Diastasis Rectified

My journey to heal postpartum diastasis recti


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Rib thrusting, diastasis recti, and where to go from here

Bellies 2014

I am almost done with the Psoas course from The Restorative Exercise Institute and I am here to report that I am a rib thruster. Notice in the second photo from the right how the bottom of my rib cage is in front of my ASIS (your ASIS is the bony part of your pelvis in the front that is commonly mistaken for a hip bone). This shortens my psoas muscles, shifts the way my body carries its own weight, and increases pressure in all the wrong places. I would explain more, but I’m not an expert. Yet.

This, and other misalignments, help explain explain why Mutu isn’t giving me the results I want. I don’t meant the appearance I want but rather the body function. The machine of my body is more like the ’89 Volvo with the electrical problem that would leave me stranded in the middle of the highway (literally in the middle…of a lane…it would just shut off) and less like the aerodynamic Teslas I see zipping around the city. For example, I was out of commission for days last week with a debilitating neck and back spasm which my 22lb 9mo was only too happy to accommodate [sarcasm]. I have felt like the work I’m doing, while having some visually obvious effect on my body, has not been addressing the full root of the problem. It’s like if you put fertilizer on a plant whose soil is too acidic or alkaline – you are not going to help the plant until you adjust the soil.

I believed I was fixing my “soil” with zero drop shoes and some lifestyle changes, but I’m seeing now that the more fundamental problems require more extensive changes Habits I’ve learned over literally decades (dating all the way back to my first ballet class at 4) and things drilled into me in the Exercise Science building at my college or in the group classroom at the gym not only contributed to this problem in the first place but are preventing me from being well.

BUT WAIT, it’s not all sad panda around here! I am on a trajectory to fix these underlying issues. While Wendy does base many of her exercises on Katy’s work, I need more information and practical knowledge. I need to understand all the “whys” because that’s just the kind of woman I am, I guess. It won’t affect change in me until I really “get” it, that much I know is true. That’s why I have signed up to complete the first step of the certification program to become a Restorative Exercise Specialist. It’s a nice goal to have, but in end systems are more important than goals. So, part of my “system” is to continue to integrate what I’m learning and applying into this blog and pass on the information to all of you with separated bellies wondering if it can even get better. Together we can create healthier, happier bodies that work with us and not against us. I hope you’ll join me. 🙂

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Week 2, “Training Puppies”

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Training puppies

My all time favorite yoga teacher was this wiry ball of muscle, Janice. She was the only older woman I’ve seen rock pigtails legitimately. Anyway, at one of my first classes she explained how to engage your “yogi toes” and feet. She said that it feels strange now but it’s like training puppies – just keep showing them how and eventually they’ll get it.

I feel that way about not only engaging my TVA (transverse abdominis). Actually, I feel that way about just being aware my TVA is in there. I find constantly engaging my TVA while simultaneously not putting undue pressure on my abdominis rectus (“six pack”…”no-pack”) is especially difficult. I’m just so used to depending on my outer abs to help me out during the day. I had no idea how much I jack-knifed while getting up off of sitting surfaces.

Also, I’m not feeling much of a connection between my TVA engagement and pelvic floor engagement, which has me a little concerned. Anyone else out there experienced this?

Progress Report

Above are my week 2 pics. I think there might be progress? I have still not started the actual Mutu Week 2 course material (which uses high intensity interval training) because I feel challenged enough with just the six minutes of core work and stretches Week 1 entails. I plan to start that soon, though.

Specifically, the “Drop your heels, find your middle” exercise really rocks me. In this exercise she has me lay on my back, raise knees to the ceiling while keeping shins parallel to the floor, and drop one heel at a time down to the floor and back up. This exercise is so difficult for me that I can rarely do ten reps without feeling my abs separate and my innards poke through. This has me considering getting a splint after all!

 


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My starting over point – the belly before, during, and after pregnancy

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This is me at 8 weeks pregnant, the day before I went into labor, and then at 5 months post partum (my transverse abdominis is not engaged). What a difference a diastasis recti makes!

It’s difficult for me to look at these shots. I really expected to bounce back quickly as I knew only 12% of women who exercise during pregnancy get a diastasis recti. No one in my family has ever had one. In fact, when my mom visited me at 8 weeks post partum she asked if something was wrong with my belly and I got offended. I should have gotten a clue! I just didn’t expect it to happen to me.

If you are currently pregnant

If you are currently pregnant and wondering if you have a diastasis, keep an eye out when you are doing push-ups. I never did crunches, in an effort to avoid a diastasis, but I did do push-ups. I saw a dome like a big hot dog running down the middle of my belly. I was ignorant enough to think it was my abdominis rectus, when it was actually my innards poking through! 

In retrospect, I would have also cut out the side arm balance way before 9 months. Word to the wise.

Tupler recommends splinting with her approximating splint and extenders while pregnant. I don’t know if I will splint post partum (I’m waiting to see if Mutu works), but I will definitely splint in my next pregnancy.