DIASTASIS RECTUS ABDOMINIS: FILLING THE GAP
This final post in the three part blog series will help you bring everything together and allow you to move forward with training.
With a strong core, you will be able to effectively and efficiently transfer load. Obviously when I mention “strong core” I am not talking about a six pack. As good as that may look, it screams dysfunction. Sit-ups and crunches should be banned in all 50 states. Yes, I am serious. When I say strong, I am talking about moving with activation of your diaphragm, pelvic floor, and all abdominal and lumbar musculature with proper movement patterns as mentioned in Part 1 and 2 of this series. During pregnancy, I work with women to train for the “big event.” This means assessing women in movements she is frequently doing and making sure they are being done well. Any movement that exacerbates an already present diastasis needs to be avoided. This applies to both pregnancy and postpartum. For any of you that have already trained for any event, you know that great training leads to better recovery. Birth is the biggest athletic event of a woman’s life, and – trust me – you will appreciate a quicker recovery.
While the exercises demonstrated in the functional progression video seem simple, I guarantee you will find the challenge in actually performing these clean movements; especially as you are just starting. It is crucial to focus on the movement itself and not how many repetitions or sets you are getting in. Once this foundation is solid, resistance and weight can be added to the extremities. (Watch for videos coming soon. )
Focused core work should be done on a regular basis and I recommend adding at least one of the functional progression steps into each warm-up as well as spending 2-3 days per week moving through the entire progression. This may be body weight only or with resistance and or added weight.
Why should you continue to work through this progression and what will this help? Other than the obvious benefits listed in the previous blogs, it will be helping you literally all of the time. To prove this to you all you need to do is answer one question for me: How often do you breathe? Okay, point proven. Really though, it is that important. Yes, I could go on about the benefits of strength training and the benefits of hiking or biking or even running and how your core function is DIRECTLY related to each of these, but I will not. I will not because when it comes to core health, it does not matter what form of activity you choose. You need this stability to walk to your car. Hell, you need this stability to sit at your desk all day.
As chiropractors, my husband and I work with all levels of athletes (females and males), from amateurs to world champions. It can be humbling when the weights are taken away to perfect these basic movements. But time and time again, we see the benefit. Performance gains are made faster and injuries are reduced. Gaining this stability and strength can help to reach performance levels that may even be beyond what our athletes expected. And truly, we are all athletes; the variation is to what degree we utilize our athletic capability. Again, birth is the biggest athletic event of a woman’s life! Improving “performance gains” in birth means improved labor outcomes and “reduced injury” translates to faster healing postpartum!
Your body is incredibly intelligent and you will move from point A to point B if needed. The question is whether you are both effective and efficient. If you are moving with compensation (or birthing with compensation) instead of function you are setting yourself up for injury. You may not see the side effects of compensation immediately, but I guarantee you will eventually. The side effects show up in numerous ways: shoulder injuries, knee injuries, low back pain, neck pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, DIASTASIS!
Compensations, also known as poor movement patterns, lead to what I call “energy leaks.” This is a forced (instead of smooth) transfer of load, taking more energy and causing decreased performance. If you are healing a diastasis postpartum, know that leaving this untreated is not without further issues. DRA not only causes troubles for mom but can potentially affect future pregnancies, including positioning of baby and labor. When we apply this idea of forced transfer of load instead of smooth transfer of load, we’re talking about physically transferring the load (weight) of your baby from internal to external.
Please look at the big picture. Your body moves as a whole unit. Train it that way. Whether you want to move heavy weight, run a mile, walk up a flight of stairs to work, or give birth, you need your entire core to be stable! An injury will cause you to realize how much your core is needed in EVERY. SINGLE. MOVEMENT. As you return to or start activity, this is work you should continue to improve for the rest of your life. Implement these changes. Pay attention to the form you are perfecting during your core work and make sure it is as clean when you deadlift that weight from the ground. It is going to take being mindful to make this habitual, but you will reap the rewards.
Ideally, you won’t know the full extent of these rewards because ideally, years from now you will still be implementing these functional movements and making time for this habit instead of worrying about bathroom stops on your one hour drive, peeing your pants at the bottom of a snatch, and last but not least, your “gap” will be filled.
Share this information with others. Be part of this paradigm shift by exposing others to information that can truly be life changing.
Remember, postpartum lasts a lifetime and movement is life. Do not settle or own dysfunction because you are female, age X and/or have had children. You deserve a quality life and this is certainly going to help you achieve that!
QUICK TIPS REFERENCE LIST
Top 3 Exercises for Pregnancy:
Top 3 Exercises for Postpartum:
Avoid: (During pregnancy and postpartum)
Poor Posture & Prolonged Sitting
ANY exercise that aggravates DRA (this may include, but not limited to, planks, push-ups, and pullups)
Please, if you have any questions at all, then I encourage you to set-up a phone consultation with me. I’m super eager to discuss all things pelvic floor and core related. And, I’m even more motivated to help you get moving again. After all, MOVEMENT IS LIFE!
-Dr. Erica Boland, DC
Mother of 4