Postpartum fitness expert explains how the 'blueberry' technique will strengthen your pelvic floor

blueberry technique for core strength
And no, the technique isn't just to eat lots of blueberries - we wish. Photo credit: Getty Images.

When we hear the words "tighten your core" or "work on your core strength", you probably immediately think about getting washboard abs. 

But your core is a lot more than just a six-pack, according to pregnancy and postpartum specialist trainer Katie Swift. 

She joined Newshub podcast Fierce Fitness this week to explain how when working out, we need to always be thinking of our core as a major part of our body. 

"We also have the back, the diaphragm and of course the pelvic floor itself which consists of a lot of muscles, fascia, ligament, tissue and organs," she told podcast host Nats Levi. 

When asked why we should be considering our deep core muscles when training, Swift explained that like any training, it's about thinking about your "why". 

"Where are you putting your focus? If you want a nice strong core it can't function on its own - it has to work in synergy with other things," she said. "Women also have a whole other organ there: They have a uterus as well as a bladder and a bowel."

Swift said she too often sees people turning to fast-paced ab workouts at the end of exercise, often pushing themselves hard and not actually thinking about their deep core and pelvic floor engagement.

"Breathing is the ultimate foundation of everything to do with core and engagement - the more we can breathe the better everything functions," she explained. 

"It's about checking in with what's happening in your body - you're not working out for anyone else, you're working out for yourself. 

"[Don't be ashamed to] take a rest, take a reset, take a breath and join in when you can rather than going harder, harder, harder."

She said a clue that your core isn't engaged is if you feel a protruding or "doming" sensation on the stomach, and you shouldn't be feeling it elsewhere in hip flexors as many people often do. 

So how to engage the pelvic floor and those deep core muscles during exercise? 

"I like to use an analogy such a blueberry - it's one of my favourites," said Swift. 

"You have your urogenital triangle and your anorectal triangle in your pelvic floor. To isolate that we use visualisation techniques. 

"So for example for someone who suffers from incontinence we would say, 'imagine a blueberry at the front of your bladder and there's a big plastic tube that's gonna suck the blueberry all the way up, and then put the blueberry all the way back down where it came from, like it's in an elevator'." 

Try it now at your desk, at home or on the bus - it can take some getting used to. 

To hear more from Swift, check out the full Fierce Fitness podcast episode.