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Build a Better Belly: 10 Times to Align And Use Your Core

As long as you’re moving and exercising that’s all you need for a healthy body right? Nope. You are more than your muscles, and since your posture affects not just the shape of your belly, but also your digestion, pelvic floor function, emotions, chemistry, and also how you present yourself to others, we need to LIVE in good alignment not just align while we’re exercising. So let’s go over 10 times to align your body during everyday-waking-living moments. Please enjoy my terrible drawings…

 

1. When you’re sitting with your tailbone tucked under …

Instead you should sit on your ischial tuberosities (a.k.a. your ‘sits’ bones) and let your glutes relax so they’re not in the way. Why is this important? Because sitting on your tailbone all the time creates some troublesome issues in your pelvic floor by pushing your tailbone closer to your pubic bone and shortening/loosening those muscles. True story.  Here’s a great blog {click!} by Kangaroo Fitness about how sitting posture affects your tummy. 

2. When you’re standing with your hips forward over your toes … 

Instead, your weight should be more in your heels and the arches of your feet. Stand with your hip bones over your ankle bones. Keep every major joint stacked all the way up. Yes, it’s harder to hold a child without resting the little angel on your hip or stomach, which means your arms have to work harder. Such a bummer to get stronger arms!

Try this: Go make a plumb line by tying something weighty to a string or rope and stand sideways in front of a mirror where you can see your WHOLE body. Hold the top of your plumbline in the middle of your armpit; the bottom should fall at the middle of your ankle. If it doesn’t, please adjust. Again, it will make some of your muscles work harder to stand this new way… bummer. Oh wait, that’s not a bummer! Because you want strong muscles and an aligned body right?

3. When you’re squatting with your chest leading too much …

Instead of thrusting your ribs forward, shift them back a bit to engage your core better. Correct your form by feeling the soft upside-down “V” spot between your ribs and consciously firming that area. Visualize that “V” getting smaller. Your rib bowl should stay in line with your hip bowl (see image below).

The scary truth is that I was TAUGHT to rib thrust by the fitness industry when I was in college and getting certified. How many times have you heard, “Chest up, shoulders back” or “lead with your chest” in a class or from a trainer? Why is this so “scary” and important to change? It’s not just because the hydraulics of the “sucking it in” motion of lifting and flaring your ribs can cause queefing. It pulls a healing diastasis recti open below the ribs with a constant pull and causes upper back pain. Quite simply, it’s not natural posture. 

4. When you’re leaning over and find yourself tucking your buns under … 

Correct your alignment by bending forward at your hips, like a door hinge. Hinge at the hips not your stomach. It helps to visualize your ribs and hips like two bowls cupped toward each other – the inside of your ribs being one half, and the inside of your pelvis being the other half. Imagine keeping the two halves lined up through every move you make. Queue the crummy picture of quickly drawn bowls, but please tell me this helps.

If one bowl is your hips and one is your ribs, keep them centered all the time, and you'll have fewer back pains and a flatter tummy!
If one bowl is your hips and one is your ribs, keep them centered all the time, and you’ll have fewer back pains and a flatter tummy!

Bottom line: Pun Intended: Stick. Your. Booty. Out.

People will see it anyway even if you tuck it under, right? You cannot hide the fact that you do indeed have a butt – we all have one, and none of us wear burlap sacks – so why not do yourself a favor and keep it in good alignment so you don’t perpetuate your own health issues? Oh, and if your clothing exposes every dimple when you bend over, thus making you not want to bend over, maybe it’s time for a wardrobe change? We’ve got some seriously great glute workouts here on Fit2B. Have you seen them here?

5. When you’re reclining in a curled or crunched position …

Correct your alignment by supporting your lower back with a cushion or bolster of some sort. Also, check in with your neck and head. A lot of your balance is determined in the proprioceptors of your neck, so if you’re always sticking your beak out, try pulling back and lowering your chin so your head is lined up with the rest of your spine. There is NOTHING wrong with reclining in a resting position for a little while each day. Just be sure to support your body so that you’re not undoing your alignment work while relaxing. You shouldn’t have to subconsciously crunch and crane your head forward while watching TV.

6. When you’re sitting up from a reclining position …

Instead you should NOT DO THAT AT ALL. Because hello, Mr. Nasty Sit-Up that wreaks havoc on the connective tissue of our abs! Correct that motion by rolling to your side and sliding up sideways, using your hands to walk yourself up. Roll out of bed, don’t lurch. If you MUST do a straight sit up {because you’re either taking a military physical fitness test or you’re a parent coming out of a dead sleep thanks to puking sounds in the night} at least try to engage your transverse abs so that your core supports your spine during such a high-pressure movement.

7. When you’re reaching around behind yourself …

Especially in the car, right? Mom! I dropped my sippy cup! Just go back to those bowls and keeping them centered. Oh and please pull over and unbuckle safely to avoid pulling any muscles or causing any accidents.

8. When you’re reaching or passing something in front of you …

Pass the heavy, ceramic bowl of dense fruit salad, please!

Pass the baby across 7 people down the pew row at church.

Pass me some wood so I can stoke the fire and reach into a blaze while holding it out in front of me without bursting into flames myself.

All that. And more, right? Rather than bending at your belly button and tucking your hips as you’re stretching to pass or grab said dish, put your alignment to work for you. Line up your ribs and hips and engage those core muscles. Put those glute and leg muscles to work, and keep your head in line with your spine, too!

9. When you’re lifting or catching precious packages …

Mommy, pick me up! Daddy, catch me! Sometimes there’s just NO time to think about your alignment before you must scoop up a child out of harm’s way or catch the one who is throwing himself with child-like faith off the top bunk into your arms. If you do nothing else, pull your belly button to your spine and BREATHE OUT with the exertion. Get in a good squat position (ribs knitted not flared) for the work rather than bending over and straining your back. Read this article I wrote about 129 times to engage your transverse abdominus {click!}

10. When you’re on your hands and knees …

Actually, being on your hands and knees (quadruped, crawling, all-fours positions) can be amazing core work, but for those who are just starting the work of healing from diastasis recti, neither scrubbing floors, gardening, playing with little ones, nor any quadruped position is ideal because gravity wants to pull the belly down, putting more pressure on the linea alba, so just during the rehab phase, it’s important to use caution there.

Yeah, sometimes puke happens. Mud happens. Life happens, and we find ourselves in that quadruped position cleaning up said “life.” So here’s what you do: Aim your boney bum bones at the wall behind you rather than tucking them under. Separate your shoulder blades and push against the floor with your hands to activate your upper body muscles, and keep your belly button drawn gently inward and upward toward the ceiling. Here’s a Great article by Katy Bowman about proper hands and knees alignment and core activation

Wrapping it all up for you

This might be a lot to take in, and I feel your brains working. One could spend a lifetime of learning how to move with beauty and grace and poise, but we have to start somewhere, right? Alignment figures into every single one of my video routines here {click!} on Fit2B because if your muscles stay in unhealthy postures while you move or exercise, then it just perpetuates a negative movement cycle. Align while you exercise, and align while you do your daily life!

Read more HERE about how the way you move affects your healing diastasis recti

If you’re considering Fit2B and not sure where to start, please consider getting our Foundational Five Plus ecourse that has alignment routines, basic core and pelvic floor routines, and more traditional workout routines as well ALL PACKAGED SO PRETTY into 14 simple lessons to kickstart your fitness. Click here to learn more about it today! Build a betty belly: 10 times to realign your spine so your abs go to work for you!

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