How to tell if an exercise is unsafe for your abdominals

How to tell if an exercise is unsafe for your abdominals

I was teaching a particular exercise in my Mummies and Buggies class there recently, and I mentioned the importance of observing and understanding what your stomach is supposed to look and feel like when you do an exercise or load it in a certain way.

Remember, my pregnancy exercise and Pilates, buggy fitness and general fitness and mainstream Pilates classes aren’t just a place where you come to work out – they’re also an education, and if you have a question – feel free to ask it before, during or after a class, ok?

I actually love that Doctors, Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and Osteopaths – in other words, people who more qualified than me – actually learn stuff in my sessions that they pass on to their own patients.

Pretty cool, right?

And, it’s quite possibly the most flattering thing ever when someone with more anatomy knowledge than me asks for advice on a particular body part, let me tell you!

Today, I’m sharing some important information on how you can determine yourself if an exercise is too hard for your abdominal muscles:

1 BREADLOAF

The telltale sign that an abdominal exercise is too hard/intense for you (regardless of whether you’re pregnant or postnatal, or neither of those) is when you perform the move, and your abdomen resembles a loaf of bread.

If you were to do a sit up, without really thinking about it, or you sit up out of the bath/bed unconsciously, you’re likely to sometimes see the middle of your belly, around the belly button push up and out.

If you ever get this sensation, it’s called “doming”, “pooching” or “breadloafing”, because it essentially means you’re not using your core muscles to do the exercise, your back isn’t particularly supported here and your six-pack muscles are taking the strain instead.

And, in true style – those muscles are telling you about it.  Isn’t the body wonderful?

2 SEVERE MUSCLE SORENESS

Image of Claire in the plank position
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Another reason you can tell an exercise is inappropriate for you is if you’ve been to a gym-based class, and a few hours after, or the very next day, you suffer with severe abdominal muscle soreness.

It could be because you did a lot of sit up/plank type exercises (which you might note I rarely do in my classes, why is that, do you think?).

Fair enough, you’ve worked muscles you haven’t worked for some time, and you’ll find some slight muscle soreness is generally experienced after a workout – this is perfectly fine.

However, if it’s severe aching/pulling, where you’re not able to perform movements in your day-to-day life without having to adapt your body, then you might want to rethink returning to that class until you’re abdominals are stronger and/or you’ve been checked for abdominal separation (diastasis recti).

3 BACK PAIN

Back pain is fairly synonymous with pregnancy and being postnatal (not that it need be, can I point out though).

When it comes to exercise, if your lumbar spine is in lockdown following a general fitness class, chances are, the intensity/style/number of reps of the exercise you performed was just too much.

If you experience back pain DURING an exercise, that is your back saying “red flag” right there – stop immediately!

Please don’t ever work through the pain – trust me – it ain’t worth it, ok?

You’ll be laid up for days, and you’ll most likely regret it.

Did you know I offer fitness and Pilates classes for everyone – not just pre/postnatal women?

So, if you’ve had your baby a while ago…

…or you’re looking to continue your exercise journey with me…

…safe in the knowledge that you’ll be exercising in a simple and effective way for your back, pelvic floor and abdominals…

…check out my Beginners Pilates and Little Black Dress Workout classes in West Bridgford.

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Claire Mockridge
Claire Mockridge is an Ante/Postnatal Fitness Expert, Pilates Teacher and Train-the-Trainer. She's worked with over 1000+ pregnant and postnatal women and enjoys empowering and educating her clients on safe and effective exercise. Claire is a Health Columnist for the Nottingham Evening Post, a Health Expert for BBC Radio Nottingham, regularly writes for the national press and is the Winner of Theo Paphitis' Small Business Sunday Award.

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