Diastasis Recti

Do you have a diastasis? I DO! Surprisingly, being in the medical field I had never heard much of this before becoming pregnant. When I was about 20 weeks along I noticed this strange ‘ridge’ forming in the middle of my stomach every time I leaned backwards or got out of bed. Naturally, I freaked out. I did some research and this is what I learned.

“Diastasis recti is a separation between the left and right side of the rectus abdominis muscle. This muscle covers the front surface of the belly area… Pregnant women may develop the condition because of increased tension on the abdominal wall. The risk is higher if with multiple births or many pregnancies.” (source). “A diastasis recti looks like a ridge, which runs down the middle of the belly area. It stretches from the bottom of the breastbone to the belly button. It increases with muscle straining” (source).


So what to do? First I realized that a lot of what I was doing was all wrong, and had probably made my condition worse, hence why I noticed it so early on in my pregnancy. Being a first time mom I wasn’t showing much at all in my first trimester and therefore decided it would be beneficial to continue an abdominal and core strengthening routine throughout the first trimester. Well, this was a mistake.

There are many exercises that are contraindicated for diastasis recti, including crunches, planks, V sits, and pretty much all your standard ab exercises! Also, I realized that I had an very tight rectus abdominus, that was out of balance with the rest of my core muscles, putting extra strain and pressure on my linea alba (the connective tissue between the two sides of your abdominals), which in turn increased my risk of developing a diastasis.

So first thing I did, I stopped working out my abs. Second thing I did was cry a little, haha kidding, but really I was pretty upset and feeling a little stupid. Lastly, I pulled out my old therapy books and look up what I can do to be proactive about healing this diastasis both before and after this baby is born.

During pregnancy there are a few things you can do in order to prevent this, or in my case prevent it from getting worse. It is important to be aware of how you are moving and how much strain you are putting on your abdominal muscles. For example, the way I would normally get out of bed (simply by sitting up) puts an excessive amount of force on my abs and literally tears them further apart every single time. By using a log rolling technique, where you lie on your side and use your arms and the help of gravity to get up helps to decrease this strain and tension. Also, being aware to engage your transverse abdominus (TA) when doing any lifting or bending also helps protect your abs and distributes the force evenly across your entire core.

What is your TA?

It is the muscle that acts like a corset, supporting your torso and core muscles from the front around to the back. Now, being in my last trimester I am focusing on strengthening my TA and pelvic floor muscles not only to prevent further diastasis but also to aid with labor and delivery. After birth, the same principles still apply. Doing 100 crunches a day will do nothing for your mummy tummy except make it worse! There are many exercises that can hurt a diastasis and cause it to never heal properly, and others that encourage the muscles to heal the way they were before.

Kinesiotaping for Diastasis Recti

The last thing I would like to share with you on this topic is the power of Kinesiotaping. If you haven’t heard of this, it’s a fairly new concept that uses fabric elastic tape applied to the skin in order to aid with recovery and the healing process. A more in depth explanation is supplied below, from here

“The Kinesio Taping® Method is a definitive rehabilitative taping technique that is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while providing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion as well as providing extended soft tissue manipulation to prolong the benefits of manual therapy administered within the clinical setting. Latex-free and wearable for days at a time, Kinesio® Tex Tape is safe for populations ranging from pediatric to geriatric, and successfully treats a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and other medical conditions. The Kinesio® Taping Method is a therapeutic taping technique not only offering your patient the support they are looking for, but also rehabilitating the affected condition as well. By targeting different receptors within the somatosensory system, Kinesio® Tex Tape alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin.  This lifting affect forms convolutions in the skin thus increasing interstitial space and allowing for a decrease in inflammation of the affected areas”.

After reviewing various coursewares from my past and reviewing the application and proper use of Kinesiotape I discovered that this could also be used during and after pregnancy! So here I go, trying anything I can to be proactive about healing my diastasis.

This is me in the picture below, I think I’m around 31 or 32 weeks here, and I have been applying the tape for approximately a month leaving it on for 3 days, then taking it off for one, then back on for 3, etc. By placing the tape in this formation using proper technique, it essentially ‘reminds’ my muscles that they are meant to be together and not pull apart, encouraging proper alignment and decreasing tension on the linea alba.

IMG_3318IMG_3319Yes, I look silly, and I get alot of attention in the pool change room! But it’s a small price to pay for something that really works. When I take off the tape I usually check the status of my diastasis, and after using the tape for 2 months it has not gotten any worse! This is shocking to me considered how much larger my stomach has gotten, and I also have not had any pain associated with it. I also feel it serves as a proprioceptive reminder to keep my core in proper alignment and reminds me to engage my other muscles during activities to protect this fragile connective tissue.

I hope you learned something from this article! Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions about my own personal experience so far. I am so pleased with the outcome thus far that I have signed up for a hands on course on how to use Kinesiotape for a multitude of different conditions, so look forward to future posts on this subject!

Read more on some new posts I wrote here and here! Do you have a diastasis and don’t know what to do about it? Contact me today, I can help!

In fitness and good health,
Natasha

Please like & share:

Pregnancy

IMG_3342
So, I’m currently 33 ½ weeks pregnant. Getting down to the home stretch! This has been such an overwhelming experience that I don’t even know where to start. I have learned so much about myself, the human body, and the miracle of creating a human being! Most importantly I feel this has been a life changing experience as it has given me a different perspective on health, beauty, and fitness, as well as the struggles that others go through mentally and physically dealing with weight gain, injuries, and accepting things that are out of your control. So far I have gained nearly 40 pounds, 40 POUNDS and I still have 6 weeks left! By 20 weeks pregnant I had already gained over 20, and this was a very hard reality for me. I have a type A personality, which in many ways is a positive thing! I am organized, detail oriented, strong willed, and dedicated to whatever I put my mind to. But when faced with things that are out of my control (which in this case was weight gain during pregnancy) it took me some time to sort out the feelings in my head and see the positives instead of dwelling on the negatives. The weight gain was due to a few things, 1) due to my nausea I felt terrible if I didn’t snack on something all day, I could only stomach crackers, soup, and toast, which obviously weren’t the healthiest choices, but you do what you have to do in order to not throw up all day at work! 2) I had some minor complications early on so my doctor put me on activity restrictions. I was obviously concerned about the health of my baby so I listened and followed her every word! Going from working out 5x a week to not being able to do more than a brisk walk was a huge adjustment. At first I thought, why even bother, I might as well sit around and do nothing! Then I decided to see the positive side and use this as a time to explore different opportunities and adapt to these changes. I began swimming again and realized how much I missed it! I also continued with yoga, but instead of going to the studio I practiced at home which allowed me to modify and adapt the moves without feeling like everyone in the class was watching me. I started Pilates, which is awesome. A perfect combination of all the things I love, stretching, strengthening, postural control and body alignment. I began seeing a chiropractor for my low back and hip pain and committed myself to doing my therapy exercises every night. All of these things made me happier, healthier, and brought me to the realization that there is no point to sit around and think about all the things that I can’t do, but rather enjoy doing the things I can! I was desperately in need of those feel good endorphins at the time and exercise, no matter in what form, made me feel like myself again and less like I was living in another persons body. Today, I am continuing to exercise 4 days a week, I feel great, I have lots of energy, my joint pain is gone, and I am very focused on training my body to get ready for labor. I am so blessed to be carrying this little girl and we just cant wait to meet her!
In fitness and good health,
Natasha

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Please like & share:
Santa Barbara Personal Training, Group Training, Consultation Services