After Baby

To Plank or Not To Plank?

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I get asked this question all the time, are planks safe during pregnancy? Can I do planks with diastasis recti? So to plank or not to plank, is a very big question especially if we are discussing diastasis recti.

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First, I LOVE planks!

Second, you must know when your body is ready to do planks, during pregnancy, postpartum or anytime really…

 

Here are some easy guidelines to follow:

  1. Do you have diastasis recti? (if you aren’t sure read this) Having diastasis recti isn’t an automatic “no” (unless you’re pregnant and have diastasis), it’s a “maybe”.  It really depends on your answers to the next 3 questions and be sure to read this entire post too.
  2. Can you connect your deep core muscles? (not sure what they are check out this post) You must be able to have at least a light deep core connection.
  3. Do you see any “coning” of your belly? You must avoid this or you may be causing more damage to your abdominals and even low back.
  4. Can you feel your abdominals connect near your ribcage and your lower abdominal area? If all you feel is pain in your low back then you need to do other simpler exercises for now and give your body more time.

 

Those are some major guidelines that can easily tell you if you should be doing planks or you should be doing easier yet effective exercises such as:

More exercises to be posted so be sure you’re a part of the Knocked Up Fitness community and sign up here!

 

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Here is my favorite plank exercise “Plank Slides”. I do love these and teach these to a lot of clients, even my clients with diastasis recti (you just gasped – I know!) but let me tell you why. For starters I would never recommend doing these plank slides in those first sessions postpartum (diastasis or not), you really do need to allow your body time to heal. However I love, love, love these for strengthening those deep core muscles once your body is ready.

That is the KEY to planks, your body must be ready… and I recommend starting with plank slides over holding a static plank. I find moving in the plank position to be a very effective deep core exercise and great for getting those abs back.

*Always be sure your physician has cleared you to exercise before beginning any exercise programs*

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  1. Begin in a full plank position on forearms and toes. Press legs together to help engage your pelvic floor (do a kegel), transverse abdominals (think lower belly) and intercostals (think “ribs) while also pulling up on the quads (your thighs).
  2. Exhale while moving your body forward staying in a plank position.
  3. Inhale while moving your body back. (Focus on stretching the calves in the backward movement).
  4. Modify: Switch out any plank exercises for a modified plank on forearms and knees or stick with those easier exercises mentioned above until your body is ready.

 

Watch for any bulging of your abdominals while in a plank position, note the difference in extra lose skin hanging vs. a good flat fascial/muscle connection across your lower belly. The extra skin is inevitable and will decrease will time, just be sure that if you notice any of your abdominal area hanging towards that ground that it is in deed skin and not your abdominals bulging towards the ground.

 

Be sure to follow those guidelines above to determine if planks are right for you right now. And if your body isn’t ready today it’s not a forever “no” it’s just a “not ready yet” but “someday”. So hang in there and keep strengthening those deep core muscles with more appropriate pregnancy and beyond baby exercises, workouts and programs.

 

One lasting thing: Please share this article with your girlfriends. I’ve talked with so many mom’s after pregnancy who had been doing exercises they later learned they should have skipped. While some women can safely do planks their entire pregnancy some should skip those and do easier core exercises as listed above. Exercise during pregnancy has so many wonderful benefits but being educated on what exercises are best, specifically core exercises can make a big impact on women during their years of having babies and beyond.

After Baby

Avoiding “Coning” During Pregnancy Can Help Prevent Diastasis Recti

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Coning of the belly during pregnancy is when you see a ridge or bulge popping out down the midline of your belly, typically when doing an exercise in correctly or an exercise that puts too much stress on the abdominals and should be avoided (see the image below for a visual). You can also see coning after baby if there is any abdominal separation (diastasis recti). Don’t fret – I have some great tips for you below so keep reading…

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NOTE: This is why you do NOT do traditional crunches during pregnancy, once in your second trimester you will always see coning doing crunches.

 

A pregnant belly should stay as round and smooth across your entire belly, if you see any coning that is a good indication of a couple of things:

  • 1) You need to be sure your deep core muscles are activated properly.
  • 2) You should avoid any exercise that causes coning during and right after pregnancy.
  • 3) You have diastasis recti and need to follow #2 rule very strictly until you can heal your diastasis after baby.
  • 4) And YES you can heal your diastasis after baby and even prevent further separation and possibly even decrease the separation during pregnancy – crazy concept but I’ve done it with many clients and you can too!
  • 5) Always roll to your side to lay down and to get up instead of laying straight back which typically always creates coning towards the end of pregnancy. I do recommend to continue this after baby until your core strength is back and/or diastasis recti is healed.

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In The Knocked Up Fitness® Guide to Pregnancy I explain in detail how to activate your deep core muscles along with my Push PrepTM method. When you truly understand how to engage your deep core muscles you can more easily minimize diastsis recti during pregnancy and repair after baby.

 

Another question that comes up is “Does the gap have to close?” – well, ideally I like to see the gap close to 1 finger-width, which is the normal spacing between the rectus abdominals. However, when it comes to true diastsis recti you can actually push down into your abdominal cavity because there isn’t much facial connection between your abdominal muscles – thus learning how to activate your deep core muscles can help train your body to create good facial connection.

 

Even if you aren’t able to fully get the separation back together it’s more important that you can create good facial tension. This means you may still have some separation of your rectus abdominals but you can no longer push down into your abdominal cavity because you have created this new facial tissue connection across your abdominals. Also meaning you have now created support for your organs and have a flatter belly because you have good abdominal facial connection.

 

One last benefit to mention to avoiding coning during and after pregnancy and learn to activate your deep core muscles properly is to also help in prevention of incontinence.

 

The Knocked Up Fitness® DVD’s are designed with diastsis recti in mind. That said, if an exercise creates any coning try to first connect your deep core and if you still see coning of your belly then skip that exercise and move on to the next or replace that core exercise with a simpler one such as cat cows.

 

After Baby

5 Tips for Back Pain Relief

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Did you know that back pain affects sixty to eighty percent of Americans at some point in their life! Life as a mom has back pain written all over it – pregnancy, breastfeeding, carrying wiggly kids and lots of stuff, picking up toys, limited time to workout, etc.

It can be lessened by strengthening your deep core muscles, improving posture and staying active throughout your day! Here are 5 tips that could help you prevent and aid in getting rid of that annoying lower back pain:

 

1. Move!  Overall strengthening can promote improvements in functional movements. If work requires you to be seated for the majority of the day, plan small breaks to go for a brief walk. Stretch out those stiff muscles and keep moving! Try this back extension exercise to strengthen your low back muscles.

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 Back Extension Exercise:

{this is NOT a pregnancy exercise, if you are currently pregnant try this exercise instead}

Step One: Lay on your stomach on a stability ball with your elbows bent and hands placed gently behind your ears.

Step Two: While drawing your abdominals in and upward, engaging your core muscles, contract your low back muscles and glutes to extend your spine, lifting your torso off the ball.

Step Three: Hold for 3 seconds and gently return to start. Repeat 12-20 repetitions.

 

2. Foam Rolling – Try this wiggle stretch {a favorite among my clients pregnant and not} to help release tension around your sacrum and low back. If you don’t have a foam roller handy be sure to read tip #3!

 

3. Gluteal Release with Tennis Ball  – Grab a tennis ball and place it in your upper glute area and slowly roll around on the ball. This is a form of self-myofascial release that you can do on your own to target specific trigger points that are holding tension in the muscle. When released can help relieve back pain.{as long as this feels good for you, you can do this release exercise during pregnancy}

 

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4. Epsom Salt Bath  {I recommend to AVOID warm/hot baths during pregnancy} However when you aren’t preggers enjoy an epsom salt bath at the end of the day. They help the body feel calm, allow the muscles to relax and will get you ready to go straight to bed! {Add about 1 cup of epsom salts to a warm bath}

 

5. Improve Posture! Improving your posture is a tiny tweak that can lead to big changes – say bye-bye low back pain. Correct posture is very important in order to have a healthy spine and an absolute MUST during pregnancy too! Remind yourself throughout the day to stand up tall lifting through the top of your head with your core engaged, relax your shoulders, and breathe deeply- remember to “show your heart”!

 

 

Thanks Kim for her wonderful testimonial:

BIG thank you to Erica for all of her tips and tricks on back pain relief. I pinched a nerve in my back and while my own home remedy’s were making my situation worse, I finally turned to her Healthy Lifestyle for the Busy Mom Program and her foam rolling videos and INSTANTLY started to feel relief from all of her recommendations. I could even stand up straight without pain the very next morning! Thanks Erica!”

~Kim F. {busy working mom}

Give these powerful tips a try if you are experiencing that annoying low back pain. Be sure to discuss with your physician prior to beginning any exercise program or new exercises. And always listen to your body!

After Baby

Healthy Lifestyle for the Busy Mom: How Much Exercise Do You Really Need? {Video}

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While being a mother is a special and rewarding feeling, it takes a lot of time away from ourselves. Often we feel like we can’t find the time and energy to have an intense workout, and so we forgo exercising altogether. But maybe an intense workout isn’t what you actually need. Your body is different than everyone else’s body, which is part of what makes you so beautiful, but different bodies have different needs. It’s important that your nutrition needs and exercise needs are tailored to you.

That being said, how much exercise does your body really need? Are you exercising too much? Are you not exercising enough? Does your exercise energize you or instead tire you out? Are you supposed to exercise after a horrible night of sleep, or when you just don’t have the energy? These are questions that we have all asked, and the answers are important for our health as a woman, a wife and a mom. Watch my video below for answers to these questions and more.

I love hearing from you so please  leave any questions or comments below.

Let’s get the word out! There are a lot of moms and families out there and I want to help as many as I possibly can. Little changes to your lifestyle really can make a BIG IMPACT on both you and your family. Not to mention all the great habits you are building for your little ones, so share on…

To keep up on the latest from Erica Ziel of Knocked-Up Fitness, sign up here.

If you missed the last videos talking about sugar and the belly bulge check them out!

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After Baby

Healthy Lifestyle for the Busy Mom: Getting Rid of the Belly Bulge! {Video}

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As moms, we lead the busiest of lives. We’re not just on the job for 40 hours a week, or even 60. We work tirelessly 24/7 to raise our children, care for our family, run errands, and work. With such a full plate, it feels nearly impossible to find time for ourselves and our own health.

Well I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to make crazy changes to your schedule in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It starts with once again, the basics – posture. Postural changes can be made without taking away any time with your kids or husband! Simply changing the way you sit, stand, and carry yourself not only can relieve neck, back, and joint pain, but also turns on your deep core, which helps us get rid of that belly bulge. And if you’re pregnant, having a strong deep core during pregnancy makes it easier to regain that flat belly after baby. Watch my video below to see how you can improve posture with my simple tips, and be on your way to your pre-pregnancy glory (or better)!

I love hearing from you so please  leave any questions or comments below.

Let’s get the word out! There are a lot of moms and families out there and I want to help as many as I possibly can. Little changes to your lifestyle really can make a BIG IMPACT on both you and your family. Not to mention all the great habits you are building for your little ones, so share on…

To keep up on the latest from Erica Ziel of Knocked-Up Fitness, sign up here.

If you missed the last video talking all about sugar, check it out here!

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After Baby

Healthy Lifestyle for the Busy Mom: Let’s Talk About Sugar! {Video}

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healthy-lifestyle-banner-ad-1Moms, you know how much I care about your body, confidence, and pregnancy(s).. but most importantly, I care about your health! But being healthy and confident is not just about exercise, though that definitely plays a big part in it. Rather, it’s maintaining a healthy lifestyle in all aspects of our life, including sleep, exercise, eating right, time management for our kids, husband, and self, etc., to ultimately attain the best version of ourselves.

But we’re moms, and by definition, that makes us busy!! So how can we maintain an overall well-being and our sanity at the same time?? By taking manageable steps towards a healthy lifestyle, starting with the basics – food. Check out the video below addressing nutrition – specifically sugar. This is the first of a three-part video series geared toward a healthy lifestyle for you busy moms!

I want your feedback so leave any questions or comments below.

Let’s get the word out! There are a lot of moms and families out there and I want to help as many as I possibly can. Little changes to your lifestyle really can make a BIG IMPACT on both you and your family. Not to mention all the great habits you are building for your little ones, so share on…

To keep up on the latest from Erica Ziel of Knocked-Up Fitness, sign up here.

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After Baby

MentorMob Parenting Resource

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Hey Mama’s, check out this brand NEW site MentorMob.com!

A couple of my favorite things about MentorMob.com

  1. It’s EASY to navigate!
  2. Info is chosen from respected blogs and other great sources (not just a google search engine)
  3. Fantastic info all in one spot
  4. Knocked-Up Fitness has several posts featured on MentorMob.com
  5. Plus so much more, check it out for yourself and read on…

MentorMob is the world’s first crowdsourced lifestyle learning website where a community of enthusiasts curate online guidebooks from the web’s best content. Always free to the public, these in-depth learning paths organize the web’s best learning content for you, and empower anyone to start, enhance or master any skill or hobby. One of our first communities that is continuing to grow everyday is parenting.

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Everyday expecting and existing parents are sifting through thousands of pieces of information, trying to find the right answers. And while the answer to all their questions likely exists on the web, a trusted answer is not always easy to find. 

 

This is the frustration we seek to eliminate by providing a definitive step-by-step path to learn, that has been curated by a trusted community (imagine a very organized Pinterest or Wikipedia-like source for important topics in parenting). 


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After Baby

Strengthening Your Deep Core

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The benefits of strengthening your deep core are virtually endless! Here are a few important reasons you need to start ASAP and strengthen your deep core:

  •  Look and FEEL your best, during pregnancy, after baby, and far beyond!
  • A quicker and easier labor, specifically the pushing portion (could prevent unnecessary c-section).
  • The ability to bounce back quicker after baby – get those abs back! (or as I prefer to say “core back”)

For more information and great exercises, check out the Knocked Up Fitness pregnancy and beyond baby programs:

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Other Related Knocked-Up Fitness Posts: