Should Situps Hurt 20 Months After a C-section?

Alexandra Powell Allred's picture


Dear Fitness Expert,
Hi, I had a C-section 20 months ago and about three months ago I tried doing sit ups for the first time. It really hurt around the incision area. I know it's supposed to hurt because you're doing sit ups and working your stomach muscles, but it hurts really bad and I was wondering if this is normal.

I never thought it would take more than a year to start back up doing sit ups. Any information on this would be helpful.

Thank you in advance.


You know, we see all the pictures of Sarah Jessica Parker and Demi Moore sporting their six-pack abs and think "No pain, no gain." But the pictures are misleading. Yes, yes, you know that many/most of the pictures are air-brushed or that these celebrities are able to train full time. What you might not know is these super-buffed moms worked only when their bodies were ready. "All people are different," says Radu, celebrity trainer to celebs such as Cindy Crawford, Vanessa Williams and Marla Maples. "You cannot rush the healing process."

While sit ups seems like a great idea to start the whole abs-of-steel thing, remember that you are still healing. Scar tissue from the C-section can sometimes cause inflammation which will result in even more problems. The pain you feel from sits up should be a "good" burn, not pain.There are a series of exercises you can perform that will work the abs without putting undue stress to that already traumatized area. I promise the women in my training classes results without injury -- big difference between good burn and pain. Kickbox classes really sculpt the stomach. How? By repeatedly lifting/kicking the legs, you are working the abs. But the trick is to contract the stomach muscles and keep them tight as you are kicking. Side bends and alternate punches while working with light hand weights will do wonders! A 50-minute kickbox/hand weight class will slowly build the muscles in your lower abs, obliges (sides) and back so that you can start doing those sits up later down the road.1999 Ms. Olympia, Ms. Fitness Champion and new mom Mary Rust reminds us, however, that there is more to great abs than just doing sit ups. It is, she says, about what we eat. Loading up on heavy carbs (white rice, processed pasta, fatty breads, pizza crust...) will bloat your middle and allow you to hold on to fat rather than burn it. Try brown rice and whole wheat bagels instead.

Trainers and athletes agree that the one thing you should not do is rush your body. 20 months ago may seem like a long time but I promise, if you start with a solid cardio program, you will build a better, stronger you. Give yourself another couple of months of working out this way before adding the isolated abs. Again, if it hurts, pull back. Whoever said "No pain, no gain," never had a C-section!

-- Alex