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.