Lately I have been focusing on strengthening and toning my body. I wouldn’t mind losing 5 or 10 more pounds, but it’s not the focus of my exercise routine these days. My intent is to feel stronger and more physically capable, as well as to look more toned and have defined muscles. I feel like as long as I focus on that and on doing things that make me happy in my life I am drawn to eating nourishing foods and to taking good care of my body, resulting in a healthy body weight.
Ever since learning about my abdominal separation (diastasis recti) and my pelvic organ prolapse I have worked hard at strengthening my core with safe stomach exercises. When I stopped doing common abdominal exercises (i.e. sit-ups) I learned how to activate my pelvic floor and my TVA muscles by consciously engaging them. I started with very simple breathing exercises in which I was lying down with my back on the floor, or being up on my hands and knees. Over time, I have learned to activate my core in more challenging, yet safe TVA exercises. I have managed to close my diastasis gap, as well as to improve my prolapse, and generally strengthen my core. However, recently I have wondered, what’s the next step up?
Most of the more difficult TVA exercises involve lifting both of my legs off the floor while doing sit-up types of poses. For now I do not want to do any of these exercises. I do not want to risk opening my diastasis up again, and I do not want to place any extra pressure on my pelvic floor, to avoid aggravating my prolapse.
In other parts of my body, such as with arm and leg exercises I can keep raising the weights I use, while building my muscles and increasing my strength from week to week. However, with TVA strengthening exercises I feel limited. I should not add weights to my standing balancing poses, because that can put too much downward pressure on my pelvic floor. Until now my main strategy has been to increase the number of repetitions, but that is starting to feel boring and is also taking a long time out of each workout.
Last week was the first time in a very long time that I felt like my TVA was really working hard. I actually felt sore in those deep TVA muscles. And guess what, the exercise did not even take any extra time. If you can effectively activate your TVA muscles you can do this exercise too!
Simply learn to engage your TVA muscles throughout the day.
I took one day in which I tried to do it all day long, whenever I remembered. I already do it during my usual exercise routine, but that’s never more than an hour, and never more than a few times each week. So now I mainly added it to all the time that I sit in front of my computer. The hardest part is to keep breathing in a relaxed manner. I keep finding myself holding my breath, but then I relax it and let it flow naturally. It’s also great to activate your TVA while you’re standing in the kitchen cooking or washing dishes. Follow this link to see how strengthen your core with a piece of string to help you remember to activate your TVA throughout your day.
Personally I have found that activating my TVA muscles does not feel good when I’m stressed, when I’m bloated from indigestion or from my menstrual cycle, or when I feel too full from over-eating. When I am stressed, such as in the morning rush of getting my kids out the door, or in the evening chaos of cooking dinner, helping my kids with homework, feeding, bathing and bedtime, I find it too stressful to also activate my TVA. When I have done it during stressful times, I seemed to get knots in my stomach. So there are days and hours when I choose to relax my belly completely, and I recommend the same to others.
Let me know if you try this and how it works for you.