Post natal exercises to do safely at home

Core and pelvic floor system is even loved by the singer P!NK who used it for her post childbirth exercise routine

Grammy winning global artist P!NK took to Instagram Live alongside her Hollywood trainer Jeanette Jenkins to do a live workout session aimed at strengthening the core abdomen muscles, as it was revealed she used exercises from the MUTU System programme. Streaming a high intensity workout live to P!NK’s 7.9 million followers, renowned trainer Jeanette Jenkins said that the online exercise programme for mothers, MUTU System , was used as part of her workout plan for the American singer/songwriter mum in the aftermath of childbirth, helping her to rebuild her core strength.

Jeanette has also trained Alicia Keys, Mindy Kaling and Serena Williams. Jeanette, whose Instagram accounts are @MsJeanetteJenkins and @Hollywoodtrainerclub is a long-term supporter of the postpartum techniques used in the MUTU System Programme. 

Speaking during the workout, P!NK explained how hard it was for her to first engage with her core muscles post childbirth: “Do you remember how upset I used to get after I had my babies? This was the hardest thing for me to do after childbirth. I used to cry, I would get so mad!”, said P!NK.

MUTU System Founder Wendy Powell says this is not uncommon, “For women, childbirth is one of the most naturally beautiful things that we can experience, bringing life into this world. But it’s also something which takes an incredible toll on our bodies and often leaves us feeling powerless, and completely alienated from our bodies. It’s not uncommon for women to struggle engaging their core muscles post childbirth – and this brings about great frustration and torment. This is why we do what we do, to reconnect women with their bodies. Women just like P!NK can use our exercises to rebuild their core strength to get back to doing high intensity activity”.

MUTU System is a 12-module specialist core and pelvic floor online programme for over 65,000 mothers in over 150 countries around the world – young and old, expectant and established, of all shapes and sizes – to help rebuild core body strength and remedy physical symptoms such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, painful sex and diastasis recti. 

Here are some tips to help you find your Transverse Abdominis (TVA) and engage your core muscles:

Sucking in your stomach is not engaging your core

It’s merely shifting pressure and mass upwards or downwards.

How do you engage your TVA?

Exhale, GENTLY drawing your belly button back at the same time as gently drawing your pelvic floor upwards. Your abs are drawing gently inwards, but not pulling in hard. Both transverse abdominis and pelvic floor are part of your core and they work together. Making an ‘Ssssss’ sound as you exhale may help you find the right deep abdominal muscles. For the pelvic floor part… imagine picking up a grape with your vagina… weird. But it works. Inhale as you relax the muscles, engage again on the next exhale. So you’re working the muscles on the exhale, relaxing on the inhale. If you watch side on in a mirror, this shows as a very slight movement of the lower abs.

Positioning

The spine is neutral, your chest should not thrust out – so lower ribs stay back, stacked directly over ASIS (the hip bone bits that stick out at the front), stacked over the pubic bone. You don’t hold your breath. Your shoulders don’t tense and very importantly, your tailbone or backside doesn’t tuck underneath you. When you isolate your TVA muscle and engage it, you should not see movement anywhere else in your body. You could be lying on your back, on all fours, sitting or standing, but the same indicators apply – your spine should be in neutral alignment: lower ribs over ASIS, ASIS on the same vertical plane over the pubic bone. If your butt tucks under, if you suck it all in, hold your breath, thrust, tense or hunch anything else… that’s not isolating your TVA. Correct alignment is VITAL to making this work.

How do you know if you are engaging your core correctly?

Place your hands on your hip bones and move your fingers slightly inwards and downwards from there, where it is soft. When you engage your TVA, you will feel a tensing of the broad flat muscle under the pads of your fingers. If your stomach pooches or pushes outwards, if you’re holding your breath or anything is pushing away, then you’re working the outer abdominal muscles and TVA isn’t doing its thing.

Isolating the TVA

This is a necessary first stage of achieving a functioning core because you need to reconnect with it if you’re going to work with it. But it is only the first stage. You don’t have to carry on doing TVA isolation exercises. You have to find it. You have to reconnect the brain to the muscle and make it work right. But to really work, to really function, the TVA is only one part (a very important part, but one part all the same) of your core system of muscles. These include your diaphragm, pelvic floor and the multifidus of your spine. Your stabilizing muscles that are utterly vital to your body working right. You find them, you figure out how to make them work on their own, then you teach the whole system to work every time you move.

Now I have found it, shoud I ‘engage’ it the whole time?

No! The core muscular system’s function is to stabilise your body without you consciously contracting it every time. You need to connect, to isolate, in order to find and retrain it – you do NOT have to hold it in the whole time. You definitely don’t suck it in hard (see no.1). Hypertonic muscles are too tight – weak and tight. A constantly contracted muscle is absolutely not a strong one. So let your abs go! You need to untuck your backside and allow your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles to work through their full range of movement, to help your body find it’s neutral, optimally functional alignment – and to do this the relaxing and stretching parts are every bit as important as the contracting part

For more details on MUTU System, visit the website visit

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