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Heal Diastasis Recti With These Proven Training Methods

Heal Diastasis Recti With These Proven Training Methods

“The pain that comes with this condition is ruining my life. I can’t remember the last time I lived a day without having to swallow pain medication. I can’t exercise anymore. I can’t have sex anymore. I can’t play with my kids. This is ridiculous. Nothing I try works to improve this. What am I supposed to do?” – an anonymous post to peertrainer.com.

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis can be considered the symptom of chronic core weakness. Just like core weakness can cause back pains, disc herniations or lead to knee, ankle, or neck pains, it can also lead to diastasis. This happens when the core’s inner unit is not effectively transferring forces; when it is not regulating intra-abdominal pressure effectively. If an excess of pressure is consistently forced into the tendinous linea alba sheath rather than balancing synergistically throughout the abdominal muscles, the forces may be great enough over time to cause a severe stretching. In theory, this can happen to anyone, but especially a pregnant mother who has a fast-growing uterus that requires her core to adapt relatively quickly, potentially stretching the connective tissue.

Who is likely to get Diastasis Recti?

There are two types of pregnant moms who are likely to incur a diastasis stretch of the linea alba. Most common is the woman who is “core amnesiac.” This means that the woman has very little core awareness before pregnancy. The under-activation of the core often means that the diaphragm, pelvic floor, and transverse abdominis do not function with the appropriate tension at the appropriate times, leaving the belly to be overly relaxed. Once pregnant, that lack of core awareness simply perpetuates, and the relaxed belly muscles relax further than they might otherwise. The vast majority of prenatal clients will fall into this category.

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The other common type of diastasis-risk prenatal client is the opposite: instead of a relaxed core, she has a tight or overactive core. This is more likely to be a fitness enthusiast, and sometimes those who have taken their love of abdominal exercises to a level that it may no longer be serving them (Pilates, for example). In this case, your client may have learned to constantly tighten her stomach, and will often be proud of her tight abs. Tight abs are great on the occasions that they should be tight, but not necessarily all the time. The diastasis occurs when this tight TVA is trying to hold back a uterus for nine months. The uterus will win.  As the uterus grows outward, it can force a stretching of the linea alba sheath, and now this “super-fit” woman is surprised to find out that she has diastasis.

Diastasis Recti Fitness Solutions

Pregnancy can often exacerbate previous symptoms or reveal musculoskeletal challenges that are likely to occur years later. This is where misalignments such as pelvic girdle pain, sacroiliac joint dysfunctions, symphysis pubis dysfunctions, sciatica, disc herniations, piriformis syndrome, and many other challenges can arise. They are all symptoms of the “stress” of pregnancy being placed atop an already faulty musculoskeletal alignment.

As a solution that will last a lifetime, have no side effects and require no surgery, a fitness professional can teach specific activations for the inner unit, primarily the diaphragm (DPH), pelvic floor (PF), and transverse abdominis (TVA).

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Getfitforbirth.com teaches the Core Breathing Belly Pump (CBBP). It is defined as, “the rhythmic inhaling and exhaling that maintains activations of the DPH, TVA and PF muscles to dynamically maintain intra-abdominal pressure so that the core may assist in stabilizing, accelerating, and decelerating any exercise.”

Effective prenatal coaching emphasizes a balance between core amnesia and the excessive all-day holding of a super-tight TVA. More specifically, it can be thought of as coaching the natural rhythmic breathing cycle of concentric TVA contraction (on the exhale) followed by an eccentric TVA contraction (on the inhale). The natural rhythmic cycle should be  predominantly powered by the diaphragm all day long, with more activation and tension during the times that are necessary (like during exercise).  Naturally, the core tension would be less aggressive during easier activities of daily life, but still needs to be coached into greater activation in most clients!

The most important aspect for closing diastasis recti is usually that the PF and TVA combine in activation so that the natural corset of the torso wraps the two sides of the rectus abdominis back together, over and over again.  A cue to both “draw in” and “wrap together” helps give your client a sense of what the intention is for the TVA.  The PF can be cued same as a conventional Kegel exercise, just now synchronizing it with the TVA wrap. In many ways, CBBP is similar to other diastasis prevention and treatment techniques, like the Tupler Technique, but is also being regarded as a simple foundational principle because it’s based on something your clients do 20-25,000 times every day: breathing.

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The most important aspect of the CBBP for long-term health and function is that your client can perform a proper diaphragmatic breath, which is unfortunately difficult for the vast majority of pregnant (or non-pregnant) clients. In brief, the first two-thirds of a “deep inhale” should notably enter the ribs, belly and back first.  It is then considered biomechanically correct for the chest and shoulders to rise in the final third of the inhale of a “deep breath,” but not before. After asking just a handful of clients to “take a deep breath,” you will start to see patterns and build your familiarity and expertise in coaching.

Conclusion

If the diaphragmatic breath is not optimal, core activation techniques like the CBBP will not likely be enough to prevent core dysfunction symptoms like diastasis recti.  In the human body, the diaphragm muscle is top of the totem pole. And in most of your clients (often nine out of ten), it will literally need to be trained, like lifting weights.

Helping your clients create a balance of diaphragmatic breathing and core-TVA activation before, during and after pregnancy will help them have optimal core strength while decreasing their chance of having abdominal separation.

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Featured photo credit: urbanbootcamp.files.wordpress.com via urbanbootcamp.files.wordpress.com

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Last Updated on April 2, 2020

10 Quick Easy Workouts To Lose Arm Fat At Home

10 Quick Easy Workouts To Lose Arm Fat At Home

Flabby arms are something a lot of us have to tend to. If you find yourself buying a sweater or cardigan to go with your tank top or usually opt for the long-sleeved dress, then you’re not alone. Usually a result of genes, general excess fat or just ageing, it seems difficult to lose arm fat. The fat in our arms accumulates mainly around the triceps – the muscles on the back of your upper arm – and are prone to getting flabby if not exercised regularly.

What we eat can also play a part in the extent of the jiggle so eating a good, healthy balanced diet as well as keeping well hydrated can put you on the right track. Resistance exercises are the most effective way to blast that underarm fat as well as strengthen, shape and tone your muscles. You can always go down to the gym and work up a sweat but who has time for that? If you want a convenient and quick alternative then you can easily manage an effective routine in the comfort of your own home. All you need is a set of dumbbells and you can start toning up those bingo wings with these 10 easy workouts.

1. Tricep dips

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    Works: Triceps

    • Hands must be positioned shoulder width apart on a secured chair or bench.
    • Position your bum in front of the bench with feet hip-width apart on the floor and legs bent.
    • Straighten out your arms a little, keeping a slight bend from the elbow so to put more emphasis on the tricep and less stress on the elbow.
    • Keeping your back close to the bench, slowly lower your body so that your arms are at a 90-degree angle.
    • Once in this position slowly push off your hands back to the starting position.
    • Do 10-15 reps.

    2. Bicep curls

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      Works: Biceps and shoulders

      • Start off with your feet hip-distance apart, holding one dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing out.
      • Starting with your left arm, bend your elbow to slowly bring the weight up to your shoulder holding the position for 5 seconds.
      • Slowly release the elbow and straighten your arm back down to the starting position.
      • Repeat the moves on the right side.
      • Complete 3 sets of 10-15 reps for each arm.

      3. Push ups

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        Works: Triceps and Deltoids

        • Lying face down, place your hands on the floor roughly shoulder-width apart.
        • Tuck your toes under and gently lift your body up, pushing through your hands and making sure not to lock your elbows.
        • Slowly bend your elbows bringing your face roughly 2-3 inches from the ground.
        • Slowly push back up through your arms. If this is difficult then do the same move but keeping your knees on the floor.
        • Repeat 10-15 times.

        4. Tricep Kickbacks

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          Works: Triceps

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          • Place a weight in each hand and kneel down onto the floor with your toes tucked under.
          • Bend your upper body forward from the hips up and bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle.
          • Extend both your arms backwards while your palms are facing each other.
          • Feel the tension in the triceps and return to the starting position.
          • Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

          5. Plank

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            Works: Chest, Shoulders, Biceps and Core

            • Start face-down on the floor, resting on your forearms and knees.
            • Step your feet out so that they are slightly apart and come into the plank position.
            • Make sure your body is straight, parallel to the floor and your bum is tucked in.
            • Pull your abs in and hold the position for as long as you can. Try to aim for 20-30 seconds and build up to a minute.
            • Repeat 3 times.

            6. Tricep Extensions

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              Works: Triceps

              • Stand on a mat with your feet hip-width apart.
              • Hold one dumbbell with both hands behind your head, bending the elbows.
              • Bring the weight towards the ceiling, straightening your arms above your head.
              • Lower back to starting position.
              • Complete 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.

              7. Lateral Arm Raises

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                Works: Deltoids

                • Stand with feel hip-width apart. With arms down the side of your body, hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing in.
                • Starting with your left side, inhale and slowly raise your arm so that it’s parallel to the floor. Make sure not to lock your elbow by keeping a slight bend.
                • Make sure your arm is straight and palm is facing the floor.
                • Exhale and slowly bring your arm back down to your side.
                • Repeat on the right side.
                • Do 10-15 reps on each side and two sets.

                8. Overhead Press

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                  Works: Shoulders

                  • Stand up, lining your feet with your hips and hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing out.
                  • Bring the weights to your shoulders.
                  • Keep your core muscles tight and straighten your arms above you.
                  • Slowly bring your arms back down to your shoulders.
                  • Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

                  9. Bent Over Row

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                    Works: Triceps and Biceps 

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                    • Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
                    • Bend your knees and and then bend your upper body forward from the hips making sure you keep your back nice and straight.
                    • Make sure your hands are straight and placed under your shoulders.
                    • Bend the elbows back while lifting your arms towards the sides of your chest, pulling your shoulder blades towards each other.
                    • Slowly lower the weights in a controlled movement and feel the tension at your triceps.
                    • Repeat 10-15 times.

                    10. Skull Crushers

                    Skull-Crushers

                      Works: Triceps

                      • While holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie on your back with your knees bent.
                      • Slowly raise your arms so they are above your chest, making sure your elbows are straight but not locked.
                      • Slowly lower both arms toward your head, bending your elbows to 90 degrees as the dumbbells reach the mat. Aim to lower your weights so they are on either side of your head  with elbows bent and pressing in toward your head (being careful not to hit yourself in the face).
                      • Lift your arms back to starting position.
                      • Complete 2 or 3 sets, 10-15 reps each.

                      Featured photo credit: Maddi Bazzocco via unsplash.com

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