Diastasis Recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles (specifically the rectus abdominus or 6 pack muscles). It is caused most often by:
- Weight gain in the abdominal area
- Growing uterus during pregnancy
- Core exercises while pregnant (too much strain is placed on the connective tissue between the rectus abdominus)
- Doing abdominal exercises incorrectly – NO MORE CRUNCHES!
If not addressed back pain will become a daily reminder of the gap in the 6 pack. Diastasis Recti occurs equally among men and women. For women it is usually known as the “mummy tummy” and for men “guy gut” or “beer belly”. For expectant mothers Diastasis Recti will delay abdominal recovery for about 16 weeks.
Strong properly functioning abdominal muscles serve several purposes. They support the spine and posture and they hold our internal organs.
Desiring a flat toned belly is not so vain after all. There are definite benefits to getting rid of the bulge but closing the gap takes more than one session. You might start feeling results within 2-4 weeks though keep in mind it can take up to 16 weeks for the tears in the connective tissue to mend.
So it’s time to get off the couch and start busting a gut. It is essential to learn proper technique when doing abdominal work so as not to cause or exasperate the issue. Correct technique will properly flatten your belly and trim your waistline while strengthening the hips and stabilizing the pelvis.
Not everyone is familiar with Diastasis Recti so when joining a group fitness class make sure and ask the instructor if they will be able to help you. If you have a severe diastasis you may need one on one help developing a home practice, make sure and find a knowledgeable instructor.
In the meantime I recommend The Postpartum Abdomen Support from Scott Specialties as a starting point to recovery. It is available at Amazon and reasonably priced under $25. There are many other abdomen support belts for both men and women. If you have a touchy back you might want to consider getting one, wearing it and learn some proper core strengthening exercises.
It’s easy to check for diastasis recti. Here’s how:
- Lie on your back with your feet on floor and knees up
- Bring your knees above your hips and then curl/crunch up, pushing your back into the floor. (please keep in mind this is not the correct way to do crunches)
- If you see a pronounced ridge that runs from navel to sternum the length of your belly you likely have it. (that ridge bulge is your internal organs)
- If you place your finger a few inches above the navel while in above position you may actually feel the gap. If two or more fingers sink into the gap it is time to address the issue with proper technique.
Now that you know... what are you going to do?
If you are motivated and can follow instructions you may have good success by ordering the Abmat on Amazon. Keep in mind without knowledgable feedback you may still struggle to get the technique correct. For those of you living on the Enumclaw Plateau you might want to check out the “Restore your Core” class Monday morning at 9:30am or Tuesday evening at 6:00pm at Intent Yoga & Healing Arts.
Next post "Are your shoulders attached to your ears?" and other musings on the body pain we suffer.