Heal Your Diastasis with Butt Exercises

During my research of a diastasis, I discovered that proper glute function is a key element of healing a disastasis. At first, this seemed odd to me as a diastasis is on the front side of the body, and the glutes are on the backside of the body. Why would something on the back side of the body impact something on the front side? The glutes act as a pulley system for the pelvis, thus minimizing how much the pelvis moves forward over one’s toes when standing.

Click here to gain further information on how the glutes act as a lever to pull the pelvis back over the heels.

Even if you think you have pretty good glute strength, don’t bypass this blog, because your glute strength is likely not as good as you think.

Try this. Stand sideways in a full length mirror. If you don’t have a full length mirror, have a friend evaluate you. When you stand, is the center of your pelvis over the heels or arch of your foot? If your pelvis is centered over the arch of your foot, you have glutes that are taking a vacation. (Note: Do you have flat feet, too? Our arches were not meant to carry the weight of our body, which causes them to collapse over time. Our heels were meant to carry our weight.

Warrior 3 and Chair Pose are great poses to test how your glutes activate during movement. Practice along to the videos below and notice how your body responds. Are your quads activating or your glutes? Or a little bit of both?

Bent Knees, Straight Knees, Locked Knees – What?

I used to be a compulsive knee locker. I also used to be a compulsive knee bender. Does this confuse anyone else, or is it just me?  I thought that the way to prevent locking your knees was to softly bend your knees; however, I have discovered you can still lock the knee caps in a bent knee position.  Anatomically, the quadriceps engage the patella upward, so you can bend the knee joint but also keep the quadriceps engage which will lock the knee cap in place.

Can’t really tell the difference can you? That is because bending the knee doesn’t automatically cause the knees to stop being locked.

This chronic holding pattern of having my knees locked (patella lifted) and thighs engaged explains so much about how my body has felt over the last 10 years. At times my knees give out or bother me. My quadriceps are always tired. Well, you would be tired too if you never got an opportunity to rest?

It took me months and months of practice to train my quads to stop engaging all the time. The video below from Nutritious Movement explains how the knees should align and how to learn to disengage the quadriceps all the time.

While going through this process, I realized that my left leg has a much more difficult time letting go, which explains why my left knee and hip bother me much more than my right.

These chronic holding patterns will eventually lead me to further joint issues and possible knee replacement or even osteoporosis.

One of the biggest reasons for my quadriceps not turning off is due to imbalances with my glute engagement (butt muscles). I have found that most people think they have strong glutes, but the fact is, their glutes don’t know how to turn on—meaning, they do not fire when needed, which makes other muscles like the quadriceps kick in instead.

Our glutes can shut off for several reasons, one of which is standing improperly. If you stand with your hips forward (towards the front of the foot), you have turned off your glutes. Active glutes work as a pulley system to draw the pelvis back.

When we continually walk and stand with bent knees, that also is an indication of turned off glutes. When your glutes are strong, they will draw the pelvis and knees back so you can fully extend your legs.

Here are a few ways to determine if you have weak glutes:

  1.  Look at your posture in a mirror. Do you stand plumb with your pelvis over your heels? If not, you have weak glutes. 
  2. When you get in and out of a chair, do your knees come towards each other? If so, you have weak glutes.
  3. When you perform a squat, do your knees stay stacked over your ankles? If not, you have weak glutes.

The following exercises will help strengthen your glutes.

Why I Ditched Kegels

Pelvic floor health is something I have had a passion for ever since the birth of my first child. After my daughter’s birth, my pelvic floor was just not the same. Jumping and trampolines made me nervous.

At my post-natal follow up, I found I had a cystocele, which is a slight drop of the vaginal wall.  As I searched how to correct my pelvic floor dysfunction, the unanimous answer was Kegels.

Here is a little history on Kegels.

Kegels were first published in 1948 by Arnold Kegel. A Kegel exercise is to repeatedly contract and relax the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor. The aim of Kegel exercises is to improve muscle tone by strengthening the pubococcygeus muscles of the pelvic floor. For four years, I did Kegels on and off to correct my pelvic floor issues and I saw no change. I thought this was due to having my children too close together, not having enough time to heal, and not doing enough Kegels.

What’s the matter with the Kegel?
When muscles are too tight, they are just as ineffective as muscles that are weak. Kegels often over work the muscles of the pelvic floor, which causes them to shorten. As the pelvic floor shortens, it begins to draw the sacrum towards the pubic bone (front side of the body). This movement creates slack in the pelvic floor muscles, which makes the center of it sag downward. In addition, the pull of the sacrum forward can cause lower back pain. Anyone have an increase in lower back pain since doing Kegels on a regular basis?

Kegels are a short-term solution to a whole body problem. Practicing the tips below are much more effective in healing pelvic floor disorders than any amount of Kegels. Kegels are good for creating a mind/body relationship to the muscles in the pelvic floor and during intercourse, but that is about it.

If you want to understand more about why a Kegels should not be the only part of your pelvic floor repair work, check out this great blog post.

So if the Kegel is not good for the pelvic floor, what is?

  1. Align your pelvis

2. Align your feet and stretch the legs

3. Standing more (but in good alignment)

4. Stop sucking in (let your belly be a belly and hang out)

5. Start healing your diastasis recti

6. Learn how to engage your transverse abdominal muscles correctly

This book is also a life saver for understanding how to heal pelvic floor disorders and disatasis recti.

How do I know I have a Diastasis Recti?

Checking yourself for a diastasis recti is very helpful in understanding how to create a healthy movement lifestyle. Take a couple of minutes to find out if you have a diastasis recti now.

Additional Resources:

Learn more about my diastasis journey.

Build a butt to help with a diastasis.

Check out our diastasis safe movement videos.

Moving into an Alignment Filled Life

  1. Stand with your pelvis over your heels (not your toes)
  2. Carry your kids in front of you without compromising your alignment

Posture is not alignment. Posture is about how you hold something, and many of us hold our posture very poorly. However, alignment is the optimal way that something should be placed in order to work the most effectively and efficiently.

What does proper alignment looks like?

  1. Step your feet pelvic distance apart.
  2. Turn your feet forward so that your heels are directly behind you.
  3. Stack your ears over your shoulders, shoulders over your hips, hips over your knees, knees over your ankles.

The first step in restoring one’s body has to start with alignment. Alignment is how your body will best operate and function. So, this where we start, friends—practicing alignment as much as you can in your daily life.

Standing in line at the grocery store.

Washing dishes.

Going for a walk.

Holding children.

Standing at your computer. (Yep, standing, try that.)

As you practice proper alignment, you may find that you become tired easily. That is normal and to be expected. Practicing proper alignment requires new muscles to turn on. So, if you are finding yourself getting tired, come out of proper alignment and then go back into it after you have rested a bit. Over time, you will build up your endurance to stand in proper alignment and your body will start to crave it.

Not only does proper alignment affect your muscles, it affects all the systems in your body. When you are in good alignment, you give your organs more room to do their work and allow the circulatory system to move blood most efficiently.

So, what does that mean on a practical level?

  • Your heart doesn’t need to work so hard to pump blood through your body because all of the veins and arteries are in elongated positions and not rounded or shorted. (Think about rounded shoulders, when you round your shoulders, all the veins/arteries take on rounded postures with you).
  • For women, your uterus will be able to move into the proper place in your body, which means easier periods, less cramping, and less need to go to the bathroom.
  • For men, it gives your prostate more room.
  • Your kidneys, liver, and stomach have more room to process your foods and eliminate those things the body no longer needs.

Proper alignment affects much more than bones and muscle. It affects all aspects of the body. And I forgot to mention…guess what the best way to combat osteoporosis is? To have your bones properly stacked on top of one another—proper alignment.

  1. Utilize a standing work station
  2. Sit on an exercise ball
  3. Change your shoes to minimalist (no heel) shoes (click here to read more about how to do this)
  4. Purchase some alignment socks to stretch out your feet (your feet will LOVE you for it)
  5. Practice this calf stretch – Place your foot on a 1/2 dome or a yoga mat.  Keep your heel on the floor and your toes straight forward.  Make sure the heel is in alignment as well, it will typically want to turn inward to by pass the stretch.  Make sure you stand tall with your weight on your back foot and both legs straight.  Relax your knee caps.  Hold for a minute on each leg.
  6. Don’t wear flip flops
  7. Sit on the floor more
  8. Walk daily

Note: if you have a diastasis recti (mummy tummy), ALL of these will help you in healing it.