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Calling sufferers of DIASTASIS RECTI, split tummy muscles, and belly bulge.(17 Posts)
Over on the Shred Thread we've been talking about diastasis and how little information there is out there about healing it. It can be healed, but in the UK this part of women's health is largely ignored. Diastasis recti leads to a weakened core, back problems, hernia and is linked to post natal pelvic floor weakness. There are of course programmes of exercise that can be bought, mainly MuTu and Tupler Technique but I think it's criminal that spending money is the only option available to the majority of us that suffer with separated tummy muscles and want to heal it.
This thread is a support thread, and a place to pool information on what diastasis is and how it can be healed. I have had 2DCs and had diastasis with both. Through exercises which work the transverse muscle I've closed that separation. I will be posting info on how to check for separation, exercises to close it, and exercises to maintain it. Anyone else with any info is welcome to join.
So come on in and introduce yourself, and let's get some awareness going for this sorely neglected element of women's health.
Yay! Your post is much appreciated & well timed OP!
I had my DS1 18m ago and I strongly suspect I have separated muscles and was wondering what to do to rectify it especially as we are considering trying for DC2 soon.
Totally agree with everything you say re: lack of support & info for this. Read once about how much the French really push the post-natal pelvic floor muscle exercises (appointments to check progress etc) but we just get told once or twice to do it by health visitor and that's it. Not really told the importance of doing them, and it's the same with abdominal muscles.
I have a diastasis recti, about 3 or 4 finger widths at worst. This goes back several years and I have never had any success closing it. I also have an epigastric hernia which has gradually got worse and now probably needs surgery. I would love to have prevented this from happening in the first place. I don't know if maybe I put on too much weight in my pregnancies.
Hello! I checked a few hours after posting this and saw no replies so didn't check again until now.
First of all thank you both for posting. Both your stories cover the two angles of this bit of women's health that's neglected. U32ng isn't sure whether she has diastasis and Majestic has been thoroughly let down.
I'm going to post some basic info on how to check for diastasis, the school of thought behind how to heal it and maintain it, and the exercises that can help you do this. I actually don't think it's too late to try some of the exercises Majestic. I've heard a few success stories from women in your situation who managed to heal the separation using these exercises, so keep reading!
Me too...and have ongoing back issues, but when I see people about my back they don't seem remotely interested in my tummy.
I have a small separation still, 7 months after DD was born. I asked the GP for a referral to a physio when I went for my 6 week check, since I knew about the problem and knew that it wouldn't fix itself magically. She told me that "unless I could fit a fist in the gap" it didn't merit a referral .
I try to do exercises but it doesn't seem to be working. I hate my tummy at the moment and it used to be one of my best features.
I bought Mutu and found it very good. I bought the DVDs and sold them on so the course only effectively cost me £10.
I also have seen Wendy Powell's (Mutu lady) book and it's a very good intro for only £6 ish and covers a lot of the essentials:
Ok, so Diastasis Recti is the separation of the 6 pack muscles (rectus abdominus) which run vertically down your abdomen. It's most often caused by pregnancy, where often the muscles split leaving a thin layer of tissue in between. Normally the muscles go back after birth but in some women they don't and this is diastasis recti. A 1-1.5cm gap is considered normal, 2cm is getting dodgy and anything over that is not good.
How to check for diastasis.
Lie on the floor, knees bent (like if you were about to do crunches). Place two fingers pointing downwards just above your belly button. Now, you need to lift your head and shoulders if the floor at the same time as pushing down with your fingers. Don't come right up into a crunch, it's a slight lift. If you have a separation you should be able to feel two walls of muscle either side if your fingers. Add fingers or take them away until they fit snugly in the space, and count them. That is the cm measurement of your diastasis. If you don't feel a gap, and you can feel hard muscle directly under your fingers then you don't have diastasis.
Ok, so what now?
Well healing diastasis is all about changing the way we tone our core muscles. All the conventional fitness info for toning abs focuses on the 6 pack and the lower back however if you do exercises which work the 6 pack when you have diastasis you will make it much worse. The transverse muscle is an internal muscle of the abs that goes all the way around your body like a corset. When you are pregnant it loses tone as it's stretched by your growing bump and your back gets that inward curve that comes from having a huge baby hanging down at the front. This means that after birth this muscle isn't doing it's job and is the key muscle to focus on to correct diastasis. By toning the transverse muscle you are effectively teaching it to engage again. This pulls your stomach in, and pulls the separated abs together from the inside. It strengthens your back and corrects that bent spine posture so many of us get. The transverse muscle is also linked to your pelvic floor and toning it will also tone your pelvic floor. It is the key muscle, and without it acting as a corset and holding everything in, you will continue to have bulging abs.
It's also about retraining that muscle to engage automatically. Every time you bend, lift, twist or lean your internal organs are applying pressure to that separation. If your transverse muscle doesn't engage in those situations then there's nothing to stop that pressure straining the separation and ultimately making it worse. Pre pregnancy it would have been doing its job without your knowledge but now we need to retrain it. There are two main programmes that you can buy. One is MuTu which is a programme to heal diastasis and get fit and toned via exercise post baby. The other is the Tupler Technique which just focuses on healing the separation. I used exercises from both to heal my separation, and will be posting them, but if you want to look into either of these programmes they are google able and proven to be effective. There is no NHS equivalent.
Exercises to heal separation and engage transverse Ab.
First of all you need to locate your transverse muscle. Stand up, feet shoulder width apart. Place one finger in your belly button. Now you want to imagine a string going from inside your belly button to your spine and out a hole in your back. You are going to imagine someone pulling that string and pull your belly button in. Your lower and upper tummy shouldn't be moving, you shouldn't be holding your breath, spine should be straight, shoulders shouldn't be hunched. Squeeze it in as hard as you can. You may feel it in your sides and back, this is because the muscle goes all the way round. Hold for as king as you can then release.
Once you've mastered that you can do more complex moves.
*Bring it in as before but this time pull your pelvic floor up at the same time. Now keeping your finger in your belly button you want to pulse the muscle, keeping it contracted the whole time. Pull in as far as possible on each pulse and keep going for as long as you can.
*Pull in as above and holding the contraction slide your ribcage over to the side squeezing the contraction as you do, then come back to centre. Do the same for the other side. Continue for as long as you can.
*now imagine your tummy is a zip. Slowly zip it up starting from your pelvis and finishing just above the belly button.
*Imagine your tummy is a lift. You are going to take it up to 6 floors of the lift, finishing above the belly button. So take it up to the first floor, and down again. Now up to the second floor, and down again etc.
*pelvic tilts. Lie on the floor, knees bent. Tilt or roll your pelvis up and towards you. Breathe out as you tilt, hold for 5 seconds and release. Once this moves feels easy you can make it more complex by holding the tilt, sliding one leg down to flat on the floor, holding for a few seconds and then returning leg to bent.
There is a hard move which you can do when you feel that you are ready.
*lie in the floor knees bent. Now lift you legs so they are at 90 degrees. Lift you bottom off the floor and roll towards you slightly, pause for 2seconds then release. Keep your head on the floor for this move.
The other key thing to remember is that you need to teach your transverse ab to engage day to day, otherwise all those exercises will be working against the strain put on your separation every time you lean, lift, bend. So whenever you go to pick something up or bend down, pull in at the belly button to engage the transverse. It doesn't have to be a tight squeeze contraction, just enough so that the transverse is working. Like the pelvic floor, you can't over work the transverse as it's job is to engage all the time, so try and engage it as often as you can through the day. If you keep that up for a week you should find it starts to automatically engage slightly as it gets stronger.
The above is a combination of moves from the programmes you can buy. They are very effective, and if done every day, along with engaging the transverse throughout the day will begin to improve the separation. The other key thing to remember is that like the pelvic floor, if you stop doing the exercises it will get worse again. Once you've had diastasis recti it can easily come back, even when fully healed. Once it is healed a few of the above exercises daily should be enough to keep it that way, but it's important not to think you can go right back to crunches and planks because ultimately that will just reverse all the work you've done so far.
Is it ok to keep the transverse abdominis tense while walking. I've discovered if I tuck my tailbone in a bit and squeeze my transverse abdominis while walking I can kind of use the motion to squeeze my core.
Yep, providing you are still able to do the exercise properly you can do it anytime anywhere. No one can see you doing it as only your belly button should move, so you can get away with doing it at your desk at work, at the bus stop. Infact the more you can remember to do it throughout the day the better.
It's better to pulse it if you can than just one long squeeze as it works the muscle more.
Just marking my place so I don't loose this thread. I seem to be having a lot of problems with spd and back ache and my youngest is almost 2 - which I think the route cause is my disastis recti.
I saw a physio through the nhs and the list of excircises listed was what I was shown how to do. I didn't keep it up and seem to be back where I started again hoping I can improve things again.
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Just for info, katy bowman has blogged in this and also published a book with info and exercises. More cash I know but she's very good.
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