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The Truth About Abdominal Exercises for Pre and Post … - lower abdominal exercises for women over 50

The Truth About Abdominal Exercises for Pre and Post …-lower abdominal exercises for women over 50

The Truth About Abdominal Exercises for
Pre and Post Pregnancy
Presented By: Leah Stewart, M.S.
For pregnant women, new mothers and Pilates professionals alike, there is much confusion about
what happens to the abdominal muscles during pregnancy and labor, and how it effects pre and
post natal Pilates abdominal exercise choices and modifications. Although pre and post natal
Pilates programming involves much more than abdominal work, it is often the confusion and
misunderstanding about how to continue abdominal exercises during and after pregnancy that
has created fear and doubt among both Pilates professionals and practitioners; limiting the many
wonderful opportunities of using Pilates as a powerful tool to empower women before and after
their pregnancies.
Here's what we are going to accomplish during this workshop:
1. Explain exactly happens to the abdominal muscles during pregnancy through a description of
the anatomy of the abdominal muscles
2. An analysis of a diastasis recti and it's cause and effect on pre and post natal Pilates exercise
3. The importance of continued abdominal training during and after pregnancy
4. How to create creative, safe and effective abdominal exercise modifications for yourself or
your pre and post natal clients
5. Participate in two short pre and post natal Pilates mat classes
What Happens to the Abdominals During and After Pregnancy?
During pregnancy
The abdominals and their connective tissues, which includes the linea alba, are designed to
stretch and expand to accommodate the growing uterus and baby. This is a natural process, which
can not be stopped. The hormones progesterone and relaxin aid in this natural process by
1. The softening of the connective tissue (ligaments, tendons and muscles)
2. A decrease of muscle tone during pregnancy
A prenatal Pilates program should utilize abdominal exercises that strive to obtain adequate
abdominal support and strength for postural control and childbirth, rather than those that
emphasize tight, toned muscles. On the other hand, when abdominal support and strength is not
adequate during pregnancy it may alter the baby's position, lower back and pelvic support,
postural control and the assistance of the abdominals during labor. A postnatal Pilates program
should focus on abdominal exercises that promote the re-strengthening and re-connecting of the
abdominal muscles and connective tissues.
First, let's review the abdominal muscles:
The abdominal wall is comprised of four different paired muscles each with a right and left side,
and together they cover and support the entire abdominal cavity. The muscles include the rectus
abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques and transverse abdominis.
? The rectus abdominis is the most superficial of the group and runs directly up and down,
vertically in the center of the abdomen. This is the "six pack" muscle, and in traditional
abdominal exercise routines receives the most attention because it's primary function is to
produce spinal flexion or a forward bend of the spine.
? The external and internal obliques are the muscles that run diagonally from the sides of
the abdomen, at the ribs toward the midline. As the name implies, the external oblique
muscles lies over the internal oblique muscles. Together the external and internal obliques
produce trunk rotation and lateral flexion or side bending of the spine. The oblique muscles
can also help to flatten the abdominal wall and help to create spinal stability.
? The transverse abdominis wraps around the torso horizontally from back to front. The
transverse abdominis is responsible for the narrowing of the waist and along with the
obliques the compression of the abdominal wall. The transverse abdominis is also
particularly important for providing core stabilization, which is vital for functional
movement, postural control and alignment and healthy back care.
As pregnancy progresses, the dimensions and growing weight of the uterus inevitably influences
the musculoskeletal morphology of the pregnant woman:
1. As the lower thoracic diameter increases during the course of pregnancy, the spatial
relationship of superior and inferior abdominal muscles attachments are altered.
2. Increased in overall muscle length (particularly that of the rectus abdominus) is seen due to the
changes in the anterior and lateral dimensions during pregnancy.
3. Increasing anterior abdominal dimensions may alter the angle of the abdominal wall muscles
attachments in the sagittal and coronal planes, resulting in:
? The rectus abdominus muscles to move laterally rather than vertically across the torso.
? This alteration of the aponeurotic and bony attachments changes the muscles' line of pull
and possibly their ability to produce torque
? The widening of the linea alba
How do these musculoskeletal changes effect movement?
1. It is important to remember that these changes happen slowly, over time. Modifications to
exercises will happen slowly and gradually as the uterus grows, the belly expands and as the
abdominal muscles and linea alba change and adapt.
2. The separation of the abdominal muscles and the widening of the linea alba begins to occur
sometime during the second trimester.
? One study shows that a separation width in it's subjects was not evident at 14 weeks
gestation, began to show at the umbilicus by week 26, above the umbilicus at week 30 and
below the umbilicus by week 34.

What are the best HIIT workouts for women over 50?Squat for 45 seconds/rest for 15 seconds.Push-up for 45 seconds/rest for 15 secondsBridge for 45 seconds/rest for 15 secondsRepeat the circuit 2 more times