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Elizabeth Street


Exercise After a C-Section Is Possible, Just Keep This In Mind

Nov 19, 2013

Exercise After a C-Section Is Possible, Just Keep This In Mind

Moms who have delivered a baby via C-section often wonder how soon they can get back to their exercise regime. First things first: Always speak to your doctor about your activity progress on the road back from a Cesarean.
Generally, the ACOG recommends that you can start exercising six to eight weeks after a Cesarean section. The time is necessary for the repair of all the layers of the skin, muscles and uterus to deliver your baby.

During a C-section, the rectus abdominal muscles are cut. These “abs” are two muscles that run up and down from the upper abdomen down to the pubic bone, and they may feel quite sore and tender when you move for the first several weeks after delivery. As they heal back together and become stronger, you will likely be given the green light to introduce gradual core contractions.  

This isn’t to say you can’t begin with preliminary core conditioning and graduate to a more progressive ab circuit. If you consider it in terms of phases, you can start with basic contractions and graduate to the more advanced movements.

Core includes strength belonging to the abs, obliques, the rectus (think of a corset made of muscle that wraps around and attaches at the spine), the lower back muscles and the pelvic floor.

Here are some exercises you can do:

Phase 1: Phase one can begin 2-3 weeks after your C-section.

1. Kegel Exercises: The pelvic floor is strengthened by doing kegels, training you have probably been advised to do before and during your entire pregnancy.
Kegels don't require big movements like ab crunches. Rather, the goal is to tone your pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. Engaging your kegels is done by contracting the muscle you use to stop your urine flow. Hold for up to 10 seconds and release, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.

2. Pelvic Tilt: Try the pelvic tilt a few times a day to gently engage your abdominal muscles. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent. Flatten your back against the floor by gently pulling in your abdominal muscles and tilting your pelvis up slightly. Hold for up to 10 seconds. Repeat five times and work up to 10 to 20 repetitions.

Phase 2: This begins after your doctor gives you the go-ahead to start more advanced movements.

1. Wall Slides: Laying on your back with your knees bent and your lower back firmly against the ground, engage your abs by pulling your navel in to your spine. Use your abs to alternate sliding the heels along the floor in a slow and controlled pace. Aim to complete 20 total.

2. Alternating Heel Touches: Slightly more advanced than the wall slides, the heel touches require a little more from your abs, as they control the entire weight of the legs. Laying on your back, bracing your lumbar against the floor, raise your knees off the ground to a 90 degree angle. In a slow, controlled tempo, alternate lowering each leg until the heel touches the ground. Use your abs to control throughout the entire range of movement. Aim for 15-20 reps.

3. Double Heel Touches: In the same posture as above, however the abs control the lowering of both feet at the same time. Go for 15-20 reps.

4. Elbows to Knees: Recruiting the entire length of the abs, with your hands behind the head and knees pulled in, pull into a ball and touch the elbows to the knees. Release and crunch and create distance between the knees and the elbows by traveling the heels and shoulders to the ground. Try for 15-20 reps. 

By Andrea Orbeck
Celebrity trainer and fitness expert, Andrea Orbeck has helped sculpt some of the world’s most beautiful bodies, including supermodels Heidi Klum, Karolina Kurkova and Doutzen Kroes. A former national athlete with the women’s Canadian Bobsled team, she is also recognized as a Pregnancy Fitness Specialist with the AFPA and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Andrea is the creator and star of the bestselling fitness DVDs “Supermodel Series” and “Pregnancy Sculpt”, which included her trademarked fitness tool, the Hipster.

C-section hasn’t happened yet? Check out Andrea’s core workout for pregnant women in the video below.

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