Benefits and Risks of Hula Hooping

Hula Hoop

Any new mom will be keen on regaining her pre-pregnancy body. With so many options for diets and exercise it can be hard to choose the most effective one and also the one which is right for you. Hula hooping is one method which is fun and which can certainly, if done correctly, help with improving your body shape. Before you start hooping, however, it is important to consider some important information.

First of all make sure that you get clearance from your doctor/obstetrician prior to starting any new exercise after giving birth. Generally if you had a natural delivery you should be able to go back to exercise after about six weeks; if you had a caessarian, however, you might need to wait approximately three months. So always get the green light first.

Now let’s talk about how hooping can help in improving your body shape and why it might be a good exercise option. Being a low-impact exercise it is a good and gentle way for new moms to get back into exercising. If done regularly it will also help to tone up the abdominal muscles and might help improve your waist line. Other benefits are improved lumbo-sacral mobility and improved coordination. It’s also a fun way to exercise, especially if done to music. If you are starting hooping for the first time make sure you ease into it. While it can appear easy at first, if overdone, it might result in significant muscle soreness the following day, so make sure you start slow and then pick up the pace as you get better and fitter.

One point which is important to consider, though, is whether hooping can help to improve your core. As mentioned above it can certainly help to tone up the abs in general but does it, however, really target the core muscles? To answer this question let’s first of all review the term core as it is often misapplied. In a nutshell “core muscles” are the deep muscles which support our spine and all of our joints. Hence we have “core muscles” of the lower back, stomach, shoulders, hips, etc. For the sake of this article we will focus on the lower (deeper) lower back and abdominal muscles. These muscles are located below the belly button and in order to specifically target these muscles they should be the only abdominal muscles working. Hence there shouldn’t be too much activation of the upper (superficial) abdominal muscles. So the simple answer to the above question is that no, hula hooping will not specifically target the core muscles. Having said that, if done correctly, the core muscles will still work alongside the upper abdominals.

As physiotherapists we know that the only way to make sure that you get correct activation of the core muscles is to use Real Time Ultrasound. This way both the physiotherapist and the client will see the activation on the screen and will therefore know whether or not the correct movement is being achieved. One exercise method which is very effective at improving the core muscles in particular is Clinical Pilates.