Pilates, yoga, fitball and gyrotonics are the key exercises to do to develop strong core muscles.
“Core exercises are essential for post-natal women as they suffer from poor truncal stability and weak pelvises. The core exercises mentioned here emphasize the core muscles of the body so as to provide a stable linkage between the upper and lower limbs and truncal stability,” notes Dr Tan Jee Lim, consultant orthopaedic sports surgeon.
Think of your body as a tall structure. If the foundation is not strong, the building will be structurally unsound. Core muscles are the all-important foundation. Located deep within your torso, these muscles stabilise the spine, pelvis and shoulders and create a solid base of support, enabling you to generate powerful movements.
“Pilates is known for its ability to redefine body shapes. It works so deep that you develop a natural corset, allowing you to look taller and more svelte.” Pearlin Siow, Pilates instructor
Two exercises to do:
1. Roll ups- Lie with legs hip distance apart and bring arms up. Inhale and exhale as you “peel” your back off the floor.- Stretch on top. Inhale and exhale as you lower your back down to the floor. Remember to draw your navel against your spine all the way down. Do eight reps.
2. Criss-cross- Bring knees up to 90 degrees and lock fingers behind head. Bring head and shoulder off the floor.- Inhale and exhale as you twist and point left elbow to right knee and vice versa. Remember to stretch opposite leg out long and keep lower back on the floor. Do six reps.
“The slow, focused movements in yoga require a strong mid-section to maintain the poses.” Adeline Tien, yoga instructor
1. Plank pose- Kneel and place hands directly under shoulders and knees under hips. Inhale and exhale as you lift knees from the floor, tucking toes under and pressing heels back. Keep torso parallel to the floor and maintain a straight line. Draw your lower abdomen into the spine to engage the core muscles and protect your lower back. Stay for 30 seconds to one minute.
2. Full boat pose- Sit on floor with knees bent, feet flat and hip distance apart. Place hands behind knees from the outside.- Inhale and exhale as you lift your feet off the floor. Stretch your arms alongside the legs, parallel to the floor. Try to keep the lower belly relatively flat. Lift through the chest and breathe easily. Stay in the pose 10 to 20 seconds. Gradually increase the time to one minute.
“Fitball not only gives you defined abs, it also enhances your posture and reduces possible spine injuries.” Sebastain Varguese, fitball instructor
1. Squat- Place fitball on lower back against a wall. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.- Inhale and exhale as you bend your legs till they are 90 degrees on the side. Maintain knees behind feet. Inhale and exhale as you slowly roll yourself up to a standing position. Do six sets.
2. Supine lumbar tilt- Lie down and place feet on fitball. Contract abs to keep torso light.- Inhale and exhale as you lift your torso off the floor. Keep arms relaxed and hold for 10 counts, breathing slowly. Do five sets.
“Gyrotonic develops strong, lean muscles and greatly improves the mobility of the joints. The movement of gyrotonic is generally circular. It starts from the core and involves the whole body.” Ivana Daniell, gyrotonic instructor
1. Side bend- Sit on a chair with feet hip distance apart, keep a lengthened spine and arms relaxed on the side.- Inhale and exhale as you stretch to the right. Inhale to come back to starting position and repeat for left side. Hold tummy tight as you do the gyrotonic stretches. Do six sets.
2. Twist- Sit on a chair with feet hip distance apart and keep a lengthened spine. Place hands lightly on knees.- Inhale and exhale as you slowly twist your body to the right. Inhale to come back to starting position and repeat for left side. Do six sets.