I'm 31 and started Ballet two years ago. I took a break from it July last year when I was pregnant and returned two weeks ago. This was my second pregnancy and my daughter is now 7 months old. I have found it harder this time to regain good core strength and feel like the muscles right around my middle are loose which gives me a muffin top. I did have separated abdominals for a few months after the birth but have now returned to normal. I'm after any advice you can offer me on exercises I can do to regain the 'corset' around my middle. I enjoy a good workout so anything you can suggest I'm willing to try.
Thanks for your time,
Thanks so much for your email, and it's great that you are reaching out for advice before jumping right back into ballet and training after 2 pregnancies. Women do have to be very careful about the type and intensity of abdominal exercises that they do after having children due to the changes in the fascia of the abdominal wall and pelvis.
As you have mentioned, sometimes during pregnancy there is a separation of the Linea Alba, the central line between the Rectus Abdominis muscles. If you start back with normal crunches before the fascia has had a chance to rejoin then you can risk increasing the separation rather than decreasing it.
It is often harder to get regain control the second time around, especially if there was quite a short time between pregnancies because the muscles have been held in a lengthened position for so long. Many women also tend to carry larger on the second pregnancy.
Any core training must be initially focused correctly engaging the deep abdominals, pelvic floor and deep back muscles, and building endurance in daily activities. I often recommend that women utilize a visual / real time ultrasound session to make sure that they are in fact activating the right muscles. Once these muscles are working well, then you can move onto a progressive program of core stability.
I highly recommend you start with our New Approach to core Stability Program which goes through three stages of progressive exercises from basic stability and activation exercises in neutral through to dynamic control with movement.
Alternatively, as you mention that you like a challenging workout, I would suggest the Ball Conditioning for Dancers Program. (This wonderful program is now available in a downloadable e-book!) The unstable nature of the ball makes for a very challenging workout, without loading the Rectus Abdominis too much in the early stages. This program is also split into two parts, starting off with low grad exercises that will be good for just about anyone, and progresses through to some very advanced exercises that will test even the strongest dancers!
I hope this helps!