Post Natal Core Exercises - the Do's, Dont's & Why's - Burrell Education

Post Natal Core Exercises – CRUNCHING – the Do’s, Dont’s & Why’s

I had a thought the other day, that I was glad I wasn't a Post Natal woman seeking to find good information regarding Post Natal Core Exercises......turn to every outlet (on-line and off-line) and there's tons of information on the DONT'S but where are the DO'S? and the WHY'S?  As I have the pleasure of teaching both moms and fitness professionals, I'm absolutely sure I'd have neither business if I didn't show my clients the amazing possibilties for core restoration programming and the wonder of movement along with truly explaining the why's and the dont's.  DO'S & DONT'S don't mean a lot without the WHY'S.

So here's one big issue when we start talking about Post Natal Core Exercise -"DON'T DO CRUNCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" So let's do the WHY'S and the DO'S!

1.  The still-healing, Post Natal core doesn't in general respond too well to PRESSURE.  Traditional crunches make pressure.  Pressure builds against a still-healing abdominal wall and any healing Diastasis.  Pressure builds and is forced down towards the Pelvic Floor which if not strong/functional enough to do it's job of supporting the sphincters, leads to issues such as Stress Urinary Incontinence or uncontrolled flatulence or 'queefing'.

THE FIX: Our first job when starting to work with this client-base is to check for and teach INTRINSIC CORE SYNERY ie., as the client EXHALES - respiratory diaphragm ELEVATES, tummy should be flattening, Pelvic Floor should be activating and tensioning, low back should be activating and tensioning.  Check this is actually happening as it often is not when the woman returns to exercise and take time to coach and help her get this is lying, seating and eventually standing before you every dream to start loading with exercise.

2.  Most people perform 'crunches' on automatic pilot with very little 'core consciousness' - no emphasis on timing the exhale with the concentric (coming up) phase of the exercise which is when the downward and outward pressure really builds.  They probably also come up too high (making unnecessary/unhelpful pressure), don't use Pelvic Floor visualizations to improve connection and activating the right stuff at the right time and don't know when enough is enough.

THE FIX & WHY:  Check out the client with a still healing abdominal wall, performing her  'self-designed' crunch - ouch! Then view her performing the crunch under coaching.......what changed?

1.  Legs are lengthened and toes are pointed to integrate the abdominal wall, especially the RA back into the Superficial Front Line

2.  The client is asked to work with a pre-tension of the core by preceeding all work by literally voicing the word "SET", noting and maintaining the increase in tension BUT, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, continuing to breath normally.  This creates a sub-maximal tension that then aids the transmission of the 'work' to come.

3.  The lift is very low.

4.  The client is cued to EXHALE SLOWLY in time with the lift and visualize the respiratory diaphragm lifting along with the Pelvic Floor - THIS IS CUED TO HER EVERY REP, no leaving this to chance....if you are coaching....COACH!



What we say and how we cue the client is KING.  Our job is to coach, correct and congratulate.  When programming Post Natal core exercise EVERYTHING must be clear and unambiguous, your clients' Pelvic Health is relying on your clarity!  If the client is connected enough, doesn't have a healing Diastasis/Hernia and a PF that can withstand pressure, this amended version is such a better move than the traditional version but ultimately the BIG QUESTIONS are simply 'How functional is a supine crunch and how does it really prepare the client for the Activities of Daily supine work the best way to train someone who needs functional integrated strength in the standing position???  PROBABLY NOT (sorry Pilates massive 🙂 ).  Shopping and children are carried whilst women are standing.  Houses are cleaned and laundry done whilst women are standing, buses are ran for and prams are hauled up stairs whilst women are standing so let's get them match fit and strong for their REAL LIVES!

3.  Most people aren't aware of STANDING, FUNCTIONAL, INTEGRATED MOVEMENT and applying Fascial Line principles to Post Natal core restore so that in the end the job is re-uniting the core with the greater global unit (arms, legs and whole body movement). Standing is how we live, moms spend most of their day on their feet, let's create training that is FIT FOR PURPOSE.....if you mainly perform lying down exercise with your Post Natal clients, at some point you've got to progress their restorative work to get them standing and learning how to have confidence when moving.  Here's two samples of modern, integrated, functional Post Natal core exercises based on MOVEMENT - NOT JUST MUSCLES.  This is content from my Modern Pregnancy Exercise CPD and Modern Post Natal Exercise CPD Courses......

THE FIX: Vertical, functional, integrated exercise like this.....

 If you're in the UK, join me LIVE this year for some very modern Pregnancy Exercise and Post Natal Exercise SHIZZLE! Guaranteed to get your clients results and keep you super excited about what you do!

on line

 & if you're in the UK and can't travel or anywhere else in the world, I think you'll love the brand new Advanced CPD in Modern Post Natal Assessment, Core Restore & Functional Exercise Programming – ON-LINE/GLOBAL CERTIFICATION

'Class' started on Monday 1st September with the full capacity of students all dedicated to GOING DEEPER!…..Click the link above to view the contents and hopefully see you in cyberspace for the next intake in 2015!

mom and baby



3 Responses to Post Natal Core Exercises – CRUNCHING – the Do’s, Dont’s & Why’s

  1. Jade July 31, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    I was enjoying and agreeing with a very well written piece that describes an approach that is very similar to mine, and then…ouch! ???? A snippy comment about Pilates! What a shame and how unnecessary. Perhaps I missed a wider context? I don’t think you need to be negative about another method to promote your own.

    • Lucy November 25, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

      Very well said. It didn’t come across well, wasn’t necessary and doesn’t sound very professional.

  2. Amy March 21, 2019 at 12:50 pm #

    I.felt the exact same way. Pilates is not only done in supine and I would never bring post natal clients into flexion. Sounds like this person doesn’t know what pilates really is and the plethora of techniques that are very effective for post natal recovery….including standing work!!

Leave a Reply