Trying to navigate your postnatal recovery can often feel like you have gone down a rabbit warren. Choosing the right exercises to manage your diastasis recti can be a challenge without the right guidance. And to be honest, unfortunately, that’s because the research around diastasis is emerging (like everything else!). If you would like to learn more about diastasis fundamentals click here.
Whether you’ve decided to take control over your post-partum recovery or have outsourced it to your Women’s Health Physio (:D), be mindful of the following key points.
1/ ACTIVATE YOUR DEEP CORE SYSTEM FIRST
‘You don’t build a house without a stable foundation’
‘You don’t shoot a cannon from a boat’
…and the same goes for diastasis recovery.
The deep core system refers to the following muscles:
- Transverse Abdominus
- Diaphragm and
- Pelvic Floor Muscles
These muscles work together to help you move and maintain normal bodily functions such as continence.
2/ RIBS OVER HIPS
This position helps to allow the deep core system to work optimally. It’s also great to think about when you are standing whilst holding you baby for example. Muscles work best in mid-range i.e. not too bunched up and not too stretch.
Try this: stand so that you have a large lumbar lordosis (arch in lower back as when you were pregnant) and try and pull your belly button in VS. standing ribs over hips. In which position did it feel easier to connect with your tummy muscles? Try the other end of the spectrum, tuck your tail bone under and try pulling in your belly button…Let me know how you get on…
3/ BLOW BEFORE YOU GO
Time exertion- [lifting baby/stroller/car seat/weights/partner (just kidding)] with an exhalation. This will help to pre-activate your deep core muscles to help minimise downward stresses on the recovering pelvic floor or c-section scar and tummy muscles. You should do this anyway after delivering your baby via vaginal delivery or c-section.
4/ STOP STRAINING
If there is one consistent message amongst Women’s Health Physio’s it would have to be STOP straining (and of course breath!). Straining to do a poo/wee/lift/move is a pelvic floor and diastasis recovery no no. Increases in intra-abdominal pressure places un-due stresses on our intelligent bodies whose functioning has been designed to get on with things, without the need to strain unless there is underlying dysfunction. If you can’t get on with life without straining, speak to us.
5/ LOOK OUT FOR
- Tenting/conning/doming/bulging (and whatever else they call it)
- Signs of pelvic floor dysfunction– pelvic pain or pressure/heaviness, leaking.
Rehabilitating your diastasis should NOT result in any of these unless it’s been recommended by your health care professional or Women’s Health Physio. If you experience any one of these, stop check your technique and try again. If things don’t improve, it may be a sign that it may not be the right exercise for you at this point in time.
6/ LET IT GO
I get it. Been there; done that.
Sucking in your tummy muscles to reduce the appearance of your tummy often leads to the desired appearance at the expense of an optimally functioning abdominal wall and possible pelvic floor dysfunction.
Muscles are layered like an onion. At the skeleton we have the deep core system and layered above that the larger movement muscles. The deep core system is designed work sub-consciously at lower effort for long periods of time whereas the large muscles are designed to work at a conscious level at high effort and short bursts.
Sucking in your tummy results in you compensating for your abdominal wall appearance by over-recruitment of your superficial muscles as opposed to your deep core system (see point 1). Its all about working from the inside out first…
7/ LOAD LOAD LOAD
Diastasis recovery doesn’t just stop at activating your deep core system. To see functional gains that translate to return to exercise post-partum or taking up a new challenge in life (including having more kids) you need to load load load…. Collagen formation and re-organisation needs load to change. Try different positions, change the weights or resistance, change the number of reps and make it functional.
No point in practicing 400m runs at training when the final race is 100m sprint…just sayin…
8/ IT TAKES TIME…
Consistency is key. Setting realistic goals encompassing your lifestyle and day to day demands will set you up for a pleasant postnatal recovery. And it’s never late to address your diastasis concerns.
There is no wonder exercise. The best exercise for you is one that allows for the generation of optimal tension at the linea alba without side effects as stated in point 5.
If you feel like you could benefit from specialised guidance and treatment for your Diastasis Recti recover, do email us or call/WhatsApp on 9780 7274.
You can also visit our website to learn about other women’s conditions we treat through physiotherapy and how we can help you.