I have been on my fitness journey for coming up on 4 months now, and I’ve been getting so freaking frustrated because I can’t seem to kick my “mummy tummy.” My shoulders are toned. My legs look sexy. My arms are freaking fierce. But my little c-section pooch just won’t fuck off. It’s been driving me absolutely insane. Not to mention, my pooch is prohibiting me from achieving some kick ass yoga poses. My core just isn’t as strong as I want it to be, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why.
Sirsasana (“headstand”) variation
So a couple of months into my journey, I started busting my ass with ab workouts. I completed the “10 Minute Ab Fix” from the 21 Day Fix DVDs every night before bed. I really focused on my abs as much as I possibly could. Any workout that had a series on abs, I busted my ass the most during those exercises. A few weeks of doing that, and the only change I noticed was definition in my obliques (those are the muscles that give you that tiny waist, per Autumn Calbrese). Why in the hell was my pooch still prominent and not going away???
Diastasis Recti… say what?? Seriously. What the fuck are you talking about? Sounds like a foreign language. Yeah, well I thought the same thing, too. I had absolutely no idea about diastasis recti, and I really wish I had post pregnancy…. especially since my twow pregnancies were so close together. How did I even learn about this condition?? I happen to literally stumble upon it while doing my daily Pinterest exploration. I did a search on Pinterest of “How to lose my c-section pooch,” and after skimming through a ton of pins, I came to educate myself on diastasis recti.
Diastasis recti is the splitting of the abdominal muscles. It’s common in women that have children close in age, and it tends to happen during pregnancy. Makes sense considering my girls are 12 months apart, and my body had barely anytime to recover between pregnancies. I’ve also learned that typical abdominal exercises can actually WORSEN your condition. So as I sat there and busted out my ab workouts nightly, I was actually making my mommy pooch much worse. This immediately made me want to educate every mother I know!! I spent weeks trying to lose my pooch only to find out I’d been making it worse. What a fucking bummer.
Here’s how to test for Diastasis Recti:
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent in the air.
Place your fingers horizontally in your belly button, and gently lift your head.
Your abdominal muscles will clench around your fingers. If you can fit more than one finger between your ab muscles, you better stop those ab workouts you’ve been busting out for months. (You can also check if your muscles are split above and below your belly button by moving your hand and lifting your head again. Your split can be directly in the center, just above, just below, or the entire mid-section).
When I realized I had diastasis recti, I could fit FOUR fingers between my abs muscles. FOUR. That’s fucking disgusting. A huge gap. No freaking wonder I can’t do some of those awesome yoga poses I’ve discovered. My core just isn’t strong enough. But can it be fixed? Is it too late? And how do I exactly fix it? Do I need surgery?
Turns out some women have such a gap that they require some sort of surgery. But I’ve also learned there are exercises you can do to minimize the gap. Surgery isn’t always the answer. Turns out there are a ton of various exercises out there, but I chose my top 3 picks that I complete daily to assist in healing my condition.
EXERCISES TO HELP HEAL DIASTASIS RECTI:
- KEGELS: Kegels. Kegels. Kegels. My most favorite exercise in the world. I can do that shit while I’m driving or eating dinner. Clench and release. Clench and release. You can literally do this workout anywhere. Just clench those muscles that you use to pinch off your pee and release. You’d be surprised at the amount of strength your body finds merely by doing kegels. How many kegels should you do? As many as you can! Anytime I think about it, I do them. Just keep working those deep muscles. You’ll notice a difference. I’m doing them right now, and you’d never even know it!
- Bridge/Pelvic Tilts: Lie on your back with your knees up. Lift from the hips and squeeze your abdominal muscles together. Hold for a few moments. Release your hips back to the ground. I replace some of the exercises in my workouts with bridge pose/pelvic tilts. Because remember… you can worsen your condition if you put too much stress on your abdomen. I utilize the time in my workouts where traditional abdominal exercises would be and use these safe exercises instead.
- Heel slides: Lie on your back with your knees up. Using your abdominal muscles only (not momentum or your hips), slide your heel until your leg straightens on the ground. Slowly slide your heel back to start position. Much like bridge pose/pelvic tilts, I replace exercises in myn workouts with these instead.
Exercises that can make your condition worse:
Planks (does not include side plank)
*Avoid any exercises that causes strain or pressure on your mid-section.
NOTE: I attend a POWERYoga class two times per week, and there are exercises completed during the class that are in the category of exercises to avoid. I’ve found that completing the exercises as minimal as I do during the week has not caused any issue in my progress. I’ve found it’s more disruptive to my movement/motivation in the class to avoid the exercises than it is to merely complete the modifications and continue on with class.
I have been working towards healing my diastasis recti for about 4 weeks now. In that amount of time, I have gone from a FOUR finger disgusting gap to a TWO finger gap!! Just goes to show that hard work (and education) pays off!! As soon as my abs muscles move to a one (or less) finger gap, I am able to continue with busting my ass in my ab workouts without restrictions. When I learned about this condition, I knew I wanted to educate all of my friends and followers. I don’t want any of you busting your ass to lose your pooch only to realize you’re making it worse. So get your ass down on the floor and CHECK YOURSELF before your WRECK YOURSELF!