(I love this exercises because it can also be done sitting in a car or in a chair. It is basically a gentle breathing exercise, but after a few repetitions the muscles can be felt working hard.)
Starting Position: Stand about one foot away from the wall, with your feet positioned hip distance apart, toes facing forward and your knees slightly bent.
1. Using your hands for support, lean your torso back onto the wall.
2. Align your spine in the neutral position, vertical pelvis, sacrum, ribcage and the back of your head touching the wall. Make sure to have a small gap between your waist and the wall.
3. Inhale deeply through your nose, expanding your ribcage three dimensionally.
4. Exhale slowly, hissing through your teeth. At the same time, pull your belly inward as much as you can. Maintain neutral spine—don't try to flatten your back, or allow the sternum to move downward.5. You should not be sucking in your stomach or holding your breath, but engaging your TVA muscles.
5. Hold your belly in as you inhale deeply through the nose, once again expanding your ribcage three dimensionally.
6. Repeat the exhale/hissing with abdominal compression sequence two more times. Make sure to keep your belly tight during inhalations.
7. After the third repetition, exhale deeply, release your muscular effort and allow your belly to expand naturally. Take care not to push your belly out at the end.
8. Perform four repetitions.
Note: This exercise should not be a challenge for your thighs. If your legs get tired, move your heels a little closer to the wall. If you are finding it challenging to isolate your TVA muscles try doing the same exercise in a hands and knees position.
Pelvic Tilt Exercise on a Wall
1. Perform the first five steps (1–5) of the Transverse Abdominus Isolations on a Wall.
2. On your second exhalation, with your TVA engaged, flex your lower spine, pulling your pubic bone up toward your sternum as much as you can. Your lower back will lengthen and press into the wall. Make sure not to move your upper spine. Keep the back of the neck long.
3. Make sure to keep your buttocks relaxed and soft. Tightening of the buttocks during pelvic tilts dramatically reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. In order to ensure that you relax your buttocks during pelvic tilts, place your hands on the muscles as you perform the pelvic tilt. This will help you feel what your muscles are doing and encourage proper muscular coordination.
4. Inhale deeply, expanding your ribcage while maintaining the tightness of the TVA muscles.
5. Exhale; relax your muscular effort, allowing your pelvis to roll back into the neutral position and your belly to expand naturally.
6. Perform eight repetitions.
Side Abdominal Exercise: Hip Hiking
Starting Position: Lie on your side with your top leg straight and bottom leg bent. Your head can rest on your outstretched bottom arm in a comfortable position or you can use a small pillow to support your head.
1. Raise top leg about 2 inches and hold in this position.
2. Then, use your abdominal muscles at your side to pull the hip toward your shoulder keeping the top leg straight as you pull. Hold 5 seconds.
3. Repeat 10 times. Note: Your bottom leg will not move during this exercise.
Abdominal Curl Up***
Warning: This exercise is only for early pregnancy and only if you do not already have abdominal separation! If you are not sure please check my previous article “Abdominal Muscle Changes During Pregnancy” on how to do a self-assessment for diastasis recti.
Starting Position: Lying on your back with your knees bent. Your hands can be behind your head or across your chest.
1. Raise your head and shoulders and reach toward your knees until you feel your shoulder blades lift off the floor. You do not need to lift past this point.
2. Repeat 3 sets with 10 curl ups in each set.
*** After four months of pregnancy you should be careful to avoid lying on your back for longer than three minutes at a time because it can place pressure on your large blood vessel, the inferior vena cava. This can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your baby. Also, as noted above in the warning, do not perform this exercise without checking for separation of your abdominal muscles first; it is only safe to do this exercise if your rectus abdominus has not separated by more than 1 inch.