“Hey Megan, my knees have been bothering me lately. I’m really not sure why, they’re just kind of achy when I go about my day.”
“Hey, question for you. Ever since having my girls I feel like I can’t find my abs anymore. Things just feel squishy there and I can’t even make them contract anymore. Do you think I have Diastasis Recti? Help!”
“So, I wanted to get your thoughts on the planking challenge. A bunch of my friends are trying it and some of them are trying to plank for 3 minutes. Is that even ok?”
“Megan, what’s the deal with my back? After having babies, I feel like my back is more prone to hurt and ‘go out’ on occasion. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells with it. Do you have any suggestions?”
These are real questions from real moms that I’ve received just in the last couple months. And I could go on, because there are so many more questions like these that have a similar trend: achy knees, achy back, abs that are missing in action, and hips that are all out of whack.
While these all sound like very different issues and disconnected problems, you might be surprised to find that the solution is usually the same.
My reply is typically “let’s work on strengthening your glutes and all the surrounding muscles. Let’s also teach your entire core musculature how to fire properly.”
Why? Let’s take a closer look.
Your lumbar spine, the portion of your spine from about your bra strap to your hips, is designed to be sturdy and stable. Contrary to popular believe and the myriad of stretches out there for your low back, it’s not supposed to stretch and move a lot. And your core muscles are there to ensure that it doesn’t move too much.
The primary job of your abs, obliques, transverse abdominis, diaphragm, multifidus and quadratus lumborum is to brace this area of your spine while the rest of your body moves. If your core is weak, what happens? Your lumbar spine shifts and moves around too much, possibly taking on loads in ways it was never designed to. This usually equals instability leading to pain.
So, by teaching all of these core muscles (from the inside out) to ignite and fire the way they were intended to, you’ll not only experience more tone in these structures, but also a sturdier, less painful spine.
Continuing down to the hips.
Now, your hip joint is not intended to be quite as stiff as the lumbar spine. In fact, not at all. Your hips, which are a massive joint with lots of muscles crossing through and around them, are supposed to be flexible but also strong. Your hips need to move in lots of directions, but not like Gumby. Their movement needs to be solid and sturdy.
What happens when your hips are weak and not functioning well? Well, your back may start to hurt along with your hips, but also your knees. If, with every step and every lower body exercise, your hips are wobbly and unsure, your knees will end up twisting and flopping. Not good.
What happens when we have babies? Well, a lot of things. Obviously. But most notably our abs are required to stretch and pull apart, thus diastasis recti. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just something you need to be aware of.
Also, with an expanding belly, the front of the pelvis tilts downward which in turn causes pressure on the low back. This pelvic tilt also puts your hip muscles in a compromised position, sometimes leading to sciatica and other hip pain.
Combine all of this with looser joints and a lack of strength training, and you have a recipe for an entire midsection that forgets what it’s supposed to do.
Make it easy on me, Megan.
Ok, I know a lot of that sounds like mumbo jumbo. The bottom line is that you most likely, no matter what your background, specific situation, or present circumstances, would benefit from a sound hip and core strengthening regimen.
When moms ask me the questions like the ones above, I suggest a few things, which work 9 times out of 10. I recommend that they...
With some consistency, the issues usually begin to disappear. Their deep core muscles start firing to stabilize their spine. Their pelvis learns how to sit in a more neutral position. With abs that were once separated and weak, their gap reduces and the tissues get stronger. Their glutes and other hip muscles get stronger to support the largest joint on their body while, in turn, stabilizing their knees.
It doesn't take much. It just takes the right set of exercises and instruction.
Here's the Plan.
In order to make this extremely simple for you, I put together a quick, two-week program that specifically targets everything I talked about. In fact, don't even worry about all the technical stuff I mentioned above and don't even try to figure out what to do on your own. Just follow along with this extremely simple series of exercises, broken up into a two-week progression.
I basically pulled together all the exercises I use to teach moms how to get their core to fire better, get their glutes to wake up, improve their posture, and get rid of some annoying, lingering pain in the back and knees.
These quick circuits include follow along videos that will take you just 15 minutes. That's it! Do this 15-minute plan every other day for two weeks, and you'll feel a big difference in your strength and stability. I guarantee it.
Strong Hips and Core for Moms!
Here's a quick preview of what I put together for you...
There's no catch! This is entirely free.
I just want to see you feeling strong, confident and content in your body. The next two weeks are going to help you do just that!
*It's important to note that this program is not a substitution for seeking out medical advice. While these exercises have a great track record dealing with mild functional issues that may lead to pain, more serious back, hip, knee issues should be addressed with your physician and/or physical therapist.