Mummy Tummy Troubles? Try Pilates.
Let’s face it: We can’t all be Chrissy Teigen. But if you think only supermodels can have a slim waist or only men can have a six-pack, think again.
A nice, firm mid-section before and after pregnancy is possible with ab sculpting Pilates exercises. Even if you already have a mummy tummy, AKA the mom pooch (or a muffin top, love handles, beer belly or so on), you may want to consider Pilates instead of crunches or a crash diet.
To understand how Pilates can help, let’s first take a look at how mom pooches form, along with other causes of tummy flab. We’ll also take a look at supposed mom pooch solutions, and why Pilates ab sculpting exercises could prove to be more effective.
How a Mom Pooch is Born
The way the body makes way for the bun in the oven is a wonder of nature in its own right. Unfortunately, once the air is let out of the balloon, so to speak, the tummy tends to look as deflated and wrinkly as its rubber counterpart, instead of reverting to its pre-pregnancy form. The obvious challenge would then be to improve the mid-section’s skin turgor and muscle tone.
But the root of the problem lies in the abdominal muscles, where a condition called Diastasis Recti separates the muscles that make up the six-pack. These muscles are connected in the middle by the linea alba, which is the white area you can see in the front part of the illustration below.
Picture credit: By OpenStax College – https://cnx.org/contents/FPtK1zmh@8.108:y9_gDy74@5, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64291130
The separation of the muscles takes place as the tummy extends to accommodate the growing foetus. As the baby grows, these muscles can stretch up to 50% of their original length. Diastasis Recti is also caused by rapid weight gain, heavy lifting, and heavy-duty abdominal exercises.
You can tell at sight whether a person has this condition if you see a ridge-like bulge in the middle of the abdomen. There’s also a “touch test” which you can take by lying flat on your back and slowly lifting your head above the surface while running your hands long the linea alba. If you feel something protruding, then Diastasis Recti is the culprit.
Watch the video below for a demonstration of how the test is done.[ Embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvybTZiLqRE ]
Other Tummy Flab-Causing Factors
If you’ve determined that Diastasis Recti isn’t behind your jelly belly, then there are other ways tummy flab may be formed, some of which aren’t as obvious as you might think. Medical News Today identifies the following on top of the usual bad diet, drinking and inactivity:
- Stress, with which the body copes by releasing a hormone called cortisol, which unfortunately also causes extra calories to accumulate round the tummy to be used when called for.
- Genetics, which some findings suggest can influence a person’s chances of becoming obese along with behaviour and environment.
- Lack of sleep, which research has linked to excess tummy fat—this refers to sleep quality as well as duration.
- Smoking, which, while it doesn’t directly cause flab formation, has been linked by a study to be a risk factor for developing it.
Rectifying Diastasis Recti
Now if Diastasis Recti is the cause of your mummy tummy, let’s get some bad news out of the way first: there’s no cure.
The good news, however, is that there are things you can do about it to improve the way a mum tum looks. If you take another look at the inset of the illustration above, you’ll see the muscle called the Transversus abdominis (AKA “internal girdle”), which studies say plays a key role in preventing and correcting Diastasis Recti.
But if you’d rather not wait for the results of a Transversus abdominis workout, there’s also the surgical route to mom pooch removal which is better known as the tummy tuck. Also technically referred to as abdominoplasty, this highly invasive procedure involves sewing the muscles back together to tighten up the abdomen for quick results.
Don’t Work Out Hard—Work Out Smart
Find yourself shuddering at the prospect of long incisions being made on your tummy and running the risk of scars? Then exercise presents a friendlier method of melting the muffin top. With the goal of shedding pregnancy pounds and strengthening your core muscles, a conscientious exercise plan could very well do the trick.
Be advised, however, that not all exercises touted as tummy flab fighters are your friend; in fact, some of them—like the crunch—might even make your mummy tummy worse. Yes, you read that right: crunches aren’t always the go-to for a streamlined waistline, which is why finding out whether Diastasis Recti is responsible for your mom pooch is paramount.
There are studies that show that isolated abdominal work may not be the most effective way to build core strength. One such study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2013 compared isolation core exercises (e.g crunch, oblique crunch, extensions) and integrative core exercises (eg. mountain climber plan, side hover, pointer with resistance bands.
The study concluded that it was the integration exercises that engaged the abdominal muscles more, versus the isolated abdominal workout. So instead of just working out pell-mell thinking it’s bound to burn belly fat one way or another anyway, focus on targeting the right muscles to firm up your core, which is exactly what Pilates is all about.
Ab Sculpting with Pilates
Certain core and postural principles in Pilates are effective in not just putting you on the track towards a six-pack, but addressing Diastasis Recti and improving a mom pooch. This is because Pilates engages the Transversus abdominis muscle as well as the pelvic floor. Not only does Pilates correct the condition, but prevents it in future pregnancies.
The beauty of Pilates is that it places minimal stress on many other structures while strengthening support muscles. This makes Pilates a much less stressful means of making over a mum tum with the same effectiveness as more energetic exercises such as cardio—another piece of good news, particularly for new, already stressed-out mums.
And as an added bonus, Pilates can be done in the comfort of your own home (so you can keep the baby close). Take note, however, that there are certain other Pilates exercises that might make a muffin top worse, so having the advice of a certified Pilates instructor is recommended.
Find a Pilates instructor you can count on to chisel your abs and solve your mom pooch problems at Pilates Plus. Enrol now or find out how you can test the waters at a trial session, today.