This weeks blog is focusing on something a client of mine asked me about this past week – Diastasis Recti. I have a wealth of information to share about the muscles of the body! Just because I do not perform sports massage on the abdominal muscles doesn’t mean that I don’t know about them. Because of the implications on other muscles in the body its knowledge I sort out.
Not every pregnant woman will suffer with diastasis recti. Nor will every overweight person either. However if you have been either of these, it is a good idea to be aware that you may have had your abdominal muscles separate. You may not have been aware of it at the time, and maybe you still aren’t aware of it now. Sometimes it can even happen to people who over work their abs.
Read on to find out if you have this issue, what it means for your body and what you can do about it.
Diastasis Recti; How Do I Know?
This is the big question I get asked frequently in my treatment room. I can always check for it, but you are equally able to check for yourself at home. Especially if someone touching your stomach makes you uneasy.
Here’s how to check:
- Lay down on a firm surface, knees bent
- Push firmly down on your belly button with two fingers, palm of your hand facing your head
- Perform a crunch exercise (only if you are able and are pain free)
- Feel your abs squeezing around your fingers? No? relax the crunch and try three fingers, crunch again
- Keep testing this area with your fingers and you may need to use your other hand to determine the extent of the gap between your abdominals
- Also test above and below your belly button
- If you’re able to hold the crunch, you can feel up and down the line through your belly button to ascertain exactly where your gap starts and ends
Undamaged abdominals will have no noticeable gap.
Mild Diastasis Recti is two and a half fingers or less and can heal naturally without a lot of intervention. Do not panic if you find you have a larger gap than you expected. This is normal and, in most cases, can be healed non-surgically.
If your gap is very large, and you’re experiencing any of the issues I mention below, then please do visit your doctor or women’s health specialist. You can be examined and discuss your options, sooner rather than later.
Why Should I Heal Diastasis Recti?
Your abdominals form an important support function to the whole body, and when they become compromised, this can lead to issues and discomfort elsewhere, such as jeopardized trunk stability and mobility, back pain, pelvic pain, damage to your posture, pelvic floor dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, bowel or bladder incontinence, worsening pain and in extreme cases, hernia. Therefore it is important to be sure that your abdominals are working efficiently.
How Can I Heal Diastasis Recti?
First of all immediately AVOID the following exercises in any workout routine you are following;
- NO crunches
- NO planks
- NO push ups
- NO twists
- NO double leg raises
Abdominal Separation and What to Do About it
Well, that’s a lot of abdominal exercises immediately ruled out, isn’t it? That’s what I thought when I discovered my own diastasis recti seven years ago, which at the time was about four fingers and a half fingers width. I panicked a bit about how I could actually heal mine without surgery and I did a lot of research about it.
I did manage to heal mine naturally to just one finger width and I can now easily incorporate any of the above exercises into my routine without issue.
So, what did I do to heal them and how can you heal yours?
I avoided the above exercises and incorporated safer equivalents, such as side planks, pelvic clocks, pelvic tilts, pelvic floor exercises, quadruped tilts, and superman to name but a few. Demonstrations of all of these are easily found on YouTube and google.
Always perform new exercises carefully
Always perform new exercises carefully and when incorporating abdominal exercises into your routine, put them last so you don’t exhaust them prematurely into your workout and risk injury early on. Abdominals support your body through most exercises and they will perform poorly if tired out early.
During the period of time you are working to heal your diastasis recti, you may want to take care of the other muscles in your body which are taking the strain of your abs. If one muscle or area of muscles are in dysfunction, then their work is shifted to nearby structures.
Sports Massage can help identify your underlying issues and soothe overworked muscles. If you are experiencing pain in your lower back, hips, thighs, and yes your neck and shoulders, please do get in touch and visit me for a massage and be sure to mention that you might have or know you have diastasis recti.
See you soon, Chloe.