Diastasis Rectified

My journey to heal postpartum diastasis recti


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It’s Been Dark Under This Rock, or an Update FAQ

Inside my study cave.

Inside my study cave.

Is there life out there? I wouldn’t know because I’ve been buried under the massive boulder of intense studying for the last six months. I could probably braid my leg hair at this point and fashion it into small animals that I could sell downtown with all the other weirdo stuff that gets peddled. Is there really that big of a market for personalized rice?

So, my Restorative Exercise Specialist certification week is in 14 DAYS and I could not be more simultaneously giddy and terrified. This has been consuming so many of my life cycles for months and months in my relentless path to body wellness and I can’t believe it’s all coming to a head so soon. I expect my dreams to get exponentially weirder and more Katy Bowman-filled than they already are.

I suspect you are wondering a few things about me and my big old diastasis like: Any progress or what, Emily?

Here are all the questions I could think of. Please let me know in the comments if you have more!

Is your DR getting better?

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Yes! I feel way more “right” in my clothing now, even if it does still fluctuate. The gap seems to be about a full finger smaller, but as I’ve discussed before finger measurement (or “palpation” as it’s called in the research) has not been shown to be the most accurate. You can also still have a decent gap and be stable in your core, so that measurement isn’t an end-all be-all.

It’s noticeably less deep, though, and I feel more secure in my own core. I can’t tell you what a psychological boost this is. I feel like I have been waiting every day for almost two years to feel this way. So, there is hope ladies! And gents – let’s not forget you because guys get diastasis recti at the same incidence rate as women.

Why is your DR getting better?

Ummm because I’ve changed everything about my life. Hah! Okay maybe not everything, but it sure feels like it sometimes. Things like:

  • Only wearing 100% flat, flexible shoes
  • Trying to drop my ribs down all the time which is REALLY HARD and I have to remind myself every five seconds which is annoying.
  • Doing a bunch of the Restorative Exercise movements I need for my certification, but patently avoiding some of the stretches I need the most (psoas, buddy, I’m looking at you). I signed up for the RE-based Alignment Beach classes, too, which might be another option if you’re not into Mutu or you’re looking for something more technical.
  • Walking, though not in the “right” way most of the time. See next bullet point.
  • Carrying my kid in my arm whenever possible without deforming my body with leaning or sticking a hip out (this one is so hard)
  • Hanging on all the playground monkey bars, to my husband’s chagrin, and on our pull up bar at home. I once
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    This is me writing this post right now. The transformation is pretty thorough, right? Photo cred: Chris Lott

    spontaneously started scaling a chain link fence at the playground and he just quietly ducked away so as not to be associated with the wild monkey woman.

  • Minimizing sitting on chairs and couches where my body becomes more passive and out of alignment. Except for maybe right now. Oops.
  • Squatting whenever I can, like in everyday life when getting down to the floor. Related awesome study about getting up and down from the floor and lifespan.
  • Elevating my feet when I’m on the toilet (see: Squatty Potty) so I don’t have too much downward pressure on my pelvic floor when I have to go

Have you had any setbacks?

Oh yes. I decided that I was strong enough to do pull ups because finally for the first time in my life I could get my chin above the bar. It was a big ego boost and the consequent enthusiasm drove me to keep doing it. Doing a pull up, as I found out, requires ample shoulder girdle strength and flexibility as well as arm strength. So my arms got strong lugging that baby around, but then my shoulders got ridiculously tight. This put tremendous burden on my ab muscles to try to keep my innards in place and that has been the most progress-reversing thing I’ve done. I think I could actually feel the tissue ripping apart again but that could have just been my overactive imagination.

Also, trying to do full planks did not work out in my favor. There is so much to be said for really carefully listening to your body before the ego sets in. I guess my previous exercise-intense lifestyle has set me on a default mode of wanting to feel like what I’m doing is intense. Injuring tissue is indeed intense, but not really what I was going for ultimately.

Are you still into Mutu or what?

Yes! It’s a fabulous turn-key recovery program, especially for those who are in a place where they really just need to be told what to do.

You know how Carl Sagan said that if you want to make an apple pie from scratch you must first invent the universe? So going to get certified in Restorative Exercise because you have a DR would be inventing the universe and just making the dang pie would be Mutu.

Wendy seems to be absolutely lovely and cares so much for the community of women struggling with these disorders. I think she actually just certified as a Restorative Exercise Specialist, too (but don’t quote me on that). If you’re looking for a specialized diastasis recti/pelvic floor disorder recovery program that is holistic, driven by research (for the most part, at least), and includes tons of support and community then Mutu is an excellent option.

That being said, even being faithful to the Mutu program would not guarantee healing if you’re not at a place yet to do all those dadgummed lifestyle changes. Even then I wager you’d see progress, though.

Have you been getting sleep?

Assuredly not. My craziest study time has been 2am on the bathroom floor when I had insomnia and was like “well, the kid will be up in 2.5 hours anyway.”

Did you accidentally get all your hair chopped off?

My chopped hair and that little dude I lug around to all the places

I did! Let this be your lesson to never go to the closest hair place taking walk ins because the stars aligned so that your husband is home AND your son just went down for a nap.

Okay, much more info to share once I get back from Certification Week. Wish me luck!

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Sit Bones, Tucking, Intraabdominal Pressure, and the Postpartum Pooch

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Along with my new diastasis recti friend Jamie at Belly After Baby, I have gone through some rough patches lately. 

Let’s review the life changes this process has brought so far:

  • Never sitting on sofas, the mattress, chairs, or anything that would displace the intraabdominal pressure. I mainly sit on the floor on my sit bones (those two bottom points pictured above). 
  • Getting rid of all of my heeled shoes, even the slightest ones.
  • Walking with weight in my heels, totally upright (which looks a little bit like a soldier and is hard with a stroller!)
  • Squatting instead of bending and lifting
  • Not torquing or twisting
  • Avoiding front carrying whenever possible.
  • Putting a bolster under my knees at night (if sleeping on back) or in between them (if sleeping on side)
  • Giving up my favorite exercises until I have strength again
  • NOT TUCKING MY BUTT. Muscle memory is for real, peeps. I learned to tuck my butt in lifting classes at the gym (grr) and it has been absurdly difficult to stop.

The list could go on. Needless to say, this takes serious commitment! It is easy to get discouraged.

I have been spending a lot of time on the Aligned and Well blog, trying to understand the role alignment plays in my diastasis. 

Takeaway: alignment is everything. I gently pressed on my belly today just to feel the force that intraabdominal pressure is putting on my midline and WOW, it is powerful! No wonder the muscles can’t keep it together. Only by taking away the pressure I’ve been loading these muscles down with will I be able to regain and keep a strong, flat core.

One of the things Katy over at Aligned and Well said in her first Alignment Snack shoulder class (screenshot below) was that it’s a great idea to move your body in ways that aren’t as familiar. For example, if you normally cross one arm over the other in a stretch, then do the opposite. Get your body out of its routine. She even advises gradually weaning yourself off a pillow, for example, in order to increase mobility.

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I’m starting to wonder if I had a small diastasis before pregnancy and didn’t know it, or at least poor alignment and a weak TVA. Then, wearing (chunky! sensible!) heels during pregnancy and doing literally thousands and thousands of weighted reps with my butt tucked probably took me over the edge. Let this be your fair warning, oh ye adorably fit pregnant person! 

I am going to be starting the Mutu interval training this week, as last week I still was doming in the easiest of exercises and I even missed a couple days. I hope I will see more progress by next week after trying the “Week 2” Mutu routine this week. 

We can do this, ladies! We’ve certainly met with much more difficult challenges before, even if they weren’t so easily visible to the outside world.