Diastasis Recti Abdominus means a splitting of your rectus abdominus, or your “six pack” muscle. Let’s face it, it’s a scary term and there is a ton of bad information on the internet about it and hundreds of gurus trying to sell their easy quick fix for it. So before we dive into what it is exactly and how you can heal it, I want you to take a minute and say “thank you.”
Your body has been through an amazing transformation, maybe more than once. Your abdominal muscles and skin have stretched to make room for a growing baby. So first, I want you to honor that transformation. Your body is incredible. So instead of hating on the stretch marks or the softness, celebrate it. Thank your body.
Now I want you to check your abs. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place 3 fingers below your belly button. Inhale, and as you exhale perform a “crunch.” Do you fingers go deeper, did yourstomach puff up or “dome’? You may have a diastasis recti, or separation of your linea alba (where the “6-pack” abs connect).
A diastasis is common following pregnancy, 2 in 3 women have one, and 66% of those women also have other issues, including pelvic pain, low back pain and incontinence.
Most of the information out there is focused on the exercise and strengthening to heal your diastasis. While strengthening your abdominals, not just the deep abdominal muscle (transverse abdominus or “TA”) is important. What you are doing the rest of the day AND night is actually what is going to make the difference.
You can do all of the “belly button to spine” you want, but if you are slumped in a chair or in awkward sleeping positions, not sleeping well and surviving on trail mix, Starbucks and your kid’s cold mac and cheese…well, your healing is going to take a bit longer.
But that’s the GOOD news! Because what you do day in and day out is what is going to make healing your diastasis much easier and more effective!
Where do I start? 3 things you can do right now.
- Pay attention to what you are doing when you are lifting, standing up after sitting and getting up out of bed. Are you holding your breath. That alone, increases your intra-abdominal pressure taxing your diastasis and pelvic floor. Now, exhale with any effort. Lifting the car seat = exhale!
- Let it Go! Are you sucking in your stomach or bringing your navel to your spine all.the.time? Stop it! Let your belly go. Engaging your upper abs can turn your lower abs off and “sucking in” can increase pressure to the rest of your pelvis, back and diastasis.
- Get professional help. I can’t stress enough that your birth professional is not a muscle expert. He or she does not have the skills to appropriately assess or recommend things for you to do. I’ve heard everything from “do your crunches to I’m sure you can find a You Tube video.” This is not helping anyone…get assessed and get going. Better safe than sorry and you’ll have the peace of mind that you are exercising and moving in a safe way for your entire body, not just your diastasis.
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