Should I strengthen my abs throughout pregnancy? Yes. Is it recommended to do crunches during these nine months? No.
Most of us are surprised to hear that during pregnancy, though you want your deep core muscles to stay strong, crunches and other abdominals requiring a flexion of the spine are not recommended. And because to most of us, abdominals equate to crunches, it gets confusing. Don’t get me wrong I do like crunches, but I believe they are only a small part of what I call « the bigger abdominal pictures ».
If you are pregnant, you will want to learn about the other options. The main rationale behind that is to avoid getting diastasis recti, more commonly known as « the gap », after giving birth.
If you have ever spoken to a new mum, you have heard about « the gap ». 2 out of 3 moms who have had two kids or more have been reported to experience diastasis recti.
What exactly is diastasis recti?
The six-pack that a lot of us thrive for is primarily the external manifestation of a muscle in the center of our belly called the rectus abdominis. As the belly grows, this central muscle relaxes and abdominals separate at the linea alba.
It does not affect the way your belly looks or feels during pregnancy, but it certainly could after. If you work the rectus abdominis throughout the nine months, you are likely…
–To make this muscle stronger in its separated position, and to have a harder time « closing the gap » between the two halves of the muscle post-partum.
–to have the connective tissue between the two sides of the six pack tear. A tear can itself lead to an umbilical hernia.
For a more medically-oriented article, feel free to consult the following website http://www.surreyosteopathiccare.co.uk/diastasis-recti-abdominal-separation/
One other reason why you may be encouraged to avoid curling your spine is simple: Contracting the rectus abdominis often feels uncomfortable, particularly in your first trimester -a lot of changes are occurring in that area, and in your third trimester -your belly is then well … cumbersome!
I have designed a crunch-free series of exercises for you to work your core safely and effectively. Below is the first video. The key to performing them properly is to keep a flat or « neutral » back by using your transverse abdominis. No arching, no tucking. Do 10 repetitions of each exercise, and repeat twice!