Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Your body runs on neurological systems and pathways to connect to certain muscles and areas of the body. When there is a disruption to these pathways, that connection can get “lost in translation”. This can happen, more often than not, after carrying your little one and delivering. There is a higher change of this if you have had a c-section since the doctor cuts through the abdominal tissue to get baby out, which in turn damages the nerves in that area. This can result in your brain not actually knowing/remembering where your abdominals are in space – crazy huh?! It is the same when you suffer other injuries like a rolled ankle. You need to re-learn where your ankle/foot is in space, this is called proprioception.
Good news is: you can work on reconnecting that mind-body connection! However, it does take time, and a lot of focus.
A good place to start is closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Feel where your breath goes; do your shoulders move up and down, or are you breathing deep into your tummy? Try to get that breath to go nice and deep; you can place a hand on your tummy to help send your brain feedback on where to breathe into.
Now, think about your abdominal muscles expanding on inhale, and coming back towards the body on exhale. Work with this rhythm through your “core canister” (see previous posts and image below) as you breathe. Bring your focus to your pelvic floor as well: when you inhale the pelvic floor should relax as your breath expands your core canister, when you exhale you can perform a VERY subtle activation of the pelvic floor (think of picking up a blueberry with your vagina and anus at the same time – blueberry, not a piano!!!). You want that engagement to be 30% of the maximum activation you can do and you want it to be equal front to back.
This is a great way to get your mind to re-connect with your core and pelvic floor and is where I start every single client that comes to see me. If coordination in your core canister is off, your body may not be recruiting the correct muscles to properly support your spine. This could result in low back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction and more.
Once this coordination is down, we start to incorporate more challenging movements alongside it. The only way for your body to get stronger is to challenge what it already knows. Something as simple as a heel slide is great to determine whether the abdominals are activating equally and in coordination with the breath. This then progresses to dead bug variations to continue strengthening. The core runs on endurance, a slow and steady increase over time with adding more stress on those muscles is what helps makes them stronger, building a stronger foundation for your body!
As Paul Chek once said, “You can’t fire a canon out of a canoe” ;) You cannot expect your body to function fully without a proper foundation.