For several months now I have been back in the routine of working out regularly and for the most part eating a healthy diet. While my workouts are not quite as up to par as they were pre-baby #2 they are darn close….close enough that I am noticing overall strength and tone in most areas of my body.
Most areas that is except the stubborn tummy zone.
Let me start this off by saying there are far, far, FAR worse things in life than a little pooch – post baby or not. Sure it’s an area I would like to be more tone but it is absolutely not the end of the world to have a little honey in the pot.
Why I am talking about “the pooch” is because mine has been accompanied with far worse things like back pain, poor posture and….um, trouble doing certain activities without, uh…leaking. (Good grief I am talking about peeing my pants on here! Someone get me a cocktail!)
(Now everyone stop what you’re doing and pin that graphic!)
After a couple of months of working out (and a few trips to the chiropractor) I decided to do some research on why all the sudden my lower back was in terrible pain. On a whim I included postpartum in my search even though my baby was a year old. It wasn’t long before I was laying on the living room floor, finding out that I do indeed have diastasis recti.
If you are anything like me you have never heard of diastasis recti nor knew how to check and see if you had it yourself. I have seen stats stating as high as 2 in 3 women who have had more than 1 baby have some form of diastasis recti. Age of mother and size of babe are also significant causes. (Bear in mind like most stats there are always exceptions – if you are young and have only had one tiny baby that doesn’t make you 100% immune to this. Unfortunately…)
What exactly is it? In my terms it’s basically the breakdown of the wall of muscles behind your 6-pack muscles. When we have babies that wall is loosened and stretched by all the hormones and of course that growing miracle. The more babes we have the more stress we put on that wall. Eventually the tissue can sort of give up which leads to insignificant support for your lower back, pelvic and belly area (hence the pooch).
Here’s the bad news. All those crunches, planks and strenuous exercises you are doing to be fit…yeah, they make it worse. Instead of working that important wall of muscles, they put strain on them, weakening them more. Basically as your 6-pack gets stronger, they will bulge out like a pooch because the wall behind them is not strong enough to hold them closer to your body. If you’re thinking “well that sucks”…I’m right there with you.
Good news is it doesn’t matter if your baby isn’t a baby anymore – you can still repair at least some of the damage done, and possibly relieve some lower back pain. Who knows, maybe there’s even a “dry” set of jumping jacks in the future.
First things first though….Do you have it? Check out this video. It’s a far better explanation than what I can give plus it shows you exactly how to check for the separation yourself.
If you have it, don’t fret – I’m in that boat with ya girl (about 2 fingers width worth). What are we going to do? Repair through exercise. This is where I get lost a bit…but I have made the conscious decision to cut out what I know is bad for those muscles and include exercises that will begin the road to recovery. I am starting here – a free pdf of a 12 week program. I am also seriously looking into the MutuSystem (as well as many YouTube videos – simply do a search on diastasis recti and you will find exercises).
What I want everyone to go away with more than anything is that diastisis recti is a thing that all pre and post pregnant women should know about. I for one cannot believe we are not talking about this more, particularly with our health providers and woman to woman. Hopefully this starts a conversation for anyone like me, who has some questionable things going on, and is looking for a possible answer.
Obviously I don’t have my 100% answer yet….but I feel good that I’m on the right track. I’ll keep you posted!
(And please, please, please share any stories here if you are struggling with the same or have treated diastasis recti.)