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You don’t have to live in fear,

pain or discomfort anymore

With Restore Your Core®, you can reshape your belly, stabilize your pelvic floor, and get back to the confident + active lifestyle you always loved.

Restore Your Core Promotion

How to Strengthen Your Core

5 min

Core exercises and workouts help strengthen the muscles in your abdomen, back, and your pelvic floor. In many cases, working out core muscles may aid in your ability to do physical activities, restore damaged muscle groups, and aid in load and weight lifting. However, there are many fitness gurus and exercise routines that encourage unhelpful and potentially damaging core exercises.

One of the scenarios I run into many times with my clients is that they are encouraged to build core strength through navel to spine exercises. They are taught that in order to fully engage in fitness culture, they must try to achieve a flat belly or toned abs in order to be healthy. That cannot be any further from the truth.

This is the heart of what I teach in the Restore Your Core program: navel to spine does not work. Arbitrarily pulling our navel in, tightening the core to do exercise does not rewire, re-pattern, remind our bodies of what they need to do all day long. And if you are working out 1-2 hours a day and doing a lot of navel to spine but then the other 12 hours a day of waking time, your core is not reflexively doing its job – then those 2 hours on the mat are not useful.

In this article, we seek to address the proper way to pursue a strong core rather than doesn't sacrifice function for sexiness.

How Long Does it Take to Restore Your Core?

I wish I had an insta solution for addressing Diastasis Recti, but unfortunately, I do not. Getting a functional core is a process that involves many things including alignment, breathing mechanics and finally, the right way to train using exercise. The whole goal is to train your body to react and respond appropriately to your movements and activities. (Restore Your Core program is based on this approach.)

Effective Core Exercises & Training

  • Ensure you are not a belly breather. Belly breathing causes a lot of intra abdominal pressure and that can lead to a diastasis recti and pelvic floor dysfunction.
  • Work on your posture and body alignment as both compromise your core.
  • Stop sucking in your belly all day because that does not work.

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Here is an alternate way to practice core engagement that doesn’t suck, suck, suck your belly in and it actually works. Try it:

Come to your hands and knees. Ensure that your spine has neutral curves: lower back has a slight   arch and upper back is slightly rounded. Booty untucked gently. Look between your hands and imagine you have a cake between them with 100 candles. Inhale and exhale to slowly blow all 100 candles out. You should feel your belly lift away from the floor and tighten. That is your deep core.

Do the same thing sitting. Sit comfortably with a neutral spine. Imagine now you are blowing out a dandelion. Slowly exhale and feel how your core responds. Amazingly, these simple exercises are key to effective core training.

The next step is to get more and more complicated with the exercises so that each time your body needs support of your core – that exhale will direct the support mechanism to engage. The more you do that, again and again, and the harder and more progressive the exercises – the more reflexive your core will be. Your reflexive core will kick in for you for all of your activities because your deep internal support system will be back online.

How Do You Gently Strengthen Your Core?

A healthy body with a closed diastasis recti does not equal flat abs or lack of body fat. I never, ever try to sell flat abs with my programs. Some of my clients who are healed are functional but have a belly. With a diastasis recti the entire muscle system of the core is affected. This can also affect digestion which can, in turn, affect other systems. A realistic healing process is one which takes time … and then some more time.

Connective tissue heals super slowly and each body presents itself differently. What works for some may not be a guaranteed approach for others. The confusing part of the healing process is that some women who have a lot more belly fat can close their diastasis recti and the result is a functional and slim belly with flat abs; while some women who have little to no belly fat with a diastasis recti end the program with a functional core, but with a belly.

  • A functional and strong core that aids in your everyday movement
  • Having proper core loading strategies that encourage your whole body to take part in healing and getting stronger
  • Getting a functional core which includes bettering body alignment, breathing mechanics, and correct training in exercise.
  • Possibly diet modification because a diastasis can affect your digestion of certain foods causing an intolerance (I’m not a dietician, so I recommend consulting one if you’re having trouble with various foods).
  • Adding more load to your workouts in the form of heavier weights or more advanced movements to get you even stronger and more able.
  • And, finally, ditching flat belly culture and embracing a mindset that doesn’t fear movement or hold onto unhealthy expectations of outcomes and results.

How Can I Strengthen My Core Muscles at Home?

Core Exercises

Below are a few exercises I address in my program. These exercises may help encourage core strength, relieve symptoms of diastasis recti and pelvic floor prolapse. Core strength exercises can also help relieve symptoms of lower back pain, urinary incontinence, compromised core muscles, and help you get back into your daily regimen without compromise.

Seated Side Bend:

Sit comfortably. Possibly on a block or some pillows. Hold a yoga strap or belt overhead. Bend your elbows slightly to take the stress off of your neck and shoulders. Exhale, blow candles, tighten your core and side bend right and then exhale to go left. Your core should not bulge, brace or push out as you do these. These are great for upper body mobility, torso length and strength and are a great way to work your core without strain.

Twist:

Sit comfortably. Possibly on a block or some pillows. Hold a yoga strap or belt in front of you. Exhale to blow candles, feel your core tighten, and then rotate your chest to the right, come center, and then exhale to go left. Your core should not bulge, brace, or push out as you do these. These are great for upper body mobility and are a great way to work your core without strain. One of the keys to preventing a diastasis recti is to ensure that your upper body is mobile, supple, and strong.

Side Balance:

For this exercise, you will balance in a supported side plank. Your right knee and right hand down on the mat and your left arm straight up to the sky with your left leg straight on the mat. Use your candles for support as you exhale. This move is great for balance, arm and shoulder strength, and a ton of core support.

Opposite Reach:

For this exercise, you will come onto your hands and knees and slowly lift the opposite arm and leg. If that is too hard, do just one at a time. As you lift, you exhale and blow candles, feel your core engage, and be extra sure not to bear down, brace or bulge your core! Amazing for your shoulders, arms, core, and booty.

Try not to hold your breath for these exercises. Breathing improperly, belly breathing, and rigid breathing are common culprits in diastasis recti and can hinder your recovery—they contribute to increased intra-abdominal pressure. Diastasis recti exercises work best when used in conjunction with work on breathing patterns and re-aligning the body for optimal function.