There is often a lot of conflicting information on abdominal strength work and core bracing during pregnancy. Far too often, women are instructed to avoid all core strength work throughout their pregnancy. They also frequently get poor information on how to properly brace their core.
At Onward Physical Therapy, one of the most prescribed exercises our women’s health physical therapists give clients is how to properly perform core bracing during pregnancy.
How often have you been told to “tighten your core like someone is going to punch you in the stomach” as you prepare for a heavy lift, only to feel your upper abdominals fire instead of the entire core?
Unfortunately, this type of bracing pattern leads to top-down pressure management, overuse of our upper abdominals, and dumps a lot of pressure down into our pelvic floor. This can often be a contributor to issues such as incontinence, pelvic floor pain, and lower back pain.
How to Brace Your Core While Pregnant?
Instead of leading with your shoulders and ribs to close down your abdominal wall, think of the following:
- As you inhale, focus on filling the side ribs and lower abdominals with air
- Think of “zipping up” through your pelvic floor and lower abdominals during the exhale. You will picture your hip bones being drawn closer together
- Finally, wrap your obliques (side core muscles) around you like a corset.
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Pairing this with banded shoulder flexion is a great coordination exercise to work on timing and get the anterior chain firing more efficiently!