8 Questions with Cheryl Mostowski of Strong Tummies

Hello Mamas - Can you believe our Core Rehab series starts next week?! There is always so much interest with last minute sign ups so if you're waiting to register, please do so in the next few days to save your spot! Register online.

I get a lot of questions from moms about the Core Rehab class and do my best to clear up any confusion, but I thought it would be nice to go straight to the source. I reached out to Cheryl of Strong Tummies, our Core Rehab instructor, with the most common questions I usually get about the series. She was kind enough to respond with such thoughtful answers, I knew I had to share!

If you still have any questions about Core Rehab, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here for you!

We would also be so grateful if you could pass this information along to any mama who may need it. Remember, it is never too late!

I hope you enjoy reading Cheryl's answers, her immense knowledge really shines through. Namaste.  - Liz

1. What does Core Rehab mean?

The word rehab means restore to a condition of good health and the ability to work. So core rehab means finding or getting in touch with, learning to engage, strengthening and then incorporating your deepest layer of abdominals (your Transverse Abdominals) into your daily life and then exercise routines. Core Rehab and More is an integrated, functional program full of information about your body that is designed for your life, not just an exercise routine.

2. Is this about getting a “six pack”?

Unfortunately when we think of core we immediately think “6-pack abs”, but those are only the outermost abdominal muscles (Rectus Abdominis – primarily for flexion), not the deepest layer that attaches your upper body to your lower body and works in unison with other 3 muscle groups that lie deep within our body to hold us stable upright. You can have really strong “6-pack abs” and no underlying core strength to protect your back and organs (or protruding tummy).

3. My doctor checked me at 6 weeks and said I was fine to exercise and have sex again…. But I don’t feel fine. Can you help me?

Yes! I can teach you about the anatomy of your body and how it was designed to function. And what you need to do to get it back to its optimal condition. Your body has just gone through 9 months of changes including hormones (which don’t immediately disappear after birth – especially if you are breastfeeding), alignment and posture, the stretching out of your muscles, followed by intense labor and delivery (whether vaginal or c-section). Your body worked hard and the deepest core muscles stretched to the max (transverse abdominals), carried a heavy load (pelvic floor carrying the weight of the baby), been pushed aside and stretched (pelvic floor as the baby is delivered) supported greater (and different) weight and alignment (multifidi) for a all that time and need time and the tools to heal. We can provide you with some tools.   

4. My mother/grandmother told me it was normal to leak a bit when I laugh or sneeze now that I’ve had a baby. Is that true?

No! It is not “normal” to leak after having a baby – it is unfortunately “common” and thus we have normalized leakage. There are many reasons we leak urine after having a baby: dysfunctional pelvic floor; scarring after tears or episiotomies; etc. and we explore the reasons and help you find solutions. I always tell my clients you don’t have to live like that – there’s help!  

5. What are the risks if I ignore my abdominal separation or pelvic floor issues? Why is it important to take care of them now?

If the abdominals are separated (or even just weak and thus dysfunctional) you lose the support for the whole body up and below the abdominal area, which can lead to chronic back pain, gastrointestinal issues, pelvic floor dysfunction, hernias, sciatica and more. Sometimes it may be months or years before the other dysfunctions show up, causing not only years of pain and discomfort but further damage in time. If you have pelvic floor issues you are at risk for leakage, prolapse, and pain or dysfunction during intimacy.  None of these issues will go away if you don’t fix the actual problem, which is a weak core that doesn’t hold us up and in or protect our organs, but will only get worse and could lead to surgery at some point.

6. I had my babies 5 years ago and was thinking about getting surgery to solve my problems. Is it too late for me to heal without surgery?

No. I have had many women in their 60’s and 70’s repair and strengthen their bodies and heal from chronic pain that was caused by core dysfunction.   

Remember that if you have unsuccessful surgery (and the statistics show many are not), you can’t go back and undo the surgery. But if you do this program (and do the rehab work and integrate it into your life), and you don’t heal either a separation or leakage, you can always do the surgery at a later time. In fact, there are many doctors around the world who now require their patients to complete our online program prior to surgery to protect the integrity of the sutures and correct the underlying problem (a weak core) before correcting the symptoms (the separation).

7. I had a c-section, will it ever be safe for me to exercise again?

Yes – but your body not only has to heal from the pregnancy, but from major surgery. Start slowly with rehabilitative work and then progress to other exercise so that your body is strong and prepared for more strenuous work. Do the foundational work first so you have something to build on.

8. I am planning on having more children. Should I wait to begin your program?

No. A dysfunctional, weak, separated or inactive core allows the baby to extend out instead of having abdominals support baby up and in. This also directly affects pregnancy, and optimal fetal alignment during labor, delivery and recovery.  Also, when the core muscles are inactive, the posture shifts and excessive pressure is put on the low back, pelvic floor and upper back.  Core training is essential to prevent diastasis recti (or keep it from getting worse) and to treat the physical pains that accompany pregnancy.