7 Top Exercises to Reset Your Body after Pregnancy
Be toned, feel stronger, ease aches and pains and have more energy with these easy to do exercises designed by Vicky Warr – founder of Bump and Beyond, pregnancy and postnatal fitness specialist, health coach and resident Gurgle expert
Image: Vicky Warr
1. Umbrella Breathing
This is a must do exercise after pregnancy that you can do at any time of the day!
This form of deep, relaxed breathing restores your natural energy, promotes feelings of calm, clears mental fog, aka the mummy brain, strengthens your core and pelvic floor as well as improving your digestive system.
Sit tall cross legged or with your legs in front of you. Make sure you sitting on your sitz bones in each bottom cheek. Place each of your hands on either side of your upper ribs, just below your bra strap.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose expanding your lungs and rib cage sideways. As you do this imagine you are putting an umbrella up and it is opening out.
- Then open your mouth and through pursed lips release a full, calm breath out. Imagine you are steaming up a window. Feel your rib cage and deep inner most abdominal muscles relax and sink.
- Repeat for 10 full breaths in and out.
Tip: Breath awareness
When you breath you want to use your breathing muscle, the diaphragm, to bring air deep into the body; expanding the tummy, ribs and lower back. This will help strengthen your core and pelvic floor. Your shoulders should remain relaxed and down and your chest only moves slightly and should be the last part of you to move. To become aware of this natural breathing patterns watch your baby or child breathe. Their belly rises and falls.
2. Pelvic Tilt
Improves lower back ache, pelvic stability and strengthens and tones your core muscles.
Lie on your back with your feet shoulder width apart, your knees bent with each arm straight and flat on the floor by each side of your body. You should have a very small gap between the floor and your lower back; imagine sliding a letter between your lower back and the floor as that is the width of the gap to aim for.
Place the fingers of your right hand on to the top of your right hip bone and tuck your thumb around the side of your hip. Do the same with the left fingers and thumb.
- Breathe out, draw your belly button inwards towards your spine and roll your tailbone (base of the spine) away and slightly up, keeping your bottom and hips flat on the floor. Your lower back softly flattens into the floor.
- Then breathe in and then roll your pelvis upwards, so there is a small gap between the lower back and the floor.
- Repeat 8 to 10 times.
3. Hip Flexor and Waist Stretch
Helps improves your hip flexibility after pregnancy to reduce back ache and tone your waist.
Kneel on the floor and step forward about 2 feet with your right foot so that your right knee is at a right angle and your right foot is flat on the floor. You’ll be resting on your left knee and then tuck the toes of your left under. Bring your upper body upright with your chest facing forwards and your shoulders in line with your hips. Place your hands on your hips.
- Taking your hands off your hips, raise both your arms slowly upwards in the air over your head and as you do this push your right knee forward, keeping your right foot flat until you feel a moderate stretch in the hip flexor area (front side of leg at the hip level).
- Squeeze your bottom cheeks and keep your pelvis facing forwards.
- Then lower your right arm and keeping your left arm up, reaching the fingertips towards the ceiling and bend over to the right, avoid leaning forwards or back, keeping your body upright. You’ll feel a stretch down the left side of your body. Hold this stretch for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
- Then change to kneel on your right knee with your left foot forwards. Do the same move reaching your right arm up and over and bend over to the left, feeling the stretch down the right side of your body. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds and repeat this 5 times.
4. The Bridge
Strengthens and tones your bottom muscles.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and hip width apart, your feet flat on the floor and your arms flat on the floor by your sides. As in the pelvic tilt exercise, you should have a very small gap between the floor and your lower back.
- Breathe out and squeeze your bottom muscles together then lift your hips up pushing into the heels of your feet and the backs of your upper arms (triceps).
- Hold this position for 2 seconds then lower your hips to the floor, stopping when you are half way down to the floor, then lift your hips back up again.
Repeat 10-12 times
- On the last repetition, keep your hips high and pulse up and down by just 2cms for 12 pulses.
Then repeat the single raises in steps 1-2 for another set of 10-12.
5. The Clam
Helps to reduce aches and pains by strengthening your core and lower back muscles. It also helps improve balance in the leg and hip muscles and pelvis to reduce the risk of falls.
Lie right down on your right side, with your legs straight and your right arm straight out on the floor. Place your right hand just behind the back of your head so just your upper arm is on the floor. Bend your knees bringing them in front of your hips with your feet behind and top of each other. Your hips and knees should be stacked on top of each other. Place your left hand on your left hip.
- Breathe out and lift the top, left, knee up, toward the ceiling, keeping the heels and toes of your feet together and the hips still and facing forwards, with your top hip directly on top of the hip closer to the floor.
- Breathe in and lower the left knee back to meet the right knee. Repeat 10-12 times.
- Then switch sides to lie on your left side and repeat the same action lifting your right knee. Repeat 10-12 times.
- Then switch to your right side, repeating the exercise again for another set of 10-12 on your right side before switching to the left.
6. Head Lift
Strengthens your core, helps heal abdominal separation (diastasis recti) and bring your tummy muscles back together.
Lie on your back with your legs straight out in a V-shape, placing your hands by your either sides of your ears.
- Breathe in, then breathe out deeply and draw your belly button inwards towards your spine and lift your head and shoulders gently, with your chin towards your chest
- Hold for 2 seconds, breathing in and out, then lower your head and shoulders back to the floor.
- Repeat 10-12 times.
7. The March
Strengthens and tones the core muscles, the lower tummy and pelvic floor muscles.
- Start resting on your knees and hands with your shoulders over your wrists and hands flat on the floor and your knees about hip width apart on the floor, directly under your knees. Look down to the floor at the space in between your hands.
- Breathe out and draw your belly button inwards and upwards towards your spine and lift your right hand and your left knee up about 2cms off the floor. It is a very small move.
- Lower both your right hand and left knee back to the floor as you breathe in.
- Repeat this 15 times, then switch to doing the same action lifting your left hand and right knee, 15 times too.
Tip for new mums!
Do this exercise with your baby lying next to you or sit them in a bouncy chair to watch you. Babies can be really entertained when watching you exercising and you’ll be a great role model.
Vicky Warr, pregnancy and postnatal fitness specialist and founder of www.bumpandbeyond.club.
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Vicky's Bump and Beyond website gives you all the tips, encouragement and exercises you need when you're pregnant and going through the earliest years of motherhood. She's kindly offered one of our readers the chance to win a year's subscription to her programme.