So what is it?
Basically, abdominal separation. During pregnancy your growing uterus can put pressure on your rectus abdominis and cause it to separate. The separation can be so severe that your abs don't go back together after you've given birth. This leaves a gap in the muscle and strains connective tissue. The tissue can become so weak that internal organs can stick out the gap in your muscles, or hernias can develop.
I believe the main problem behind diastasis not getting diagnosed, is because a lot of women don't know about it. And doctors don't often tend to check for it unless they are asked.
So, why am I talking about this?
Because I have it.
But she didn't give me a ton of hope. I have a small separation - only 1 finger-width. Usually the thought is that you shouldn't be very concerned about it unless you have two or more fingers of separation. Some women can have stretching so severe that it can be 8-10 fingers wide!
With diastasis you can't just start doing crunches and heal yourself. Doing so will cause more damage. So you have to strengthen your abdominus rectus (your core) and then you can get back into the crunches, etc.
To start, lay on your back on a flat surface and bring your feet up to your butt. Lift your head up, but keep your shoulders on the ground. (see picture)
Once you're in position take your index and middle finger and place them just above your bellybutton - facing towards your toes. If you have diastasis you should be able to feel a ridge between your muscles in this position. If you can't feel a divide then you should be able to feel your abdominals clenched beneath your fingers. If you can't feel either, try adding in more fingers to see where you can feel the muscle - there is a chance that you have a very large gap. If this is the case, there are typically symptoms you would notice - your stomach bulges out severely after a meal or your back would be sore on a regular basis. (To name a few).
- Kegels. Now ladies who have had babies should all know about kegels - I know I was religiously doing these when I was preggo because I was afraid once the baby came I would be peeing myself all over the place. TMI? Nah. Kegels are the best place to start to strengthen your pelvic floor. KEGELS, KEGELS, KEGELS. Do them! People have written about these a hundred times so I won't rewrite the manual. Go HERE if you want to know how to do these bad boys.
- Regular ol' plank. If you haven't planked in awhile then I would suggest starting on your elbows and with only 30 sec. If you can go for longer then take it to a minute - but I wouldn't do a full arm extension plank until I could do a minute on my elbows - but that's just me. MAKE SURE YOUR BODY IS IN A STRAIGHT LINE. You aren't working your core if your butt is sagging down or in the air. Engage your core and pull your belly button into your spine throughout the entire plank. You should also keep your head in line with your spine - you can look up to check your form, but don't put your head down - it will put your alignment out.
- Side plank with rotation. This one should be started on your knees until you are comfortable with the position. It is important that you keep your body in line - we often tend to put our hips back to help keep our balance. Your hips need to be stacked on top of each other. As the image below shows, you start in a typical side plank - let's say you start right side down like the image below shows. Your left arm points up to the ceiling and your eyes follow your arm. Bring your left arm down in an arc until your hand swings under your right side. You don't need to put your hand back far - it just needs to go underneath you to get in the slight rotation. I usually do about 15 per side.
- Bird dog. This one is deceivingly difficult. Start on your hands and knees with your back straight. You want to keep your head in line with your spine. The key to this one isn't how high you can lift your arm and leg, it's about keeping your hips in line - quite difficult. You want to lift your opposite arm to leg - without letting that hip drop. Watching yourself in the mirror or having someone watch you the first few times is ideal. I typically do about 10-15 per side. Notice in the photo that it's more about extending the leg than lifting it high - that's a butt exercise, not core work.
Do you have any other core moves? Or do you have any experience with diastasis?