On this episode of The Resource Doula Podcast, we discuss 3 quick tools you can use to engage your core better. Your deep core, that is, not the superficial glamor muscles. You can practice with me wherever you are listening - whether in the car or doing chores around the house, or at a desk.
If you would like more tips and tricks like this, where I break it down into steps for you. I am starting an email series on mindful movement, how to get started with it and how to structure your workouts starting next week. So be sure to sign up here: https://trainat.li/emails
Find a qualified pelvic physical therapist near you: https://trainat.li/pelvic-guru
Check out The Mental Push Plan at www.mentalpushplan.com
Please remember that that what you hear on this podcast is not medical advice. but remember to always do your own research and talk to a trusted provider before making important decisions about your healthcare. If you found this podcast helpful, please consider leaving a 5-star review in your favorite podcast app, it helps other people find the show. Thanks so much for listening!
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on today's podcast. I go over three quick and easy ways to engage your deep core that involve your pelvic floor breathing and alignment. You can practice this, whether you are just doing chores at home, or if you are picking up your kids or if you are. Actually working out in an exercise class and the instructor says, engage your core, brace your core, keep your core tight. I'm gonna explain what that actually means and how to do it. And a lot of times we don't really get any additional explanation beyond pull your belly button to your spine or engage your core. And oftentimes this leaves us feeling confused and just holding all of our muscles in our abdominal region, as tight as we possibly can grimacing through the exercise. And it seems to maybe be working against us. Giving us too much pressure in our pelvic floor or feeling like I'm a baby trying to fill their diaper. Let's go over these few tips. This will actually make it a lot easier for you. And it's a lot more simple than you might think.Hello and welcome back to the resource doula podcast, a place where we provide information to help you make informed healthcare decisions for yourself and your family. I'm Natalie. And today I'm going to be explaining three quick and easy tools you can use right now to engage your core better, your deep, deep core, your stabilizing muscles, not the superficial glamor muscles as we call them. But you might think about when you think about your abs, like the six pack muscles or the oblique. As we go through the conversation today, I want you to keep in mind. If you have a pelvis you had a baby recently, you have pain in your pelvis pain in your low back pressure in your pelvic floor, or feel like something is gonna fall out or you're leaking in any way with activity or laughing or coughing or sneezing. Then I would highly recommend you go see a pelvic floor. Physical therapist and I provide recommendations for these. So if you need one, then feel free to reach out to me. Use the link in the show notes to find a pelvic floor PT, close to you. One that's qualified and in your area. The first tool is alignment. How your body is held in space. If you are standing. We want ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles, all in one straight line, ideally. And that will vary from person to person, but that's a really good place to start. So if you have a mirror available and you're at home, walking around, go stand sideways and check yourself out sideways in the mirror. What points are in that line? What points are out of that line? If you're driving, you can think about. That alignment starting from your hips. So hips, shoulders, and ears. Oftentimes the most common alignment adjustment that I have to make with clients is their pelvis is tucked under. Like think of a dog with his tail between his legs tucked under and pushed forward. If you're sitting, do you feel like your tailbone, your pelvis is tucked under and you're rounding your lower back, pushing your lower back into the. If you're on your back in an exercise class, have you been told to push your low back flatten your low back against the floor? All of these things result in a tucked under or posteriorly tilted pelvis, that's where the tailbone kind of curls underneath you and the hips tuck forward. And so your hip point is way in front of the rest of those points in your body. In that line that we talked about. So the first step is usually bringing your booty back, shifting your weight back over your midfoot. You don't want it to be in your heels. You don't want it to be in your toes. You kind of want it to be in that ankle midfoot area. Your glutes are relaxed. Okay, this is a glute free exercise standing. You don't need your butt to be squeezing and clenching. If you are a butt cruncher, this will be much more challenging for you. See if you can release, think about blossoming your booty, relax it. If you're standing, this is gonna be a lot easier to. Bring your hips back. Just slide them back or shift them back. If you're sitting. What I recommend is if you tend to notice that you're sitting kind of on your tailbone or back on your sacrum, you're pushing your low back into the, the chair behind you, then reach under and pull your butt from underneath you so that you can feel your sit bones, those bony parts of your butt that get sore. If you sit on a really hard surface, like bleachers, you wanna feel them underneath. You can also imagine your pelvis, if you put your hands on your hips. Okay. If that is a bowl, you're holding. Think about spilling water out of the front of that bowl. We're tipping it forward. Kind of sending the tailbone back behind us, relaxing it, releasing it, letting go of those butt muscles. Those Glu. Okay. So that's the first step most of the time. And if you correct the pelvis to start with, and I shouldn't say correct, I should say adjust because who am I to say that one alignment is bad and one is good, your body, and how you hold your body. That's happening for a reason. Most of the time, if you're tucked under and holding your glutes really, really tight, you may have lower back pain. You may be protecting from something you may be guarding. And so. Oftentimes, we need to bring that back, but it can take some time. And so think about it as an adjustment, as an awareness tool. Not necessarily, this is bad and this is good and we're moving towards the correct or perfect posture. There's no such thing as, as perfect posture. So think about shifting your booty. Oftentimes that will adjust the rest of your body and all the other pieces will fall into a better place. Once you bring the hips back, the booty back, the next component we wanna look at is your rib cage. So if you think about your broadband, what position is your broadband in? Is it angled up towards the ceiling with your back ribs, kind of pulling down to your pelvis and your chest pushing up towards the sky. This is often the case. If you have been told, stand up straight, when you're a kid or all your life stand up straight, what do we do? We, we ju our ribs forward and up and pull our shoulders back. As far as we can. I'm doing this as I'm explaining it to you as if you could. So if that's the case for you put a hand on the front of your ribs, right at your broadband and just sigh drop them down. So you want your broadband to be parallel with the floor. Okay. Nipples Or headlights, not skylights, drop them down, bring them down. And if you do this after you have already adjusted your hips. You might feel like, oh, I'm in a much more solid place here. I feel a little bit more stacked as we say. So the pelvis is right underneath the rib cage. We're not opening up the belly and kind of bringing the, the ribs up and forward and the pelvis tucked under. So in the adjusted position, you should feel a little bit more solid. Okay. It doesn't have to be perfect the first time you may also feel, Ugh. My low back is working. I feel those muscles and that's often the case. If we have been lengthening those muscles and tucking under and flattening our low back for a really long time, they haven't been doing their job. And so by sliding your hips back and untucking your pelvis or unfurling your pelvis, those muscles get a chance to work. Practice this whenever you think about it, when you're standing still, when you're walking, just walk. If you're riding your bike, just, just ride your bike. But if you're standing still in the grocery store line, doing dishes, see if you can untuck shift your pelvis back and drop those ribs down. Those two pieces are gonna be your BFFs. You're gonna really, really find that they make a big difference. The second tool we're gonna go over is the core. So this is a DIAP formatic breath. And I just want you to think about right now where you're listening, take a deep breath in what inflated was it all in your chest? Was it down in your belly? Was it kind of in your rib cage area? See, if you can go a little bit slower as you breathe in and shift that inhale into the backs and sides of your lungs. So you want it to almost be like you're inflating your bra band. Okay. Try a couple deep breaths. As you breathe in, it could be really helpful to have one hand on your chest. And one hand on your ribcage. Try not to let your chest hand move as you inhale or move very much, but let your ribs expand as much as you can. You'll have some spill over into your belly and that's perfect. If you are a belly gripper, an AB gripper. If you constantly have been sucking in your, your gut to your belly, your, whole life, or have been told to hold it tight because that's better for your core. This is gonna take some unlearning and it might sound crazy, but I want you to let your belly go. Okay. Now let it go again because you probably didn't release all the way. Especially as women. I notice this, we tend to hold tight in our belly because we think that it either a looks better or B we've been told that that's better for our core or C for whatever reason. And it actually changes how we breathe. We end up becoming more chest breathers. All of our air goes up into our chest, up into our neck and those neck muscles work extra. They don't need to. So if we can release our belly, we can get a deeper breath in and we get the more optimal, physiological way of breathing. So as you inhale, your ribs should expand. Your belly should expand. And your pelvic floor should lengthen and release. So as you inhale, imagine there's a balloon inside your pelvis and you are slowly filling it with air. Those muscles are responding and lengthening. And then as you breathe out, try rounding your lips as if you're blowing bubbles through a wand. So you're breathing out with a pursed lip position. I inhale, slow breath in everything expands. Lengthens beautifully. And then as you exhale, that's your chance to add a little bit of engagement now, instead of thinking belly button to spine, which a lot of fitness instructors use, and it's not necessarily a bad cue, unless it doesn't work for you. Right. We want effective cues that work for each person more often. I. Better core engagement from clients. If we focus on starting with the pelvic floor. So you can think about those muscles that you're sitting on or feel if you're, if you're sitting down between your sit bones or if you're standing, think about whatever is right over your ankles. Okay. That's space your perineum. You're going to think about lifting it up and in. Not just squeezing it. So if you've been doing a million KES at stoplights, you don't have to do that anymore. I'm giving you permission to stop. What you want to do is integrate your pelvic floor activation with your breath, which is more physiological anyways, and makes a lot more sense for movement. As far as exercise physiology goes. As you breathe out, you're going to engage your pelvic floor. You can think about picking up a blueberry with your vagina, lifting it up inside, setting it right back down. That release is just as important as the activation. You can also think about a. String a slack piece of string between your two sit bones. Okay. Imagine that. And as you lift with your pelvic floor, you are taking the slack up and out of that string, and then you bring it right back down, releasing that string. There's a million other kale cues I can give you. Think about what works best for you. If it's just visualizing your public floor, expanding as you breathe in and then activating and lifting as you breathe out, that's perfect. Whatever is most effective. When you're activating your pelvic floor, it does not need to be a hundred percent grip. It doesn't have to be the hardest work you've ever done with your pelvic floor. It just needs to be gentle. Like if you're picking up that blueberry, you don't wanna squish it. So try this with me, activate your pelvic floor a hundred percent as hard as you. Now, cut that down to 50% effort and cut it down again to 25% effort. That's all you need. It's very, very subtle. And if you tend to be a pelvic floor gripper, are you sensing a theme here? then focus more on the release of your pelvic floor rather than the activation. Chances are you have too tight of a pelvic floor. Those muscles are working in overtime and you need to focus on. Relaxing them letting them go. And that's where the core breath can be really useful for both, because it's think of a bicep curl. You don't just pull up. You can't just squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze at the top, because think about how tight and how worked and how tense that muscle's going to be. If you carried around your arm at the top of a bicep all day long, you want to be able to work through that full range of motion. So you let your arm go all the way down to straight and then all the way back up again. And so you're evenly working that muscle. So that's kind of the pelvic floor works a little bit differently than that, but that's a really good way to think about it. You wanna fully release the pelvic floor as you breathe in and then a slight lift as you breathe out, you might notice that. Pelvic floor lifts, but also your deep abs wrap around you to stabilize you. And that's exactly what we want. Why because that's where we have that stability. So as you breathe out and as you lift your pelvic floor, your abs click on and they say, oh, we're stable, we're secure. Okay. All systems go. And then you can do the thing and feel like your body is working together, working well for you. If we tend to hold our breath, which is a very common core breaking strategy, then we tend. Can put more pressure down on the pelvic floor or out forward. And that's a consideration. If you have diastasis recti that separation of your abs that can happen, or if you have prolapse, we don't want that pressure coming down onto the pelvic floor unnecessarily. Another common bracing strategy is activating the external core muscles. So the superficial glamor muscles, your obliques, your six pack, the rectus you're just squeezing kind of at the belly button area, holding tight, tight, tight, tight, tight throughout the entire movement. This I liken to squeezing a toothpaste tube without the cap on your cap is your pelvic floor. If that's not screwed on if it is not turned on and activated, then we're just pushing a ton of intra abdominal pressure downward onto that pelvic floor, which if we are lifting with this strategy lifting heavy weights, then often that can present itself as. Potential herniation. It can also lead to leaking with movement. And so if you tend to notice that every time I pick up this weight, every time I deadlift a hundred plus pounds, I leak a little bit, or I feel like I'm going to pee my pants. So if that's you. Take a moment. Go lighter for just a little while and see if you can nail down the strategy of exhaling as you lift, breathing out a little pelvic floor lift, as you are picking up that weight and see if that doesn't correct or feel better, you have less pressure to, to pee your pants when you're lifting and then slowly add weight to tolerance. In order to understand how to activate your deep core. We need to understand the anatomy a little bit. Now anatomy was my absolute favorite subject in school. I attended every single class in college. I sat in the front row and I memoriz. Every single muscle, every single bone and every single muscle attachment. But the more important thing that you understand is how the anatomy works, the physiology, because if we can memorize muscles cool. But if we don't know how they work, then that has no application for everyday life. So I want you to think about a trampoline. This is my favorite image. The pelvic floor and how it works. If you imagine and visualize a trampoline, maybe you have one in your backyard. You can look at there's a metal rim around the outside. Okay. And that is usually circular or rectangle, but typically circular. And then you have Springs and then you have the netting in order to get a really nice ebb and flow where the, the netting goes down and then Springs right back up and throws you up into the air. You need to have even tension on all of those Springs. Now, if you have a wonky frame, Imagine a windstorm came and that frame got toed and twisted. Then you have some Springs that have a lot more tension and some that are just kind of sitting there doing nothing. And if you were to bounce on that trampoline with the torque frame, Then you might get thrown off to the side. You might not get an even bounce one. Side's gonna bounce you harder than the other. Maybe you'd land harder. On one side, you don't have that beautiful tension that allows you to have that ebb and flow. The pelvis works the same way. So you can imagine, right, your two sit bones. You can feel them underneath you. If you're sitting or you can reach back underneath and feel your sit bone. Those are the two sides of your pelvis, your pubic joint in front, the bone right in front, and then your tailbone. Those are the, the front and back of your pelvis. So that kind of forms like a, a diamond shape. That is your metal rim. That is the rim of the trampoline, the muscles, the three layers of muscles inside that rim is the netting and the Springs. Now imagine if your pelvis is torque. So to speak from maybe a tailbone injury or one of your hips is off because of some muscle tension, or you have one side of your pelvic floor that's pulling way tighter than the other because of how you walk or how you move or a birth injury or something like that. Then you can imagine the pelvic floor does not have that ebb and flow just like the trampoline. So ideally the pelvic floor. Lengthens and releases drops down as if someone were bouncing into the trampoline and then it lifts and engages as if it's coming right back up as someone is launched into the air. So that is how that pelvic floor works. It should be doing that on every single breath cycle, which is weird to think about. I know, but as you inhale your diaphragm, your breathing DIAP. That's situated right inside of your rib cage. It pulls down, stretches out to the signs expands and in doing so pushes down on all of your internal organs, all of your guts, if you have a baby inside your baby, too. Right? And so that pressure has to go somewhere. It's like someone going down into the trampoline. So in response that pelvic floor needs to lengthen needs to let go. Move downward as you breathe in. And then as you exhale that diaphragm up at the top, back in your rib cage, again comes upward, pushes the air out of your lungs in doing so all of those guts, all of those abdominal contents move upward. And then there's more room for that pelvic floor to engage and lift. So if you think about that, that is the ebb and flow. Every single inhale, every single ex. Inhale. Everything it releases expands and lengthens. Okay. Try it with me. As you breathe in everything expands pelvic floor. Let's go belly. Let's go. Rib cage. Let's go. And as you breathe out, your belly engages your rib cage. Should. Should come right back down. Your pelvic floor should lift. That's your most stable position as you're exhaling. And so when you're sinking your breath with your movement, whether it be a deadlift, a squat, an overhead, press, a child, carry a car seat, carry. Then we need to think about where are we feeling most stable, our exhale, right? And so that's when we do the harder part of the thing, whatever it may be, whatever that task may be. So if you are reaching down to pick up a car seat, You can come down as you breathe in, as you exhale, start your breath, wait for that stability. Wait for that little hug of your belly of your abs. Wait till you feel secure and then continue to breathe out as you stand up holding that car seat. Whether you are doing an overhead press, you have the weight or the plate in your hands. You breathe into prepare. As you breathe out, you find that stability. Then you continue to exhale. Continue with that stability as you push the thing overhead onto the top shelf, or whether it's just an overhead press with. This applies to every single motion in life. Now I know what you're thinking. Oh my gosh. Do I have to do this for every single exercise in my entire workout? That will take me hours. Do I have to do this for the rest of my life, Natalie? No, the answer is no. Thankfully the goal is automation. We don't wanna have to think. Okay. Inhale. Okay. Exhale. K goal. Okay. Good. All systems go. Cool. Okay. Lift the thing, right. Especially if you're running or climbing stairs or hiking or. Rowing for that matter. Anything that you're doing continuously just breathe, exhale. When you feel like you need to exhale. But if you're doing something consciously, especially strength, training, or lifting things around your house, practice this breathing, inhale, prepare and lengthen, exhale to engage and feel stable, continue to breathe out as you do the thing. And so that, that prevents you from holding your breath and bracing that. And so over time, your brain will get the message you're creating new neural pathways in your brain to say, oh, when I lift something, my pelvic floor should be turned on. My AB should be turned on and not in a. Fill the diaper kind of movement, squeezing everything possible, but as a stability from the inside out, a nice stable exhale, and over time, you'll get faster at it. Your brain will understand it. Your body will understand it. You'll be automated and you won't have to think about it in such a step by step format. So first step work on your alignment, booty back ribs down, check yourself in the. mirror Ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. All in one line. Relax your booty. Step number two, breathe, inhale to expand, exhale, to engage. Step number three, coordinate your lifting, your moving with your breath. Inhale to prepare exhale, to engage, exhale with effort. Using those three tools, your workouts will get better. You'll likely be able to lift heavier. You'll likely have fewer symptoms of feeling like you have to pee your pants or that you're gonna leak when you lift something. Oftentimes this just helps you to engage your core in a way that you've never felt before. Most people who have tried this and get. And keep in mind, it can take you a couple weeks to actually get it, but keep practicing, give yourself grace in the process. People say, oh, I understand. Now my abs actually turn on when I lift my leg. How crazy is that? And so hopefully this will really help you in how you're working out, how you're moving, whether you're a higher level athlete or just getting started on your movement journey. If you would like more tips and tricks like this, where I break it down into steps for you. I am starting an email series on mindful movement, how to get started with it and how to structure your workouts starting next week. So be sure to sign firstname.lastname@example.org and you'll receive. Emails, never any spam from me. I promise not to spam you only helpful tips. I'll also put the link to sign up for my email list in the show notes for today's episode.Carolyn:
Welcome to the push corner with Carolyn and Lauren of mental push plan,Lauren:
bringing you mental tools to empower you through pregnancy birth and. Mindfulness is a key principle in the mental push plan workbook. And it is a fantastic way to check in with yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally To do this, not only do you need to be self-aware, but also be able to observe your mindset in a non-judgmental way, as in observing something for what it is and not labeling it as good or bad. This is something that can be hard to do. If it hasn't been practice before it takes time, effort, and consistencyCarolyn:
to show you what we mean. Let's take a minute to do a bit of practice right now, wherever you are listening. Right. Take a short break from anything else you might be doing, whether that's scrolling, typing an email or cooking. And if you can sit or stand with a nice long spine begin to observe your body in space, what parts of your body you're connected to the ground or perhaps something you are sitting on? Can you feel the sensation of your clothes, touching your skin? Maybe you notice parts of your body that are tense or experiencing discomfort, for instance, a nagging hip, or a sore neck or back as you notice, whatever is going on in your physical body right now, can you identify the sensation without labeling it? As in noticing there's a sensation in your hip? But not worrying about what's causing it or thinking about needing to schedule a PT appointment.Lauren:
It is through this continued practice practice practice of nonjudgmental observation that we can find calm, groundedness, easeCarolyn:
tune in next time for another mindful minute with us, As always, you already have all the mental strength you need. TheseLauren:
are just the tools to help you tap into it. Check out mental push plan.com or find us on Instagram to learn more.Natalie:
That's it for today. I hope you gained at least one tool that will help you in your journey towards more mindful movement. I'll catch you in the next episode. Just a reminder that what you hear on this podcast is not medical advice, but remember to always do your own research and talk to a trusted provider before making important decisions about your healthcare. If you found this podcast helpful, please consider leaving a five star review in your favorite podcast app and sharing with a friend. Thank you so much for listening.