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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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Heal Diastasis Recti With These Proven Training Methods

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Last Updated on January 5, 2021

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

Starting a journey with fitness goals is never easy, and you must remember this is not a crash diet; it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once, as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diets are not sustainable.

The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits, and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good ones.

Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

1. Drink More Water

W.H. Auden said it best when he said,

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrients to your bones and muscles, and even improving cognitive function.

Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day, i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

2. Add Some Lemon and Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, but this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing, and digestion.

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3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

Yes, keeping hydrated is important, but try to avoid high-calorie drinks, such as soft drinks, specialty coffee, and juices as they are full of fast-acting sugar.

Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks, and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

4. Start Stretching More Often

The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

Do yourself a favor and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility, and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

Here’re some simple stretching exercises to get you started: 15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now, and believe me when I say that it works and should absolutely be included in your fitness goals.

The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles, and fantastic hormonal benefits.

HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds), followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

For the most part, breathing is second nature, but when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath, and this can have negative consequences.

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It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, as this will fill your lungs with oxygen and give you the necessary energy to continue your workout.

7. Build More Lean Muscle

We all want to have lean muscles. Not only does it look good, but it also has great health benefits, including:

  • Improved posture
  • Reduced body fat
  • Improved metabolism
  • Strong bones
  • Protects and improves joint health
  • Improved stamina

You can build lean muscle by lifting weights or through other specific exercises. Learn more about building muscle in this guide: How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

8. Decrease Body Fat

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

  • Improved joints and tendons
  • Lowered risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better performance and endurance
  • Improved appearance and confidence
  • Better hormonal profiles in your body

Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat. Healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week for your fitness goals.[2]

Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

Think of it as a lifestyle, and take it slow and steady.

9. Eat More Greens

What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

Focus on dark, leafy greens, as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants—all of which you body needs!

Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

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10. Start Eliminating Sugar

Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, and will save you money and improve your health in the long run.

There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar, and this should be one of your top fitness goals moving forward. Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

Be careful to eliminate sugar from your diet slowly. Cutting it out all at once can cause symptoms of sugar withdrawal, which can drive you back to sugary snacks[3].

Common symptoms of sugar withdrawal

    11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recover

    The workout is where you go to break down muscle tissue, and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest, and recovery[4]. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals, but that’s not the most effective approach.

    If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

    12. Get More Sleep

    When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body, and over time these can lead to inflammation and chronic diseases.[5]

    Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

    13. Focus on the Habit, Not the Result

    It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you closer to those fitness goals.

    Don’t look at the scale, the tape measurer, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

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    Don’t compare yourself to where others are; you’re right where you need to be.

    14. Take Your Fitness Outside

    This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

    Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

    Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more access to nature and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

    15. Do at Least One Pull Up

    This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

    If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed, but it is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

    The Bottom Line

    These fitness goals will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline for when you want to accomplish some or all of these in order to create realistic goals in the short term. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

    More on Setting Fitness Goals

    Featured photo credit: Ivan Torres via unsplash.com

    Reference

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