Postpartum Repair Module 4 Welcome

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My Progress

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Welcome to Module 4!

Check off the boxes after you've completed the sections:

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What's in Store for Module 4

This week we’re getting into deeper core work, and introducing: BRACING!

Bracing is the ability to hold your trunk (a.k.a. your core) steady while you increase the demand on – or overload – your core system.  This ability is key to keeping the abdominal canister pressurized (a.k.a. no ‘leaks’!) and functioning 100% while you begin to advance your workouts.

Let’s be clear here: what IS overloading the system? Here are some examples:

  • Sneezing – Yes! Even sneezing! A sharp breath out dramatically increases load on your core. This is why you often hear about people ‘pulling their back out’ when they sneeze. The force of the sneeze was more than their abdominal canister pressure was trained to handle and their back took the brunt of the force. (ouch!)
  • Breathing deeper & faster – Yep, this is overload too. When you walk up a steep hill or start running, your breath deepens. As the demand on your breath goes up, the abdominal canister system needs to work harder to keep up with the demand. If it’s not trained properly, you may experience pain in other places, such as side stitches, upper back / neck pain, low back pain or pelvic floor pressure.
  • Breathing with a balloon – Blowing up a balloon is like weight training for your abdominal canister! Your abdominal canister muscles have to work over-time to create enough force to expand the latex of the balloon.
  • Moving the arms and legs – Think of your arms and legs as levers.  The further away your extremities are from your body, the more the core ‘corset’ muscles have to contract to stabilize the spine. The benefit of bracing in this context: not only will your core become stronger with the added force from moving your arms and legs,  you’ll also get better results from your workouts because it will be easier to recruit the correct muscles in your shoulders, hips and legs if your core is stable.
  • Adding external weight – External weight is…pretty much anything you can pick up! That includes dumbbells and free weights, but also includes car seats, grocery bags, laundry baskets, small babies and wiggling children too. The heavier (or wigglier) the external weight, the more bracing you’ll need to keep the spine safe and canister pressurized.

Key Points to Know When You're Doing Core Work INCORRECTLY & CORRECTLY

KEY POINTS TO KNOW WHEN YOU’RE DOING CORE WORK INCORRECTLY:

  1. Pushing OUT and/or bearing down is incorrect. If you see a conical shape in your stomach as you’re doing abdominal work, chances are high that you are pushing OUT.
  2. You should not feel core work in your butt, shoulders or your arms! Oftentimes the stronger butt muscles, hip flexors (in the front of your hips), quads and shoulder girdle muscles will jump in and try to ‘help’ the core do its work. Say ‘thanks but no thanks’! They are not doing you any favors by taking over the work that the core should be doing!
  3. If the ribcage or hips are moving while you’re doing core work, you’re not stabilizing enough. Brace the transverse abdominals to ensure your ribs and/or hips do not move AT ALL (otherwise you’re achieving movement in your extremities by compensating in your ribcage and/or pelvis, and the movement is coming from your core rather than where we really want it – in the moving body part!)
  4. If you are feeling pain in your back when you’re doing core work, your abdominals are tired and you need to rest. Take a break, and come back to the exercise again later when you can fully engage your core.

KEY POINTS TO FEELING CORE WORK CORRECTLY:

  1. The contraction in your core should feel like you’re pulling your entire belly in and away from putting on tight jeans, or as if you’re avoiding a sucker-punch to the belly.
  2. Contracting the pelvic floor muscles can help activate the lower core muscles. It should feel like a squeeze ‘in’ and a lift ‘up’.
  3. You’ll be able to feel tightness from the bottom of your ribcage all the way down to your pubic bone and around to your back (but not as pain!) if you’re bracing your abdominals correctly.
  4. The core muscles should be able to completely stabilize your hips and ribcage while you are moving your extremities. If your core is not ‘holding’ while you’re moving, return to the previous exercise to properly train the muscles to engage and stabilize.
  5. Should your muscles be sore? At first, yes. You should feel a light ‘burn’ in the working muscles while you’re doing the exercises, and then you may or may not be sore the next day. NOTE: You don’t have to be sore to know you’re working the muscles properly.
  6. Over time you’ll be able to contract your deep core muscles on command, and use them when you start adding bigger movements. 

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about bracing? We’d love to hear. Post it in the private group!

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