I want to take a few minutes to talk to you about your core. And when I say core I don’t just mean your tummy! I mean your whole centre… I’m talking diaphragm, abdominals, pelvic floor and spine! Your core really is the centre of everything. The strength, (or weakness) in your core muscles impacts every single move you make in life! Whether you are walking, running, sitting, lying, laughing, lifting heavy objects or pushing a heavy pram or trolley, your core is working. If it isn’t working well, you can become uncomfortable or start to suffer with irritating little niggles that get in the way of your enjoyment of life! And this to me is just not acceptable!! Life should be enjoyed! I want everyone to have the freedom to move comfortably and with strength, no matter what they are doing…. I don’t want little niggles like pain in your back or pain in your knees or even weak pelvic floor getting in the way of you doing the things you love! So, the 3 exercises in am going to tell you about are, in my opinion, THE BEST exercises for getting connected to your core and working towards making it strong, stable and supportive! They are especially great for postnatal mums but they are genuinely good for EVERYONE to do, especially females.
So why not take a few minutes to read through the info and then try them out? If anything isn’t clear please just ask! I am more than happy to help1
1. CORE & FLOOR CONNECTION – THE BREATHING You can do this wherever you are right now. Put your hands on either side or your ribcage, or put one hand on your lower belly and the other on the side of your ribs. Inhale and feel your ribcage expand as it fills with air. Then feel the air move gently into your belly and focus on your hip bones and try to visualise how they are moving apart to make room for all that gorgeous air! Now, as you exhale, gently lift the pelvic floor up and into the body, and think about bringing the front of your hip bones back in closer together. Don’t force this, it should be a fairly easy movement, not aggressive. Now as you inhale again just completely let go! Let the air fill your ribcage and lower belly again and let the hips widen and then exhale again repeating that gentle lift. Do 10 slow breaths like this. (This is also a great way to calm yourself and slow down… something else we could all benefit from doing more often!) Try to really master this Core & Floor Connection Breathing as you will be using this method of breathing for the next 2 exercises as well.
2. HEEL SLIDES Lie on your back, with your feet flat on the floor and your knees pointing up to the ceiling. Place your hands on your hip bones and then, as you exhale get the core & floor-breath-lift-action going again and slowly extend one leg out straight – hovering it above the floor, or touching the heel down to the floor, whichever feels best. So, as you exhale, you’ll gently lift “up and in” with the pelvic floor muscles and imagine the front of your hip bones getting closer together. You should feel deep tension in your abs, between the front of your hip bones. You can even keep one hand there to remind you of this tension. Then, keeping the pelvis completely stable, inhale as you bend the leg back in. Do 8-10 reps each side, always working with that core & floor breathing technique and trying not to let your pelvis rock from side to side.
You can progress this one up by starting with your knees bent and your feet lifted off the floor, so your hips and knees are at 90 degrees. Using the same breathing as described above, you exhale as you lower one leg to the floor, keeping the knee bent and lightly touching the heel of your foot to the floor. Inhale as you bring the leg back and then exhale as you lower the other leg down. Again repeat for up to 10 reps each side.
3. GLUTE BRIDGE As with the heel slides, you start lying on your back, feet flat on the floor with your knees pointing up towards the ceiling. You want to get your spine into a neutral position – this means you are allowing it to have its natural curves… you shouldn’t push your lower back into the floor and neither should you push your ribs up towards the ceiling. You should feel a slight gap between your lower back and the floor.. From this position, as you exhale, you will lift your hips up off the floor so that just your feet and shoulders/upper back are on the floor, while simultaneously squeezing your glutes and repeating that core & floor lifting action. Again, watch your posture and alignment – you don’t want to rock the pelvis as you lift, you want your body to remain steady and straight… You also don’t want to push your ribcage up towards the ceiling, but keep them nice and neutral. The whole upper and lower body should move as one unit. Then, as you inhale again you drop back down to the floor. You are aiming for steady and strong. The aim is not to raise your hips as high as possible here. Do 10-15 reps.
You can do these exercises every day. I would love you practice them at least 3 days per week and to do a couple of sets.
I’d love to hear how you find these so please do let me know how you get on!
Happy breathing to you all and here’s to strong, connected cores for us all!