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Showing posts from 2014

Postpartum Stomach Exercises – What You Are Doing Wrong

My latest submission to the Core Expections blog:

New moms are viciously critical of their postnatal bodies, especially their abdomens. It never ceases to amaze me how self-critical women can be after achieving the ultimate feat of strength – growing and delivering a baby. Sadly, at this moment of our greatest strength we can be left feeling our weakest. It is my job to strengthen new moms for their demanding lives, and we work from the foundation up. 

Working with a trainer who can teach you exercises to restore your core is imperative. Only through a custom-targeted restorative program can you ensure that both functional and aesthetic results are achieved. Moms often “go-it-alone” and in doing so can inadvertently undermine their own progress. Nothing is more frustrating than “spinning your wheels”! Exercise takes effort, and without results it becomes seemingly pointless. Frustration kills motivation and it’s a vicious cycle. Here are the ineffective things I frequently …

Running is such a privilege

It is Fall again and with the cool weather I have the itch to run. I have not run much since completing the Mississauga Half Marathon in 2012. I took the summer off as I usually do, then began focusing on weight lifting through 2013. I never run in the summer, so here I am in the fall of 2014 feeling the itch.

I do believe that a 5k 3x week run program is the perfect cardio component in a comprehensive fitness program. I have certainly been lacking my cardio component since focusing on lifting weights. I also have been busy and as a single mom it can be hard for me to get out to run- the garage home gym is easy access when my kids are sleeping. I have been feeling inclined to reintroduce running for fitness balance, maintaining not only my cardiovascular health but also increasing the effectiveness of my strength training by incorporating more rest on my run days (I do tend to over train when I get motivated and goal driven). 

I have done a lot of studying and field work on the subject …

Flexing Your Mental Muscles

Studying with Marc Lebert at the CanFitPro conference this summer I learned a new way to set goals. Marc's lecture was titled "flex your mental muscles" and I found it very interesting.

The conscious minds drive the unconscious, and we live mostly in our unconscious mind. Think about brushing your teeth, driving your car, and other daily tasks that we do on automatic without conscious coordination. It's how we learn and function. It has a place, but we live too much in our unconscious mind.
Let's analyze a goal such as "I want to lose weight". The only word that we can visualize is "weight". You cannot visualize "want" and "lose" is a negative thing. This encourages the conscious mind to drive the unconscious with images of "weight" and most likely, that weight you want to lose. This will create a mental image of an overweight self, accompanied by all the feelings surrounding that image. Because the un…

Advanced Strength training with Diastasis Recti

In many cases it can take months to rehabilitate a core. Any separation of the diastasis recti (DR) must be closed and the connective tissue (CT) must be strengthened to support a functional core. The pelvic floor must be activated and strengthened and the multifidus must be stimulated optimally. As you strength train with a DR, you may want to increase the difficulty of your exercises to challenge your increasing strength. There are ways to do this safely and effectively and monitor for any discomfort accordingly, especially in the pelvis.

Base of support
By decreasing the base of support for an exercise, you can increase the challenge of balance. You can accomplish this by using a stability or BOSU ball. Increasing the inflation will result in a smaller base support. You can also change the base of support by moving from a four-point support to a three- or two-point support. For example, to increase the level of difficulty of a hip thrust/back bridge dip, assume a figur…

The Outer Unit- Slings

Many factors contribute to non-optimal pelvic stability control, which can result in pelvic girdle and lower back pain. Today I was lucky enough to take a lecture from the Chek Institute on SI joint pain. I loved what Dan Hellman said about "SI" pain, as I have said the same thing. It is an ambiguous term for a generalized feeling of pain in the lower back area. I always say "SI" pain is like "IBS" to me- it's a very non-specific description of symptoms.

One thing he discussed today in regards to assessing and strengthening to eliminate SI joint pain was sling systems. The posterior sling is comprised of the glute maximus and the contralateral latissimus dorsi. Another consists of the working relationship between the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, ipsilateral adductors and contralateral QL. These (and other) slings comprise the functional "outer unit". Understanding the functional relationship between muscles across these slings can help …

Strength Training with a Diastasis Recti

I published this article on the amazing Maternal Goddess website in March.
Strength Training With a Diastasis Recti
A diastasis recti (DR) is created by intra-abdominal pressure. In most cases it will occur from pregnancy, but there are other possible causes such as abdominal loading with poor technique (“pushing out” while weight training for example), obesity, constipation, and chronic cough. If you have been assessed with a DR it is imperative that you work with a core restorative trainer to rehabilitate the dysfunctional core.

Many women become apprehensive to strength train with a DR. It can be difficult to know what exercises are safe and effective to use to refrain from making the DR worse (which is possible) and/or undermining the rehab work.
Any movements that cause intra-abdominal pressure are contraindicated. These include forward flexion movements from a supine position such as crunches, v-sits and sit-ups. Supine leg lifts should also be avoided.

Until a DR is clo…

Exercising and Breastfeeding

Research has shown that moderate exercise has no effect on a nursing mother’s milk supply, composition, or baby’s growth. Exercise supports breastfeeding by improving the new mom’s overall well being- physically, emotionally, mentally and socially.  Breastfeeding can deplete calcium stores and exercise increases bone density. As with any exercise program it is important to train smart with a strong foundation in place that supports our efforts towards success and is considerate of our current physical condition. 

The Foundation:
Most new mothers do not resume their exercise programs until 6 weeks postpartum. This provides a window of opportunity to establish breastfeeding prior to reintroducing exercise. Starting slowly is necessary for the postnatal condition as the core is assessed through functional movements. Exercise is typically not high intensity at this time. Exercise will not undermine nursing. It can alleviate maternal frustrations by releasing endorphins- one of …

A couple who works out together, stays together!

Working out together is great for your relationship. I am lucky enough to have several couples on my roster and I absolutely love seeing the dynamic between them. One couple hires a babysitter so they can train 1 evening a week with me, followed by a post workout restaurant dinner. I ask them each week where they will be eating that night. It makes for a great date night. It can also be a quality hour on the weekend; one couple I train, workout on Sundays while their daughter naps. It is quality time.

Whether it’s a home gym, basement or full facility, working out is intimate and provides a great forum to talk openly. I always say, “what happens in the gym stays in the gym.” There’s something about pushing ourselves physically that opens up emotions and dialogue.

Partners who stay fit together stay young together and continue to nurture their physical relationship in a proactive way. Partners inspire and motivate each other to maintain the fitness status quo, and to not …

My favorite muscle- the Gluteus Medius!

The Lower Body & Pelvic Stability Control
The gluteus medius is an upper anterior buttock muscle with some of its posterior fibers situated beneath the gluteus maximus. It originates from the part of the pelvic bone beneath the crests known as the ilium, and inserts onto the side of the thigh bone, or femur.

The main function of the gluteus medius is abduction, or moving the leg away from the body. This is a function rarely performed alone in most sports. The more important role of the gluteus medius is that of pelvic stabilization during single leg stances such as when walking or running. This means that a strong gluteus medius can stabilize the pelvis and prevent it from dropping when the opposite side is not supported by that side’s leg. A weak glute medius can place excessive load on the piriformis (posterior) and psoas (anterior) muscles as they work to assist in pelvic stability control.

The primary action of the ITB is to abduct the thigh (move it away from the body’s midline)…

Core breath- Releasing the Pelvic Floor Muscle

I have blogged extensively about Core Breath for the rehabilitation of diastasis recti and pelvic floor strengthening. This repatterning of the core provides a solid foundation upon which an ambitious strength program can be achieved.

I have observed that connecting to the pelvic floor muscle to release it is often the most difficult part of the exercise. We have many visualizations and suggestions to help a client connect, and sometimes we need to use various cues to avoid a client becoming "saturated" with the imagery, disconnecting again. I am constantly looking for new ways to describe this intra-abdominal connection, and when I stumble upon a good one it excites me

This week I learned a new cue for PFM release. I really connected with it right away and have been suggesting it to clients with a disclaimer "humor me and give this a try, I really connect with it".

With inhalation through the nose, place your tongue against the back of your top front teeth and re…

Coconut milk powder

My new favorite ingredient is coconut milk powder. I mix 1/4 cup of powder to 1 cup of warm water and blend it. It is an excellent milk substitute that is vegan/lactose free. It is creamy and tastes great with cereal, in coffee, and in smoothies. I have been enjoying this vegan smoothie lately:



1 cup coconut milk (from powder)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup almond milk
2 frozen bananas
1 avocado
6-8 cubes frozen pineapple
1 Tbsp Coconut oil
1 scoop of hemp protein powder

It's tropical, delicious and vegan! Lactose free always makes for improved digestion I think :) Try it and enjoy!