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The "ABCs" of Core and Pelvic Health

Updated: Jan 16

I do a frequent workshop called "The ABCs of PostPartum Healing". This was born out of the main 3 things I start with when working with almost EVERY client, whether they just had a baby or not, because establishing and improved connection with and re-balancing our inner core system is so important for our body's movement and performance. When talking about the optimal function of our core and pelvic floor and how they work together to provide spine and pelvic stability, it's not just strength of our abdominals that we need to be looking at. It is truly a whole body integration! So, when you are healing from birth, from an injury, wondering about where your symptoms are coming from, or just looking for more power in your body, STEP #1 is becoming aware of your current habits and patterns and doing these 3 things:

A: Align

The way we posture ourselves, move our joints, and interact with the world makes a big difference in the way we function and what forces and stress we are putting through our body. And it's all connected! Even the way our big toe hits the ground can directly influence the position of our pelvis and neck. So if you are healing or looking to solve something in your body, start to pay attention to your alignment, how you walk, and how you move! Mommas - the position of our pelvis and ribcage, and the way we hold and carry our babies, makes a HUGE difference in the pressure that is put through our healing abdominal wall and pelvic floor. Check out the video below so you can start feeling these concepts in your own body. Posture/alignment is NOT about being perfect and locking yourself into one position all day, it's just about noticing habits and making small shifts.

B: Breathe

Did you know your breathing diaphragm is a large flat muscle that covers the whole base of your ribs? And also that the movement of it not only allows breathe to come in and out of your lungs but influences your pelvic floor, spinal stability, core patterning, digestion, nervous system, and voice just to name a few things? There are many things that can lead to an altered breathing pattern but habit and tension patterns are 2 important ones. As is your alignment (see above) - the position and movement of your ribcage affects the diaphragm. Sometimes tightnesses, positioning, or stress can lead to a more shallow breathing pattern, which doesn't allow the full core breath to do all of it's amazing things in the body. Sometimes even when we take a big breath in but only breathe into our belly, or only into our shoulders, creating a diaphragm that is a little "quiet" and not going through its full potential. All of the muscles in your body need to be able to move through their full range of motion to be healthy - the same goes for your diaphragm. So connecting with your breath and taking a few deep full breaths that move your diaphragm to it's full capacity can help to strengthen your core and pelvic floor, can get you digestion going, can stretch and move the little joints in your spine where your ribs attach, AND can actually help your body heal because it helps tap into the vagus nerve which sends you into the "rest and digest" portion of your nervous system. I call this the "core breath" or the "360 degree breath"

C: Connect

Establish that re-connection with your core to bring everything back "online" and then establish the re-patterning to use it! Here's the thing - you are strong. Your body is a master compensator so if there are more "quiet" parts of your core musculature you better believe that other muscles are going to step up and do the job, creating a potential patterning that interrupts the coordinated "wrap" we need to find in our core system to control pressure and stabilize our pelvis and spine. Imagine your inner core as a cylinder in the center of your body between your ribcage and pelvis which creates a coordinated system. We have our abdominal wall in the front of this cylinder and we are looking at all the layers, but particularly the transversus abdominus (deep and horizontal fibers) and the integrity of the connective tissue down the center and how well it transfers force. At the bottom we have our pelvic floor - which is a large system of muscles, not just the "squeezy squeezy" ones! (stopping the flow of urine, which you always read in magazines as a "kegel" is NOT a full indication of the function or health of your pelvic floor as it relates to your core and its other functions). In the back we have our spine stabilizing muscles. And on the top of this cylinder we have our breathing diaphragm. That's right - your pelvic floor and breathing diaphragm are actually a part of your core! Unfortunately, often overlooked as we are taught to focus on abs! If you want to have good core control and stabilization we need to look at this WHOLE system. And as you can imagine if you know me, all the other parts of our body are connected with this system, for example - the shoulderblades and hips have integral roles. It's all connected!

These 3 things can start to set your foundation to build from and they don't take much work! I would argue that EVERY HUMAN should understand these concepts. And here's the magic - you can begin looking at these 3 things in your own body at any point! Mommas - starting to work on this body connection and healing is safe and appropriate right after you give birth! Check out my FREE WORKSHOPS if you want to explore this in your own body (I do them periodically throughout the year so if you don't see an upcoming one on the list, check back), or GET ON MY SCHEDULE! You will improve your body awareness, the way you feel, and the way you interact with the world and I promise, you will feel that it is worth it! There is power in re-connection. (check out my blog on the sneaky side effects of this work)

Written and medically reviewed by Dr. Brenda, DPT


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