelvic floor muscles.

  • Glute bridges, rolling up vertebrae by vertebrae, keeping tension in your core – add in some arm raises for a bit more of a challenge
  • Straight arm pull downs – using a resistance band over the top of a door, exhale as you pull the bad downwards towards your hips – to up the difficulty, stand with your weight in one leg…you could even try closing your eyes!
  • Bird dog – this is where you are on all fours, raising your opposite arm & leg together, keeping your hips, back and shoulders stable – start with just your arms, then try just your legs, finally combining both together.
  • Simple squats – exhale as you raise yourself back to standing

You could also try the exercises suggested in part 1 of this series, they are all core safe when pregnant, also with a diastasis.

Healing your diastasis will take time, please don’t rush in and think that doing a 500 crunch challenge or 30 day plank challenge will help – it’s likelvy that you could end up making your diastasis worse or injuring yourself in the process. If in doubt, please seek professional advice from a Women’s Health Physio or Holistic Core Restore ® Coach

For more information on this programme and how it could help you, check out my Holistic Core Restore® Diastasis Healing page

03 Oct

Mumma Balance – Core Strength from Bump to Beyond Part 1

Bump

Congratulations! You're pregnant! So much to think about, the birth, feeding, names, sleep….what about your core strength? How do you ensure you keep your core safe, strong and maintain it throughout your pregnancy?

Firstly, let’s take a look at what we mean by core, this simple image below shows the 4 main elements of your core. Working your abdominal muscles in isolation isn’t the most effective way to strengthen your core; they need to work alongside all the connective tissues and muscles to work most effectively. A strong back and strong (but not tight!!) pelvic floor all contribute to your core supporting you throughout and beyond your pregnancy.

Pelvic floor I hear you say? Kegels? Well….yes, but not in isolation. Essential to initially connect to your pelvic floor, and also in those first few weeks after delivery…but if they worked in isolation, we wouldn’t need those special pads during pregnancy #2, when baby is 2, when we sneeze, cough, run, walk and (heaven forbid…) shout at the kids! Keeping your pelvic floor strong in those 9 months will ultimately help in your recovery & reconnection once baby arrives.

So….how do we do this…. From your 2nd trimester, so about 12 weeks, your bump is starting to show, and you are feeling more like you want to exercise, start by concentrating on your posture, breathing, your TVA (transverse abdominal muscle) and pelvic floor is key.

What are the exercises you could be doing to aid the birthing process and keep you healthy throughout pregnancy? An essential piece of kit is the resistance band – for glute work, added resistance in squats, activating your core in a banded bicep curl and cross body banded work. Include a variety of squats & lunges, upper body stretches and openers. Try some of these…

• Glute band walks

• Banded squat

• Wall (supported) press up

• Single leg sits to a box

• Bicep curls – try & connect to your pelvic floor, exhaling on the squeeze up

• Banded deadlifts

• Banded pull apart (scapular retraction) – maybe with a squat or alternate lunge

• Cross body banded pull – from waist to opposite overhead

Finally, learn to relax & get mobile – relax your core, relax your pelvic floor – yes, it needs to be strong, but you also need to be able to relax your pelvic floor – the baby has to come out! Try a few of these to help

• Deep unweighted squats

• Figure of 8 hip rotations

• Wide child pose

• Pigeon pose

• Standing Cat / Cow

• Legs up the wall pose – lie flat or slightly elevated if uncomfortable, with legs resting straight up the wall

Most of all, eat well, exercise carefully and enjoy your pregnancy. Find a trainer that can help engage your core, your breathing, functional movement & life balance. #whatsyourbalance

Have a look at my Holistic Core Restore® Bump page for more information on the services I offer for Pre-Natal ladies

Mumma Balance Core Pregnancy Exercises

26 Nov

3 for £10…yumminess

yumminess chicken image

Having a husband who pops to Waitrose on a Saturday morning post gym,  is great! He grabs his coffee, a 3 for £10 meat deal and presents them to me. We have 3 chickens! Yay!

…. Now… What to do differently with 3 whole chickens, in a family where dds latest whinge is… “… But we always have chicken..!” and do proclaims… “I hate chicken!”

So… One roasted for a Saturday roast with lots of green veg,  one slow cooker with leftover chicken stock,  on a bed of cherry tomatoes ND peppers, topped with Cajun spices….. The third?
Well I’ve left it til tonight for this delight…. Out comes the slow cooker again… I’m sooo in love with my slow cooker at the moment…. It’s just a tad small (Xmas list..? ?). So, I squish and squash my whole chicken in. This time remembering to cut off the parsons nose. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil and then rub in turmeric (2 tsp) ,  cumin seeds (1 tsp) & hot chilli powder (1/2 tsp), add in about 75 ml of water, a handful of raisins and whole almonds. Pop the lid on and set to auto. Breathe…..

Go to the chiropractor (bliss, but thought he’d pulled my actual arm off!), pop to Waitrose for a coffee and pick up pizza &  gluten free pizza as visiting friends,  pick up kids from school, go to friends,  get kids faces painted,  feed kids pizza,  go swimming, come home, feed kids post swim pudding.  Phew!

Open my new found love and inhale the deliciousness of my creation. Prod it. Decide it’s cooked. Yay! Attempt 3-4 photos, before the one above….. Now…. To wait til kids are in bed and devour…. Serve with leafy greens or broccoli…. Breathe and relax….

02 Nov

Squats and the wibbly knee

So you’re trying to achieve the perfect squats. Squatting. Heavy….for a girl.

You have the bar in place, you have the plates loaded. You breathe in as you go down, brace your core, nearly get there…..and your knee caves in. Damn that knee. You Nearly had your PB. Again. Sound familiar?

So what causes these imperfect squats and what can you do to correct it?q-angle affecting squats and knees

More prevalent in us girls, we have the problem of wider hips. Wider hips and a larger Q-Angle. Unfortunately, it’s anatomy.

Problems can be exacerbated by weaknesses in hip abductors and external rotators, glutes, hamstrings, ITB tightness, over pronation and also…bad habit!

So how can we start to correct these imperfect squats?

Strengthening and stretching, with a bit of foam roller added in for good measure. Use a mirror. No…not to check your makeup, but to watch your form. Get a massage. No, not a relaxing lovely smelling one, a sports therapy treatment. (Emily Campbell at Priority 6 is great for Oxford locals!)

Work on single leg squats, especially on your weaker side. Start the day with some glute band walks and stretch and roller that tightness out of your ITB. Add in hamstring curls and single leg kettlebells deadlifts.

Start over with your technique. Do a week of squatting technique, low weight. As you come up from your squats, concentrate on exhaling (connecting to that PF) and pushing your knees out.

Get fixed. Get heavy. Get lifting.

 

22 Oct

Butt Wink & The Pelvic Fairy

So I just posted something on Butt Winking on my Facebook page, basically your tushi dropping under when you squat, your back rounding not giving you the depth you need for ass to grass squatting and putting you at higher risk for injury.

Now, as pointed out in the article, this could be caused by physical restrictions in your joints, lack of mobility and also lack of coordination through your deep core stabilisation muscles – your diaphragm, multifidus, TVA  and of course your PELVIC FLOOR! Yes, your diaphragm and pelvic floor act as the top and bottom to your core, what I like to think of as your internal canister.

Imagine a coke can (heaven forbid!). If you press down hard on it, it’s pretty sturdy, right? Now imagine that can has a weakness somewhere, either in the bottom or the sides – what happens if you put pressure on the can? Typically it will leak out from this weakness. You get what I’m talking about…right? What happens to the sides? They crumple. The internal pressure is gone. The same goes for your diaphragm, tightness can lead to you not being able to maintain the pressure within your ‘cannister’. A diaphragm release can help with your breathing and ultimately, your squats.

So think of this can as your core. Core CannisterAny weakness will prevent you from performing to your maximum potential. How can you squat your PB when the muscles needed to support you are not working together properly? Train your deep core muscles from the inside out. If you’re post natal (doesn’t matter how old your babies are!) get your tummy checked for diastasis (weak midline & tummy gap = loss of energy & pressure).

Strengthening those deep layers of your core will ultimately strengthen your pelvic floor, also helping in all other aspects of functional life – running (for the bus, after the kids), sneezing (winter is coming!), heavy lifting (deadlifts, squats…), high impact exercise (dare I say…Zumba, skipping, burpees, box jumps, etc), managing kids (you know…when you shout so hard a little bit of wee comes out…)

Find a trainer that can help engage your core, your breathing, functional movement & life balance.

Get fixed. Get strong. Get lifting!

13 Oct

Leftovers

Tonight’s delight is a quickly thrown together,  yet delicious, spicy coconut chicken soup!

image

In a pan, put 1 can coconut milk,  about 200ml leftover homemade chicken gravy (or stock), plenty of leftover roasted chicken, a handful of ’round green’  beans, 1/2 finely chopped fennel,  2 tsp coriander &  2 tsp (to taste) of hot chili powder. Bring to the boil &  simmer for about 5 minutes. Add rice noodles if you need some carbs, you can also add any other veg –  ribbon carrots, courgettes, broccoli, etc

Enjoy whilst hot, with a large napkin!

11 Oct

What Does It Mean When You Have A Gap in Your Abs aka A ‘Distension’ or ‘Diastasis’?

What Does It Mean When You Have A Gap in Your Abs aka A ‘Distension’ or ‘Diastasis’?

A fabulous insight into what could be causing your post birth mummy tummy, courtesy of © Burrell Education 2012

Adapted from Primal Pictures, 2003. Reprinted with permission.

Diastasis 2

  1. The stretching of your midline tissues (Diastasis/Distension) is totally normal during and Pregnancy and its return to your pre-pregnancy tension and position is unique to every woman. In general, the tissue regains tension and the two bellies of the Rectus Abdominis (Six-Pack muscles) regain their proximity.
  2. If your midline is weak and your abdominals are separated (you can get your fingers into the gap between the two lengths of muscle) and the tissue feels slack and papery you must take care to avoid as many situations as possible where extra pressure can develop and further. Pressure against these weakened tissues will have a detrimental effect on the healing and closure of this separation. Traditional abdominal exercises (sit-ups) are not appropriate.
  3. Get advice and a restorative programme from a practitioner who specializes in restoring the core with a Diastasis/Distension.
  4. Use the ‘Good Abdominal Care Practices’ when getting up and getting down from the ground and out of bed.
  5. Have faith that you can be helped. Your condition can improve and abdominals can be restored back to good strength, function and can look great again!

We have worked with many post natal and never too late natal ladies with a diastasis, check out our Facebook page for photos of great work that our ladies have done!

Diastasis client, week 1, week 3 & week 9

Diastasis client – week 1, week 3 & week 9

Week 1, week 3 & week 10

Diastasis Client – Week 1, week 3 & week 10

06 Oct

Blast from the past….part 2

Ok….so I measured (click here for part 1)….so overall? I’m 5 inches smaller, not a lot, not bad over 16 years though, 2 children, etc, etc…

I am however, also 15% less bodyfat, I gained an inch on each bicep (not like Briggs though), my knees also got skinnier. Result! At least I no longer have fat knees! Hamstrings though? I still hold something there to be worked on!

The reason for this post? Getting older and having children doesn’t mean you have to be unfit. It’s all about balancing your family, work, healthy eating.  You don’t have to spend hours in the gym, even 20 minutes 3 times a week is a start – and get that strength training in!

I’m fitter now than I was 2 years ago (thanks to Crossfit at  Priority 6), when I was running a half marathon for fun – my knees were screaming at me, my back and pelvis constantly out of alignment – some people (including me!) are not made for running. Now? I lift heavy, I do high intensity short workouts,(never more than 40 minutes – and that’s a long one!) and do lots of intensive core work – the same as I teach my Core Restore clients.

Make time for yourself. A 20 minute bodyweight circuit you can do at home is a start! Get a workout timer on your phone, set it to 40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest to start with, 8 rounds – try a combination of these exercises at home – it will take you 8 minutes. 8 MINUTES!!! THAT IS ALL!!!

  • Squats to a chair or lower if you are comfortable doing this (depending on your current level of fitness)
  • Press ups on the floor – knees down if you need it, lower yourself all the way to the floor, press your chest back up, lift your knees up into a plank position
  • Tricep dips on a chair
  • Alternate leg lunges

Take some supplements! Firstly – make sure you are taking a good quality Omega 3 supplement, I use Alimenent Nutrition for mine, also a super greens drink, such as Priority Greens

Let me know how you get on! Look out for more workouts that you can do at home….

01 Oct

Tonight’s delight!

Ok, so in the fridge… at 8pm (so prepared) is pork mince and lots of choppable /grateable veg

Into 1 hot pan, put in 400g pork mince, grate 1 medium sweet potato,  chop 1 yellow bell pepper, handful of roughly chopped mushrooms, tin of tomatoes and a variety of spices (I used my taco mix blend). Simmer for around 15 mins  then add 1 grated courgette and dinner for another 5/10 mins

Serve in a bowl, hubby will probably stuff a wrap with the yummy mix and I’ll have it in its own. Left overs for tomorrows post workout lunch! Done!

No idea what to call this…. Ideas in comments please!

image

30 Sep

Blast from the past…

personal balance photo

Well…1999 to be exact, the year we were supposed to party, I was your average 20 something year old, gym member with a cloned programme, slave to my desk and cardio hater. To get my mum moving too, we joined the toning tables area of my gym. Yes. Tables that tone I hear you say? Indeed… Apparently by laying on a moving couch, you lose inches. What could be easier? Brilliant for my mum, in terms of getting joints moving…but inch loss…purrrllleeeease! At around 30% body fat, surely I needed (small!) miracle?

  
Anyway, the actual blast from the past was a slip of paper that had all my measurements written on. Which I’d updated. In 1999 several times. 3″ lost! Whoopie! That would be water retention then, or time of the month. Then in 2000 & 2003. So I thought, what the heck, let’s measure in 2015. I’m now a 40 something mum of 2 mischief makers, wife, crossfitter, personal trainer and women’s holistic core restore coach.

Best get me a tape measure then….!