• Amy Slater

Tools for Returning to Function: Reintegrating the Pelvic Floor and Core

Tools for Returning to Function: Reintegrating the Pelvic Floor and Core


After spending 38 to 40 weeks carrying one or more babies, our bodies have some relearning to do as it relates to movement quality. We grew another human or two humans and things have been shifted around a bit! Our organs have been moved, center of gravity shifted and compensatory strategies learned to deal with our new position in space.


Now we have a baby to care for as well as the job of healing ourselves. As the baby grows into a toddler the physical demands for their care grow as well. They get heavier and much more mobile. Their daily needs as they are sleeping less an awake and ready to play.


This blog post is all about building fitness for motherhood. I am thinking far beyond the early days of pushing a stroller and carrying a car seat. I am thinking about the days when my kids want me to go ride mountain bikes with them or crawl around on the floor and play with Legos. I am also thinking about the days when I work all day and then they need me to be strong and fit enough to manage their needs at night. All of these demands come back to our fitness as moms and our body’s ability to recover good quality movement.











I am a mom of two sets of twins. After my second twin pregnancy, I had a 10-finger, diastasis.


I worked hard at reintegrating my core and pelvic floor. I have recovered my diastasis to a very functional 2-3 finger (it varies) gap. Though the shape of my abdominal wall will never be what it was pre-pregnancy, I am highly functional, have no pelvic floor problems, and am very active. Remember, when it comes to diastasis, we focus on the ability to create tension across the diastasis over the gap itself. Movement, stress reduction, hydration, and nutrition are key to recovering function. Today we are going to talk about some of the many strategies that you can take to reintegrate your core and pelvic floor. All movements are scalable to your level of function.


When it comes to “functional movement” it is important to have the goal of the movement in mind. Although it is not authentic to function to “tell” a muscle to turn on, like “contract the pelvic floor”. It is important to know the functional goal of the exercise and offer external cues, such as reaching high or exhaling forcefully. These are just some cues you will learn on Institute of Motion’s Platform App

Some of the big rocks keys to improving function are:

  • Thoracic (ribcage) spine mobility

  • Hip mobility in all 3 planes of motion

  • Resilience through the core (the core’s ability to maintain integrity under strain)

Of course, all of these rocks come along with good breath mechanics both with exercise and life movements.


LET'S DIG INTO SOME OF MY FAVORITE TOOLS


Grooving the hip hinge!

The objects that we need to move, lift and shift in life are not all the same. Many times as Moms we are lifting small wiggly children and shifting them to another spot.

A lot of times we are using parts of our body other than our arms to hold, carry or hold our littles. In order to safely do that, you must be able move out of a “neutral” center and move efficiently within the space. All of these variable positions help expose the pelvic floor to multiple inputs which increases tissue health!


A. Med Ball Hip Carry with opposite hand touchdown B. Plate lift to multiplanar deadlift C. DB single arm deadlift to set down with multiplanar step


3ACT SLIDE


The 3ACT Slide is a portable self-contained fitness and rehabilitation tool. The slick surface of the slide coupled with the variation in direction offered by the slides’ circular design offers a multitude of options when it comes to loading the pelvic floor and abdominal wall safely. The sliding motion creates a unique stimulus to the pelvic floor, subconsciously engaging your adductors and glutes. You can reposition the stability blocks to change the environment and create a different reaction! The low impact nature of the 3ACT Slide allows people to work in a zone or environment built for success, creating the ability to engage multiple muscle groups in a safe and effective way without the impact that may aggravate the pelvic floor.


3ACT Slide Upright Core and Pelvic Floor

In this clip, the goal is to load the pelvic floor in many different directions, effectively “turing on” all the pelvic floor musculature through the variable slide. The core is integrated with arm reaches as I am sliding or as I end in the finished position. The end result is a fully stimulated abdominal wall and integrated pelvic floor from a subconscious and fun act of sliding across the slide.


3ACT Slide Prone Core and Pelvic Floor

Each individual is different when it comes to core training postpartum. There are some foundational principles that we all must adhere to but avoid falling into the trap of believing that there is a one size fits all approach to postpartum reintegration training.

Breath, pelvic floor awareness and connecting consciously with the core is a good first step. We must be able to look beyond the conscious and look at all of the variables we can use!

Here I am using gravity, the slippery surface of the3 ACT Slide and leg drivers along with a conscious breath and effort to pull up through my pelvic floor.

Unique to the slide for this exercise are the stability blocks which keep you safe. Unlike the sliders, where you have no end control, the stability blocks provide an end point, allowing you to sink deeper into each exercise, thus working muscles more effectively and getting a better result.


3 ACT Slide Upright Core

Thinking outside the box for core training when you have a diastasis is an absolute must!


The 3 ACT Slide makes it easy to train my core in an integrated fashion! Kegels, when done effectively, only affect ¼ of our pelvic floor muscles which is even more reason to move in all these other directions. I love this exercise with the arm drivers and because of all the frontal plane motion you get, so key for pelvic floor. The slide's slippery surface demands extra control both as you reach out and pull back in. Your muscles are never really getting a rest.


Here I am using both an arm and leg driver to challenge my core to control the motion as I move along various angles and heights! My body moves VERY differently after having two sets of twins, so it would make sense to respect that!


Gone are the days of conscious isometric holds and only using kegels to isolate the pelvic floor!


We move in an integrated way with all parts contributing to movement and responding to our environment! Let’s train that way so we can move well every day!!


Core-Tex


The Core-Tex is a reactive training device that combines dynamic strength, cardiovascular endurance, razor-sharp reaction, flexibility razor-sharp and balance into ONE design, creating the optimal training environment. This amazing tool ups the proprioceptive game.


Core-Tex Thoracic Mobilization

Hip and ankle stability play a really big part in the health of your whole body and it’s the ability to move in a coordinated manner. BUT… playsdon’t forget they work along with the thoracic spine/rib cage! Here I am using the bars of the True Stretch to fix my thoracic spine while I perform a variable step off the Core-Tex Platform. A deep diaphragmatic inhale while moving into the step and exhale while returning to the center helps mobilize my diaphragm. Feels really great!!

Training in my Vivobarefoot shoes turns on the proprioceptors in my feet and ankles!! Very good to receive the input from the reactive surface of the Core-Tex!!

A. Alternating lateral step. B. Alternating posterior step. C. Alternating transverse plane step.

Without good motion through the thoracic spine restriction will negatively affect the healing of the diastasis. The pelvic floor also benefits from in improved synergy between the thoracic spine and pelvis during gait and life movements!


Core-Tex Hip Hinge Matri

Here I am using Core-Tex to help my feet steer my core. Paul Edmonson (global educator and international trainer) describes it best, “The unique platform of the Core-Tex, offers variable movement pathways that feed proprioceptors and when the proprioceptors have ‘mechanical stimulation’ learning, and ownership, of movement takes place. Core-Tex is unparalleled when it comes to the infinite ways joints, tissues are challenged by movement) the more the body is given choice in which to move, express motion, and the more the body ‘maps’ those movements, learns and remembers them – so that we have choice, freedom to express motion that in life/sport is inherently ‘variable’.”


The ultra thin sole of my Vivobarefoot shoes allows me to feel every tilt and surface shift of the Core-Tex! Using the bottom up reaction from the tilting surface engages all of the deep stabilizers in my pelvis and core. The top down reaction of my arms makes a motion sandwich for my core to respond to both drivers!Life is full of stimuli from gravity to chasing a runaway child. We must prepare our bodies to deal with all!


PELVICORE


The Pelvicore Pro is an innovative exercise tool designed for COMPLETE Pelvic Core Training. The Pelvicore Pro Training program will enhance your Pelvic Core Function, improve mobility and strengthen your entire CORE! Whether you are a Fitness Professional, recovering from surgery or have issues with weak Pelvic Floor muscles, The Pelvicore Pro is the ONE TOOL SOLUTION designed just for you


I started using Pelvicore after my first twin pregnancy seven years ago. I continue to use it in a variety of ways both personally and professionally today. The results are tremendous and build cumulatively over time. Subconscious core activation is key for, pelvic health! Enjoy some of the movements below with your Pelvicore Pro!


Pelvicore Ground to Standing long-term

The Pelvicoreis a tremendous tool to subconsciously up-regulate the pelvic floor along with the core. Before you progress to this exercise, good core and pelvic floor awareness is key. The pulling up and in through the exhale, through the pelvic floor must occur.

Here gravity is a driver loading my core, the Pelvicore Pro is a driver loading the pelvic floor and my arms are drivers adding input into my core by changing hand position!


Pelvicore Pro Standing Pelvic Floor and Core Sequence

This sequence can be broken down into individual exercises or performed as a sequence for repetitions. Though the pelvic floor is activated subconsciously, purposefully exhaling during the exertion portion of the movement is key to loading the core properly and managing intra top-downabdominal pressure. Using your arms as a top down driver helps to activate the pelvic floor via the arm lines


The goal with the Pelvicore Pro is to restore how the entire Pelvicore Neuromuscular System must work as an integrated unit.


The following patterns can be used as base patterns or strung together into one more complex pattern. You can choose to load them as well with an external load.


Pelvicore Pro Frontal Plane Core

Pelvicore Pro Transverse Plane Core

Pelvicore Pro Sagittal Plane Core

TRIFORCE


The TriForce is an amazing tool that gives “you the versatility to train for the demands of life with symmetrical and asymmetrical forces”. THIS IS HUGE! When it comes to the demands of our world as moms! Think about everything from carrying a baby, a car seat, bathing, picking up toys, the list goes on and on. The variable hand positions and ability to customize the load lead to infinite possibilities when it comes to movement combos!


TriForce Squat Matrix


Here I am looking to load my core through a matrix! Using the TriForce allows me to use a variety of hand positions and position the load to create a unique reaction!


The staggered foot position really upregulates the pelvic floor and helps reinforce decoupling of the hips! If the load is on the side and top the unloaded side is going to work harder to decelerate the load in lateral flexion!


Isn’t that cool! When you have a diastasis, there is no single recipe for success. One common truth is that your core must be resilient to handle multiple positions and multiple loads! Changing the hand position to challenge my deficits is another tweak! A simple exercise that can go many directions!!


TriForce Kneeling to Half-Kneeling Core and Pelvic Floor Load

Kneeling matrices are a tremendously valuable tool to integrate the pelvic floor and core. I loaded only two sides of theTriForce to create challenge my core from the offset load!

Life is variable and response to movement at times is unpredictable, so we must as Moms move well with variable loads in all directions.TriForce has many hand position options that all create a unique reaction!


INSTITUTE OF MOTION PLATFORM APP


Reliable, current information is key to empowering our movement practice. The IoM Platform App is a tremendous tool that gives you access to self-care non-trainer strategies and education that leads to informed health decisions. Whether you are reading this as a non-trainer or you are a professional trainer, you will both benefit from investing in this amazing tool. One of the most recent education modules is about self-care strategies for the prenatal period. Many of the techniques offered are also beneficial in the early postpartum period and during recovery programs.


Ground to Standing Mom Movement

Moms spend much of the day either in a hip flexed position or bent forward reaching down...

It’s time to open up those hips and safely load the core (a) and posterior chain (b) in one pattern!

Do you have a new pain in your knee or low back that you did not have before pregnancy? Often times it’s rooted in the hips! Hip mobility feeds core stability. You need it to reintegrate the core and pelvic floor. Take these patterns up a notch by loading them with a small medicine ball, sandbell, or dumbbell!


Piecing together a comprehensive program to reintegrate the core after pregnancy is a bit of an art. The most important thing is to never give up and keep going. You deserve to move well and feel well every day!!