Ab Rehab Workout

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1. Elevators

Based on the Tupler Technique, created by New York-based trainer and childbirth educator Julie Tupler, R.N., this unique series of exercises you can do at home will not only protect your back during day-to-day activities, it also will help shrink your belly.

Sit cross-legged with your back against a support, shoulders in line with your hips, and both hands on your abdomen. Inhale, expanding your belly out to the first floor, then exhale as you bring your transverse back to the fifth floor [shown].

Hold and count out loud to 30. Do 5 small squeezes toward the sixth floor (as far toward the back of your spine as possible), then end with 1 full breath. Repeat 10 times.

Benefit: Strengthens abdominals.

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2. Contractions

In the Elevators position (step 1), place one hand under your ribs and one below your navel [shown]. Inhale, expanding your belly out to the first floor, then exhale to bring the transverse to the third floor, keeping your shoulders still; this is the starting position.

Count out loud as you bring the transverse back to the fifth floor. Squeeze and hold there, bringing your ribs together. (This is 1 repetition.) Bring the transverse back to the third floor and repeat. Work up
to 100 reps 3–5 times per day.

To progress: After 2 weeks, you can work from the fourth to fifth floor and then from the fifth to sixth floor.

Benefit: Strengthens abdominals, especially the transverse.

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3. Standing Pelvic Tilts

Stand with your knees bent, legs hip-width apart, hands on thighs, and rest your upper-body weight on your arms. Flatten your back, draw your transverse in to the fifth floor and pull your pubic bone toward your navel, pointing your tailbone down [shown].

Hold for a count of 5, then return to the flat-back position. Do 10 tilts.

Benefits: Strengthens abdominals and stretches lower back.

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4. Head Lifts

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and close to your buttocks. Inhale to expand your belly, then exhale to bring your transverse to the fifth floor, placing the small of your back on the floor (If you have a diastasis, use a splint; see "How to Check for a Diastasis"). Lift your head only, bringing your chin toward your chest [shown].

Hold your transverse in as you inhale and bring your head down to the floor. Do 10 head lifts.

Benefit: Strengthens abdominals.

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5a. Leg Slides

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, close to your buttocks. Place one hand on your belly and the other under the small of your back, palm up. Hold your transverse in at the fifth floor and bring your knees up over your hips [shown].

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5b. Leg Slides

Slide your heel back toward your buttocks [shown], then lift it to the starting position. Switch legs.

Do 15 alternating slides (30 total). If you can't hold your transverse in, wait until you feel strong enough to try this exercise.

Benefit: Strengthens abdominals.

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6a. Low Back Stretch

Lie on your back with your arms straight, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and heels close to your buttocks [shown].

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