Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Postpartum Exercise Part 2

While working on your legs can help you tone up, most new moms are most concerned about their tummies. What once was probably pretty flat terrain now looks more mountainous. Keep in mind that in the first couple of weeks after baby arrives, your body will continue to adjust from the birth, and your tummy will go down a bit more. Still, if you want to get started on a basic exercise program that will help you get rid of baby flab, try these crunches.

The first is the basic crunch. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Put your hands on your tummy so that you do not use them to help you pull yourself up. You will pull your head, neck, and upper back up with your abdominal muscles. Do not your use neck or back muscles to pull yourself up. Not only could you injure yourself, you would not be getting any muscle benefit for your abs. You probably will not be able to complete many of these exercises at the beginning, but aim for at least 25 when you are starting out.

Next try some leg crunches. When you are doing the basic crunch, you should feel the burn in the upper portion of your abdomen, which is great but leaves out a good portion of your stomach area. Once you have completed your basic crunches, extend your legs. Do not put them flat, but you do not want your knees completely bent either. When you do the crunch, lift one leg into the air, bending the knee so that your head and knee approach each other. Alternate legs. Try to do at least 2 sets of 10.

The reverse crunch is your next task. Bend your knees, but pull them into your chest so that your bottom is lifted slightly off the floor. Pull your buttocks so that it lifts farther. Hold for a few seconds and return your bottom to the ground. Do 2 sets of 10 reverse crunches.

The alternating crunch is one that is difficult for most people, so new moms should expect some difficulty when attempting this one. Lie in the basic crunch position. Put your right leg over your left. Put your left hand behind your head. Now pull up for the crunch. When you pull up, twist to your right so that your left elbow will touch your right knee. Switch your leg crossing, hand, and twist and do it again. You may only be able to complete 10 or 15 of these crunches, but do as many as you can and increase everyday.

These exercises are not all you will need to get yourself into good shape. Still, they can help get you through those first weeks by serving several purposes. First, they make you feel better about your body so that you can begin to be comfortable in it again. Second, they give you time for you. The first few weeks of motherhood can be so harrowing that you feel lost. This exercising will give you at least 5 minutes to be on your own. Finally, you can work these exercises around your baby’s needs. If you are only trying to get 10 crunches done, it won't take long. Do the exercises throughout the day, and you'll have a full workout in.

By Julia Mercer

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