As I talked about in my previous blog, C-section births are a major surgery, and for most women there is very little guidance on recovery other than to ‘walk’. Two and half years after my own C-section delivery, I still had little sense (proprioception) or connection to my transverse abdominis. Thankfully for me, I had the Coregeous DVD, which I had been introduced to before in order to help with my asthma. As I ventured further into the DVD, I found more positions that allowed me to recover my transverse abdominis (TvA) and regain strength and mobility in my low abdominals, diaphragm, and low back.
Now let’s get the ball rolling. (NOTE: Before attempting ANY movements below, be sure you have been cleared by your doctor to begin an exercise program) Here are some of my favorite techniques for rebuilding strength in the abdominals after major surgery.
I began my recovery with skin rolling. Using the original Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls I would lay on my back and twist a YTU Therapy Ball back and forth across the scar to help realign the collagenous fibers of the scar tissue, breaking up any unneeded adhesions in the fascia and musculature. Be sure your wound is completely healed and you are okayed by a doctor before performing this move.
Next, to delve a little deeper into the scar tissue, I would lay face down with the Coregeous ball positioned on my scar and rock my hips back and forth to warm up the tissues. You can play with how much the ball is inflated or deflated to fit your own comfort levels. As my abdominals began to feel more warmed up, I would begin to twist and turn on the ball rotating my body clockwise and counter clockwise (kind of like a helicopter). This acts to wind up the deep abdominal tissues to unravel any unwanted and unneeded adhesions. After my abdomen was feeling warm and fuzzy I would progress to movement.
As the fibers of the TvA and diaphragm are very closely connected I would begin my movement work with Uddiyana Bandha. Stretching and releasing the diaphragm in this fashion helps to awaken the musculature of the core. As much as pregnancy affects the abdominals it also affects the diaphragm. The abdominals may be stretching, but as the baby and belly grows the movement of the diaphragm becomes hindered. This can leave a new mother with a gnarled, tangled diaphragm in need of some release, Uddiyana Bandha is the perfect exercise to stretch and untangle this major breathing muscle.
Once my diaphragm began to release, I would move onto targeting my transverse abdominis with a modified version of Coreso leg lifts (See video below). This exercise is on the top of my list for those with abdominal problems as it is amazingly easy to modify to fit any level. Another great movement to help new moms recover is to squat. Squatting helps with pelvic floor recovery which, alas, has deep connections to the transverse abdominis. The benefits of squatting for new moms (and just humans in general) is a blog post all of its own. Squatting is another exercise that can be modified to fit any level of strength and flexibility. For a detailed description of modified squats check out this blog by biomechanist Katy Bowman.
For a more lengthened discussion on pregnancy and bringing yourself back to life post delivery check out Jill Miller’s Creative Live webinar Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby.
Enjoyed this article? Read Healthy Pelvic Floor: Moving Beyond Kegels
I will definitely be borrowing some of your suggestions for my c section scar! Thank you.
This article is spot on!! I did a lot of the similar rolling techniques after my C-section and it really is amazing how much it helps. Its a great version of visceral manipulation that can be completed by yourself daily without going to an actual therapist.
Thank you! I also have c-section scarring after the birth of my son almost 7 years ago. I wish I had found YTU sooner and self massage for my scar tissue! I also struggle with proprioception of my tva. I can’t wait to try this out and with my postnatal yoga students. It makes so much sense to combine udiyana bhanda with the leg lifts and by making a connection between the diagphram muscle and the tva.
Great information I can’t wait to share with my student
Yes! I love this article! I am a massage therapist, and I have several clients who came to me with symptoms ranging from back pain, knee pain, not breathing deep enough for their satisfaction and migraines, that were resolved from working with the C-section scarring. I love that I have found YTU so that I can offer them useful things to do for themselves!
I have a recent client who had a C-section 4 years ago and has recently started suffering some effects of never having been able to re-connect with her abs. I am excited to share this information with her.
Thank you. I will keep this bookmarked. I dont know for myself what this feels like and so I appreciate you informing. I have often wondered how mothers are just sent home after this major surgery, there is little to no time for a mothers self care we she has a new baby to care for.
Love everything about this article! Going to use some of these techniques with my new moms with c-section scars!
Awesome demo! I can’t wait to try a courageous ball for my own c-scar tissue. Thank you!
Thank you for describing the progressive steps you took in recovery. Great sequence and video!
Great use of pin and spin on the corgeous ball! I also love that you started slow by manually spinning the ball over your scar tissue to assess comfort first.
I had never considered the effects that pregnancy would have on the diaphragm, but this makes so much sense. Thanks for an informative article. I can’t wait to share this with my students, many of whom have had caesarean sections.
I’ve never really thought about Uddiyana Bandha as a diaphragm stretch before. Definitely an interesting way to approach it and also a great way to introduce it to someone who’s “yoga adverse”.
I read this post with great interest because I´m pregnant with my second child and have been told that I might need a c-section due to my fibroid which is close to the cervix. I really want to avoid it because I realise how invasive this surgery is. I have taught dozens of clients who reported not feeling fully fuctioning in their abs post C-section. One even said that, after she found herself unable to sit up in bed after some time, her doctor told her that not all her muscular layers had been sewn up, just the main ones, because she “wouldn´t need them.” What?? I genuinely hope that´s not the usual practice. I suppose we should be able to have a consultation with our potential surgeon and discuss exactly how they are planning on carrying out the surgery (if only!). It´s encouraging to know that there is a lot that we can do ourselves to heal the scar tissue and realign the fascia, though. Thank you for all your tips!
I appreciate your insight and thoughtful approach to recovery for mothers after birth. This is certainly an area that needs more attention by medical professionals. Your description of how scar tissue forms in a multidirectional and multilayered way, and your suggestions for breaking up adhesions using the Coregeous ball are so helpful. I tried your modified corso leg lifts and love them! Thanks so much for sharing!
Thank you for your smart, compassionate take on this topic.I really appreciate your thoughtful approach to the scar tissue issue. I’m working with a post-C-section mama right now and this will be a wonderful gift for me to bring her.
Love this modification. I’m from Australia and 1 in 3 births are by c-section here, so I am inspired to share the modified Coreso leg lifts (in my classes and encouraging other to share) as well as coregeous ball work as they are so simple, so needed! Thanks for posting.
Very nice progression of intensity of the ball work. I’m sure there are folks out there who would be nervous to lay over a ball when their core is still a stranger. I like the use of a smaller ball while lying supine as a first date with your scar tissue. Thanks!
I love the modification in the strengthening of the TVA in your video! awesome!
I think this is great to teach in prenatal yoga classes so that women feel prepared and empowered for the road that lies ahead in their recovery.
This article gives me greater insight into helping the moms in my Mom&Baby yoga class heal after a c-section. As I’m fairly new to rolling, I’ll delve into this a bit more, but I really liked the modified Coreso leg lifts!
This is so great! I can’t wait to introduce this to my clients with C-Sections. So beneficial. Thank you
It always surprises me to roll out the scar tissue and then strengthen muscles. It makes so much sense. Thank Kevyn – I tried your modified coreso leg lifts and love them!
I am absoutely going to suggest this to my c section mama friends. I have many of them and I know the recovery takes a long time. To relieve them at all would be amazing.
After one session on the Coregous ball I look forward to doing more. My C-section was 22 1/2 years ago and I still feel adhesions. Rolling on the Corgeous Ball I felt my scar being more comfortable to touch. It has always been a very sensitive area.
love the ab rolling, it has helped me and my clients. esp c section!
I like this progression to increasing circulation to the area with the balls and breath and then strengthening it. It feels like a complete little package. Thank you. I will definitely be adding it to my work with post c section clients.
At what point post op is it safe to perform these maneuvers assuming a non complicated c-section? Many women ask me about how to tone up after a c section and in general, it is difficult b/c OBs tend to be rough with their closures, often using staples and not closely approximating tissue. I always advise as much as possible to try and have a plastic surgeon in the room to better align the tissues and reduce the risk of extra skin and scar tissue. That being said, this piques my interest as a possible therapeutic and recovery measure. How much success have you seen using this technique?
Are the core so leg lifts appropriate for diastasis recti?