The Best Abdominal Exercises After Pregnancy
Your abdominal muscles are weakened and stretched after birth. Some of the best types of exercises to tone and tighten your postpartum abs are those that work your transversus abdominis, or lower belly muscles. The transverse abs do not play a part in torso movement but rather are responsible for forced expiration, compression of abdominal contents and act as a girdle for your lower belly. Get the go-ahead from your doctor before performing abdominal exercises.
Plank pose, in all of its variations, is a type of isometric exercise in that it is held for a period of time while contracting your ab muscles. Breathe deeply throughout this exercise. Come down onto all fours on an exercise mat or rug. Lower your forearms, shoulder-width apart onto the mat. Stretch your legs back, one by one, until your body is supported on your forearms and toes only. Lift up through your torso as you hold this variation of the plank pose for 10 seconds. Work your way up to holding the position for 30 seconds. Repeat up to five times.
Start with single leg lifts after pregnancy to get your lower belly muscle used to the action. Lie on your back on the floor. Extend your arms behind your head. On an exhalation, lift your right leg and left arm off the floor. Attempt to touch your left hand to your right foot; but touching anywhere along the lower leg is acceptable at first. Inhale and lower your arm and leg. Repeat with the left leg and right arm. Work your way up to 15 per side over time.
For double leg lifts, lie on your back on the floor. Slide your hands, palms down, under your sacrum. On an exhalation, lift both legs at once until they are perpendicular to the floor. Inhale and lower your legs. Do up to 10. Later on, when your transversus is stronger, don't lower your feet all the way to the floor on the descent. Let them hover a few inches off the floor before you lift your legs up again.
Lower back pain can be relieved at the same time you are strengthening your abs with the pelvic tilt. From a supine position on the floor, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor close to your buttocks. Contract your ab and butt muscles. Flatten your lower back toward the floor as you tilt your pelvis up. Hold for three seconds to begin, working your way up to 10 seconds over time. Release and repeat the maneuver up to 10 times.
Lie on your back on an exercise mat or rug. Lift your feet off the floor and bend your knees toward your chest. Link your hands behind your head and lift your shoulders off the floor. All together, straighten your legs to about a 45 degree angle to the floor and extend your arms overhead. Quickly criss-cross your feet, over and under each other up to eight times. Lower back down and rest for 30 seconds. Repeat.