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?
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?
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)
The number 1 tip that I give to people who are working on healing their diastasis recti is to correct their pelvic alignment. Your core muscles cannot do their job well when the bones of the body (pelvis) are incorrectly position. Think about buying a house. When you look at a house one of the main aspects you look at is the foundation and the structure. You want to know if it is sound or if it is in need of repair.
Your pelvis is a major structure for supporting your core. If your pelvis is not in the proper position, it does not allow the core muscles to activate properly and it can also weaken the linea alba which is the connective tissue between the rectus abdominal muscles. When healing your diastasis recti it is important to allow the core muscles and the linea alba to be in the best position.
Check out this short video below on how to align your pelvis when standing, sitting, or lying on your back.
In May of 2012, I started to notice
that my belly was not going away after having my twins in February of
2011. I know that our bodies change after pregnancy, especially when you
have 3 of them. However, something was just not sitting right with me about
my belly, so I started to do some investigating. I’m not sure what fueled
my desire to explore this more, my own vanity or curiosity of the human
As I researched, I came across my
answer—diastasis recti. What? Exactly! In all my
10-plus years in the fitness world, I had never heard of this. The more I
researched, the more curious, frustrated, and even angry I became. A
diastasis recti is the separation of the rectus abdominis (the “six
pack” muscle). When this occurs, the integrity of the rectus abdominis has been
lost and weakened.
Again, I am not sure which fueled my
desire to fix this–vanity or curiosity of the human body, but I was determined
to get to the bottom of this.
Below are some before and after
pictures of my belly. I am sharing these pictures as a way to show
measureable differences in my belly as I started to make some changes in how I
carried my body. My goal was to see if the changes I was implementing
were actually helping and when I discovered that they were I decided to share
it with each of you.
The first set pictures I took of my belly in August of 2012. You will also notice various comments next to the pictures. I’m adding the comments as a way of evaluated the anatomical elements of my body. My comments are not meant to as a way of shaming my body. No matter what one’s body looks like, we are beautifully and wonderfully made. So knowing that, why did I want to fix my diastasis? Well, because a diastasis is a result of me not taking care of my body well.
After these pictures, I began the
work of correcting my diastasis.
Step 1: Learn how to get up and down from the floor without stressing the rectus abdominal muscles by rolling to my side and using my arms to press me up into a seated position.
Step 2: Change my entire mindset on abdominal strengthening and avoid/stop doing many things I thought strengthened my abs like crunches, sit-ups and even plank pose. (More to come on this topic as this was the most difficult step for me.)
Step 3: Change my alignment. Position my pelvis over my heels and stop pushing my rib cage forward. Find out more here about proper alignment.
Step 4: Find my transverse abdominal muscles and start working them
(Yes, even my experience and training as a Pilates Instructor failed to teach
Step 5: Accept the fact that reworking my muscles that have
forgotten what to do takes time.
Step 6: Be patient and keep working on my alignment and my transverse abdominal muscles.
Here are my pictures two months
Now onto my side view from December 2012, another few months later.
During this process I lost a 1/2 inch on my waist and gained a whole lot of awareness on how to take better care of my core/body.
Below are my most recent photos as my journey with healing my diastasis is on-going—which is the story for many people.