When it’s time to progress your exercises from lying on the floor
In any sort of rehabilitation phase of a muscle or area of the body, there’s a set of protocols that any thorough practitioner will cover.
This is to ensure not only do you recover as quickly as possible, but that you are then well equipped to go out and live actively – without the risk of pain, aches, injury or accidentally ‘tweaking’ anything (if you have an unstable neck or back you will understand exactly what I mean by the word tweaking).
One of these protocols is to get your body upright once the correct muscles have been activated lying down. In the lying position (known as non-axial loading) the muscles do not have to support you against gravity, and it’s easier to learn how to activate the ones that are fast asleep from there.
Once you have reached some milestones with exercise on the floor, it’s time to stand up and learn how to co-ordinate them all working in gravity (know as axial loading). Life is lived upright, not lying on the floor. And those injuries and pains I mentioned above rarely occur lying on a comfy mat.
If you can activate your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis (TrA), as well as breathe into the diaphragm standing up, you’re ready to start integrating exercises into your post natal routine – and the squat one of the best places to start.
There are 2 foot positions – and unless you have been advised by a health professional not to squat in one of these positions, due to aches or injuries, it’s useful to do both.
(Disclaimer – always check with your health professional that it is safe for you to do any of the exercises on this site)
KEY POINTS to a great post natal squat: activation and co-ordination stages:
– Activate the feet – spread the toes, place the weight back on the heels and towards the outside of the feet
– Stand tall with the arms out in order to keep the chest up and thoracic spine long
– Draw the pelvic floor and TrA in together slowly: hold as you squat down then stand up
At the bottom of your squat – knees are outside the big toe, and check that the pelvic floor is activated (it’s not pushed down or heavy). If it is, you have gone too low for your current strength level.
– Once you are back to standing, allow everything to release by taking a deep, diaphragmatic breath. Remember to release the pelvic floor is not pushing down on it – it’s just letting it slowly relax by itself. The breath will allow this to happen automatically.
Build up to 20 repetitions in each foot position with the 1 full squat, 1 full breath ratio. This entrains the pattern with proper pelvic floor/core integration into the nervous system.
In post natal exercise (no matter how long ago you had your baby/ies) the pelvic floor leads the exercise. If you can no longer activate it, or it’s feeling fatigued, the exercise is done, even if the rest of you can keep going. Otherwise you create a bigger gap between strong and weak muscles.
Why do we need to move our exercises from lying down to standing up?
The ability of a muscle to both activate (wake up and work), and then co-ordinate (successfully play nice with all of the other muscles in a movement) is pattern specific.
This means you can be an expert at kegels on the floor, and still not know how to use your pelvic floor in walking, running, lifting your kids, putting shopping in the car (you know – basically living).
So we teach the body how to do these things consciously for a short while – in order for them to become automatic, (a.k.a – fun, active life minus pains, leaks and stress about your body).
If you haven’t done the “lying on the floor” version of a squat exercise, before you progress to this one above – start with this exercise here