"The goal is to create strong, balanced, adaptable abdominals that allow for balanced breathing, coordinated movement, and ideal stability adapted to whatever position we are in."
-Eric Franklin - The Art & Science of Cuing
🔹 How to Cue Your Perinatal Clients to help manage intra-abdominal pressure, develop a strong, resilient core, and prevent or heal DRA and POP:
Exhale, then inhale with a 360 breath, (you have to exhale 1st, to get a good inhale)
Starting from the LOWER ABS, begin to exhale all the air out by gently compressing (abs in) to push the air out.
"hug the lower abs, middle abs, upper abs" is the cue I use that tends to get the best results. rather than belly to spine, scooping, or zipping up which can disperse the pressure down. You can play with the traditional terms though, like saying: "gently zip up from the pubic bone"
Or if pregnant "hug the baby in and up"
Cue to lengthen their spine. I like to encourage them to press into the floor with their feet as they exhale, and reach the top of their head to the ceiling (or wall behind them if they are supine).
During pregnancy, the myofascial system (muscles and fascia) are made to expand and soften, which causes the body to not be able to take on as much force.
PLEASE continue to remind your moms that it takes TIME to get their strength back. And doing their Pilates sessions, AND paying attention to their everyday movements, is going to help them gain their mommy strength optimally.
Do you have the Body Patience After Pregnancy Guide to help your clients understand whats going on in the healing process?
Click here to download that now
Teach your clients that they have the power to direct the pressure in the proper areas and at the proper times.
🔹 High-Pressure - 80% Example:
A high-pressure movement is a Pilates exercise - performed at 80% capacity. (I don't recommend 100% because in the pre and postnatal period, your client will be moving at a moderate pace, and 100% has the potential to cause straining, and may divert pressure into the pelvis or linea alba.)
✅ During a Pilates exercise like the Roll-UP, for perinatal, the recommendation is to exhale on the most difficult part of the exercise, and smoothly with control, move through the exercise,
❌ rather than holding the breath, using force to come up.
THAT is the beauty of Pilates! And why I believe it is the BEST kind of exercise for this population.
It requires control and precision, and when done correctly, encourages true core connection, that radiates through the whole body.
🟡 Everyday Life Examples:
Another high-pressure movement is lifting or lowering a heavy child, box, etc.
The same breathing technique will be used here as well!
Exhale, inhale, then begin the exhale first, hugging the belly, THEN move. This helps to protect the spine and pelvis, giving it the right amount of protective pressure.
📚 Research shows that during everyday movements, pregnant women end up hurting themselves.
The 3 tasks that women had the hardest time with were:
You can train your clients INSIDE of the studio on how to safely, and confidently manage these tasks.
→ And a lot of it comes down to core control, and using the exhale to initiate movement.
🔹 Medium-Pressure -60% Example:
During transitions, from one Pilates exercise to the next, medium-pressure is sufficient, using the exhale, and hugging at about 60% capacity.
🔹 Medium-Low Pressure - 40% Example:
When standing at the kitchen sink, doing dishes, low-pressure is sufficient, at a 40% capacity.
🔹 Low-Pressure -10-20% Example:
And when resting on the couch, mom will be at a 10-20% capacity, without having to think about it. (The abs are always working in one form or another, with breathing and shifting.)
BUT, MOM MUST BE ABLE TO CHANGE PRESSURE QUICKLY!
Like when her toddler decides to unexpectedly dive onto her stomach, she will need to go from 20% - 80 or 100% to protect her organs!
Exhale hugging the lower abs, middle abs, upper abs, lifting the weight of the organs up off of the pelvic floor and away from the front of the abs during exercise, transitions, and everyday movements.
Contract, Then Act
Then, comes teaching proper 360 breathing, creating room in the back of the ribcage, so that the pressure that has been lifted up and away from the front, has room to go back!
We will go over that in the next post.
1. Submerge your body, but leave your head poking out.
2. Exhale all the air,
3. Then begin to take a deep inhale, starting from the pelvis, like you are filling up a balloon, expanding the back and ribcage. Notice what happens to your body in the water. Usually, your body will begin to rise.
4. When you can't inhale anymore, SLOWLY begin to exhale starting at the lower abs, hugging the belly all the way up to the sternum. Notice what happens here. Your body usually will begin to sink.
I know this is somewhat simplistic, however, I find that it is a great teaching tool for clients, showing them the power of the inhale and exhale.
THIS is going to be the key to a stronger core, and preventing or healing of DRA and POP
Get on the interest list for the Classical Pilates Mat Variations Workshop for Pregnant and Postpartum Clients.