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Post Pregnancy Abdominal Routine - The Sahrmann Technique

Pregnancy puts a huge strain, not just physically but emotionally on a new mother. During this early recovery period, a woman may have a negative body image and lack abdominal tone. To allow your baby’s growth during pregnancy your skin and stomach muscles have stretched and weakened. But don’t be too discouraged as these will take time to return to their original state but by doing the specific exercises shown in this article, you can speed up this abdominal recovery!

Abdominal exercises designed by the physical therapist Shirley Sahrmann target the lower abdominals without putting too much stress on the post pregnancy abdomen and back that traditional sit-ups do. This sequence of exercises eliminate stress on the lower back and also the diastasis recti - a thinning and widening of the connective tissue between the recti muscles that occurs during pregnancy.

The series of exercises gradually get harder and harder allowing your abdominals to strengthen and tone progressively. Try not to move through the exercises too quickly as you risk recruiting other muscles group to aid in the movement and possibly cause injury.

Sahrmann Abdominal Rehabilitation Exercises

Before you can start Step One you need to master the basic breath. This will teach you how to isolate and control your abdominal muscles as you move your legs through a series of exercises.

1.) Lie on your back with your arms at your side, knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Inhale and exhale a few times.

2.) Don't flatten your back or tilt your pelvis, just let the natural curve in your back remain. Breathe in slowly and deeply.

3.) Now breathe out and tighten your abdominal muscles, pulling your navel towards your spine. Remember to concentrate on contracting the muscles below your belly button and don't flatten your back.

When you are able to contract and relax your abdominal muscles without moving your back, you have learned to properly isolate the correct muscles. You can then try the next step

Step One
Figure 1 Figure 2

1. Lie on the floor with knees bent, feet resting on floor and arms at your side (see Figure 1).
2. Hold your abs in by doing your basic breath contraction. Keep breathing as you hold the muscles in and, keeping one leg bent, slowly slide the other leg out until it is straight with the floor and then slide back up to bent knee position (see Figure 2). Relax your abdomen.
3. Repeat the process for the other leg. Remember don't flatten you back and keep the curve relaxed.
4. When your abdominal muscles are contracted, it helps to stabilize your pelvis while your legs and lower ab muscles work. This prevents strain in your back muscles, and it trains your abdominal muscles to protect and support your spine. When you can comfortably do 20 legs slides on each side, you can move to the next step.

Step Two
Figure 3 Figure 4

1. Lie on floor with knees bent, feet resting flat on the floor and arms at side.
2. Pull in on your tummy and hold, then raise one knee towards your chest (see Figure 3) and slowly straighten it out parallel to (about two to three inches above the floor) but not touching the floor (see Figure 4).
3. Return extended leg to starting position, knees bent, feet resting on floor and relax your tummy.
4. Repeat on opposite side, keeping one knee always bent as you extend the other leg. Work up to five repetitions on each side without stopping, building to 20 repetitions or more on each side.

Once you can do 20 reps on each leg you can move onto Step 3

Step Three
Figure 5 Figure 6

1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your arms at your side (see Figure 5).
2. Use your basic breathing as you bring your legs up one at a time toward your body with knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
3. Keep one leg bent as you slowly lower the other leg down to the floor and back up (see Figure 6). Repeat on the opposite side, working up to 20 times each leg.

If you can comfortably do 20 repetitions each leg of Step 3, you are ready to move on to Step 4

Step Four
Figure 7 Figure 8
1. Do your basic breathing as you bring both legs up and bend knees to 90 degrees (see Figure 7).
2. Slowly extend one leg out parallel with the floor but not touching it (see Figure 8).
3. Bring the leg back and repeat with opposite leg. Work up to 10 repetitions each leg.
4. With each repetition, remember to keep breathing. Contract your abdomen as you move your leg, and don't let your back pop up. If the arch in your back keeps popping up during the exercise, it means you're not strong enough to progress to this level and need to go back to the previous exercise until you build greater strength.

You may try this exercise when you can do Step 4 20 times each leg while maintaining your abdominal contraction without your back arching

Step Five
Figure 9 Figure 10
1. Using your basic breathing, bring both legs to your chest one at a time.
2. Straighten both legs up at a 90 degree angle from your hip (see Figure 9).
3. Slowly lower your legs down together toward the floor (see Figure 10). Go only as far as it feels comfortable, and if you feel your back beginning to arch, bring your legs back up and lower them again only to the point where you notice your back arching. Work up to 20 repetitions.
4. If you notice back pain with this exercise, discontinue doing it and maintain at Step 4.

Step 5 may not be appropriate for women who have low back pain.

With each exercise, remember to keep breathing, contract your abdominals as you move your leg and don't let your back pop up. If the arch in your back keeps popping up during the exercise, it means you're not strong enough to progress to this level, and you need to go back to the previous exercise until you build greater strength

Work through each stage nice and gradually making sure you can comfortably do the 20 reps per leg before moving on. It is a great progressive abdominal plan that can be easily added into your daily schedule and done from home.

Enjoy the benefits of the training!

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