I once heard clamshells referred to as the “lettuce” of exercises (Bland, boring, watery 🥬🤣 → credit to @thesisuwolf). ⁠

I’ll tell you, I do enjoy me some clamshells sometimes- And I really love them for the very early postpartum. But they often become a scapegoat for everything boring and tedious about rehab programs. They’ve got their place- but like everything, their usefulness has an expiration date and if you don’t keep progressing them, they’re not going to continue to do you any good. ⁠

Clamshells aren’t EASY if you’re doing them with good form and at an appropriate progression.⁠⁠
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Here are some suggestions to help you get the most out of the Clamshell exercise and a few ideas on how to progress them as you grow stronger.

1. Use your breath.

Use an audible exhale (like blowing out candles) paired with gentle pelvic floor contraction to help kick on your core. Exhale as you rotate your top leg open, and inhale to lower close.⁠⁠

2. Make sure you’re doing things with “good” form.

Prevent your hips from rolling forward or backwards as you open the clam. A strong exhale breath can help prevent rotation by improving core stability. It’s okay if your range of motion is small.⁠⁠

If you’re doing clamshells correctly, you’ll feel the work in your side butt muscles (glute medius). These are the muscles you’d find at the outer edge of your back pocket.

3. Progress Your Clamshells

When you can do 12-15 reps/side with good form, make it harder!⁠⁠

1) Add a miniband⁠⁠

2) Elevate your clamshell⁠⁠

3) Add a hold

Perform 10 reps then hold for 10 seconds.⁠

If you tried ‘em, let me know!⁠⁠

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Redmond, WA-based Seattle birth doula Laura Jawad, headshot

My mission is to make sure that having a baby is not a reason why you can’t do all the things.

Contact me if you have questions about exercise or pelvic health pertaining to pregnancy or postpartum. I also offer personal training services and consultations to folks locally (Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland) and online.

Certified Prenatal & Postnatal Coach, Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach and Postnatal Fitnesses Specialist.

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