Is Your Rectus Wrecked?
If you are a birth mom, you may be familiar with the term diastasis recti. This is the temporary separation of the rectus abdominis muscles to allow the expansion of your uterus during the growth of your baby (babies for you moms of multiples). I love how God designed the muscles of the torso to allow for this. It is just one of the many millions of little details He paid attention to when He created us.
Diastasis Recti (DR) is a symptom rather than a condition. I keep referring to it as a condition in the video. But the more I think about it, the more it is a symptom of an unsupported and unstable core. The cause of this unstable core is typically pregnancy, but it also lies in the integrity of your connective tissue (the linea alba line that is the dividing line between the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis). Although pregnancy is specific to the ladies, diastasis recti is not. Men have the same torso musculature and they too can get this condition if their stomach area expands too large, relative to their body. As do women who haven't been pregnant. If you are not mindful of what you're eating, or if exercise is not a priority, your body's core stability and connective tissue integrity suffer.
Although this condition isn't harmful really, it is uncomfortable, causes back pain and sometimes abdominal pain. Lots of women (lots of YOU) express insecurities in regards to how they feel about their stomach post pregnancy. It could potentially lead to a hernia if severe enough and left unaddressed, so incorporating these exercises is important.
If you are uncertain if you have DR, here is a simple test you can perform. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, shoulders relaxed and head back against the floor to begin. Place your fingers (plam facing you) just above your belly button. Lift your head and neck a little off the floor, with shoulders still down, and press down with your fingertips. If you feel a gap, that is the separation. You might feel the muscles close in around your fingers as you lift your head and neck. Repeat the test directly over your belly button and 2-3 inches below. You want to feel a little tension against your finger from the linea alba (the center line). If you don't sense it, there is some improvement to be made. *most of the information from this paragraph, I received from mutusystem.com
Here are two core function tests you can perform in order to measure the progress you are making with your core strength and stability (both found in the book How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy! by Paul Chek).
- Forward Bend Test: Cut a section of string long enough to tie around your waist. Stand upright, take a deep breath and draw our belly button inward. With your belly button drawn, tie the string around your waist. It should feel tight if you let your stomach hang out. Place an object in from of you (a weight - one that you can pick up comfortably, but it is not too light). Now bend over and pick up the object. Repeat a few times and notice what happens around the string. If you feel the string around your waist tightening or staying the same, your transversus abdominis is most likely not activating. You should feel the string loosen as you bend forward and your transversus abdominis turns on to stabilize the spine as you bend forward and lift the object. If you did not pass this test, watch the video and perform those exercises regularly.
- Lower Abdominal Coordination Test: Lie on your back with your knees fully bent to 90 degrees, feet lifted off the floor. Place one hand under your lower back (or both if more comfortable), then bring your feet off the floor. Tilt your pelvis backward and flatten your back against your fingers - very much like the 2nd exercise in the video. Hold pressure, keeping the bony prominences of your spine on your fingers as you attempt to lower your feet to the ground. If you cannot maintain the pressure of your spine on your fingers as you lower your feet, refer to the video and regularly perform the exercises. Retest often to measure improvement.
*In the video the first 5 exercises are for everyone to try. The final 2 (the ones done in the prone position) are for those who have achieved some correction and stabilization.
*In the video I refer to this Solid Core workout for you ladies who are working to increase your connective tissue. This is for anyone who has corrected DR and for anyone who doesn't have it.
Please let me know when you try these and what your progress is. Please keep in mind that it takes years for some people to achieve the correction necessary for realignment and proper stabilization and strength. But with consistent effort, a clean diet, proper hydration, a positive attitude and good sleep patterns you will be sure to see results!