Jan 032014

abdominal cylinder







Confused about core strengthening exercises…

There  has been so much ‘Core” research and information about the deep abdominal muscles in the last 15 years, the word has become a ‘ household  name’.
In this diagram, we can see:

  • Breathing diaphragm at the top of the cylinder
  • Abdominal muscles forming the walls of the cylinder
  • Pelvic floor at the bottom of the cylinder
  • Deep back muscles behind, close to the spine

These four parts of the cylinder work together and depend on each other for optimal function. This is the ‘deep’ or ‘inner’ core that physios and fitness professionals talk about. This deep core needs to work at a constant low level to provide a co- ordinated level of lumbo – pelvic stability as you perform your every day tasks.

Then you have the ‘outer’ core muscles

outer core front

outer core  from the back









The outer core muscles are your ‘strength’  -power house. They need to be strong to maximise your ‘whole body’ power and agility. In sports, gym work, and general aerobic fitness  we often focus on specific muscle groups to improve strength ,speed and co- ordination.
We need to understand how these layers of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ core muscles work together to give us the ‘core strength and the co -ordination that we want !!!

I would like to link you to this great article from Anna-Louise Bouvier, physiotherapist, founder of ‘physiocise’. This is one of her many ‘pearls of wisdom’ “Cutting+Edge+Core+Control+P1
If you want to learn more about core exercises for women make an appointment to see me.
I love to combine my women’s health skills with personally training/ prescribing ‘safe’ exercises for women.
At sports focus physiotherapy, we work on re- education of these inner core muscles with a co- ordinated breathing pattern, together with manual therapy, exercise programs and specific sport training drills for all ages and abilities.

 Posted by at 2:06 am
Jan 152013

DRAWhat a great way to start the new year…bulging tummies!
During your pregnancy you may develop stretching and separation of the middle part of your tummy muscles.  This ‘linea alba’  holds together the outermost rectus abdominius muscles (six pack), internal and external obliques, and the fascia of the transverse abdominus.  You can do exercises during your pregnancy and ‘lifestyle ‘changes to minimise this.  It doesn’t happen to everybody.
How to tell: and what to do if you have a DRA (diastasis):

Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent.  Place your hand flat on your belly, fingers pointing towards your toes.  Fingers should be flat on your belly.  Check in three places– belly button, two inches above belly button, and also below.  To check; you press your fingers down as you lift your head.  Shoulders stay down.  If you feel a space that you can press at least one to two finger into then that is a diastasis.  The wider this space, the worse the diastasis.  It may bulge or even pulse as the underlying tissue is very thin.  A diastasis can be caused by pregnancy/childbirth, but also by doing too many stomach-strengthening exercises (sit- ups / crunches) without also strengthening the deep transverse abdominal muscle that supports your internal organs and growing baby. Men can also get DRA

You may need a support belt.

What NOT to do if you have a DRA :
Don’t do Pilates mat classes or DVD’s at home. You may do a specialized studio Pilates programme where you are working 1:1 or in a very small group .  Get your belly assessed by a Women’s Health Physio  first and she will help you with a safe exercise programme.
Don’t brace and bear down or strain…this will increase the pressure inside your tummy and in the effort to hold your tummy in strongly you will be putting  too much pressure on your pelvic floor.
Most of the Pilates mat class exercises that you can do at your local gym or at a ‘boot camp’  will not only not help your mummy tummy, they may make it worse, or even create a diastasis where there was none before.   When your diastasis starts to heal, you can do certain exercises which are designed to help your DRA, but not crunches or sit- ups..Make sure your Women’s Health Physio talks to your Personal trainer or Pilates teacher… This is how we spread the word….
    DRA from the front

What TO do: When doing these exercises make sure you can feel your Pelvic floor lift
Do belly breathing.  When you breathe, feel your lower belly expand, and when you exhale, let your lower tummy come all the way back. Do not forcefully push your upper abdomen out while doing belly breathing.
Do Practice perfect posture as much as possible.  Squat or bend at the knees to lift things or babies.
Carry your baby as close as possible and try to maintain good posture when you do!!!  When breastfeeding, don’t slouch to get breast to baby.  Prop baby higher with pillows, or lie down next to baby to feed.
Do abdominal work:
Deep tummy (Transverse abdominal muscle) is the start, together with pelvic floor lift. A range of side lying ,kneeling on hands and knees ,sitting and standing exercises can be taught with this deep bracing support.
Seated Tupler Technique While breastfeeding, remember good supported posture pillow(s) under baby, bring him/her up to you, rather than bringing your breast down to them,
Place your hands on your tummy, one above the belly button, one below. Take a belly breath and expand tummy to floor one. (Floor 1 is all the way out, floor 5 feels like your tummy is touching your spine), Hold for 30 counts but count out loud so you know you’re still breathing. Then pull your tummy back even further for a little squeeze, and count as you do 5 of these squeezes, and release make sure you relax. Feel your side waist drawing in too. Do 5 sets of these every day and don’t forget your pelvic floor lift first…and breathing….

Courtesy of  http://diastasisrehab.com/before-after.html
Check yourself and then check with your Women’s Health Physio to get the right exercise level,reps and sets..get to it!

 Posted by at 4:14 am