Stop Drawing In Your Belly Button!
I am not a fan of focusing on aesthetics when I start working with a new mum, especially as the majority of the gorgeous women I work with have just been on this amazing & beautiful journey of carrying and giving birth to a tiny little miracle.
However, I am aware that the majority of mums would like to reclaim their bodies after having their little ones, start feeling energised again and look the best they can, which includes having a little less around the mid-section.
But what does having awesome abs mean to you?
Does it mean having a flat stomach?
Does it mean feeling like you are strong in your mid-section and that your pelvis is not going to give way if you lift a heavy item or your lower back is going to go out without you?
Does it mean losing that ‘muffin top’ that seems to like to hang around all over your pants?
Or does it simply mean feeling good about yourself when you go out with the love of your life or your girlfriends?
Whatever it means to you, having ‘awesome abs’ is something we should all work towards, especially from a functional perspective, so that we can live an active, healthy, fulfilled lives, both now and in the future.
Drawing in your belly button, or “engaging your core”, all the time is not a good thing to do for your body.
Though it might make you look aesthetically better, it does not support your body with functioning optimally.
Our core muscle system consists of your deep core muscles, which includes your diaphragm, transversus abodminis muscle (“corset” muscle), pelvic floor and multifidus (muscles that run between the vertebrae in the spine)
And it includes the muscles that are fundamental to the deep core working effectively, including your rectus abdominus (‘six-pack’ muscle), obliques (external & internal), gluteus maximus (buttock) and erector spinae (muscles on the spine).
For muscles to work effectively and efficiently, the need to be able to contract and relax to their full length when required and be able to work through their full range of motion.
If our belly button is drawn in the space in our abdominal cavity is reduced, and, therefore, the space for the diaphragm to contract and move down into on the inhale (breath in), which increases the pressure in the abdomen. This in turn hinders our ability to breath deeply, and, more importantly, affects the function and the demands on the rest of the core muscle system.
Think of it like a juice box. If you held a juice box gently around the side and gently blew into the straw, the air would get taken in and, if there was juice in the box, bubbles would be produced. But nothing else would happen.
Now, if you held the juice box tightly and did the same thing, the air would not have very much space to go into, so you would likely end up with the air and juice spirting back out the top. And, if you blew too hard, you may even see the juice box split open. Why? Because, the air has to go somewhere.
And that’s the same with the core muscle system. If your core muscle system is already pulled tight, and then it needs to contract to withstand more pressure, the pressure builds within the abdominal cavity, and there’s no where for the pressure to go except for up, down or out!
So, the result can potentially be:
- pelvic floor dysfunction
- prolapse (sagging or bulging of the pelvic organs into the vagina) or
- hernia (an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place).
And, well, a sucked in tummy sags when you finally breathe out and relax.
Therefore, we need to be able to turn on the core muscle system on when it is required, and relaxes when it is not needed.
We need to ensure that when we push, pull or perform any movement where there is an increase in intra-abdominal pressure in our bodies, that our transversus abdominus contracts when our core muscles engage, providing lower back and pelvis stability and preventing injury.
So, your challenge is to simply stop drawing in your belly button!
Relax and soften your belly when you are sitting, lying or whenever you are not loading your body, and let your core muscles relax.
Having a well functioning core muscle system will assist with repairing your diastasis recti (abdominal separation), improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your breathing, help restore your core and contribute to having awesome abs!