Have you had a kid or two and can’t seem to get that flat stomach back? Do you feel like you are doing A LOT of sit ups, eating well, but there is just that one floppy part that won’t go away? Well, it might not be your fault at all, and those regular sit ups are not going to do anything for you!
After doing my prenatal postpartum certification it really opened up my eyes for the issues moms have to face after giving birth. I dont think there is enough information out there about this, so here I go with my first mommy- fitness post 🙂
Let me tell you about Recti Split.
It is very common for pregnant women to experience separation of their abdominal muscles. This causes poor core strength and can lead to low back issues, digestive issues and a jelly belly (mummy tummy).
70% of women who have had a baby will have split abdominals (diastasis recti); that’s two out of every three! Yet most mothers are not aware that they have a split and often the condition goes untreated.
But I know that you who are reading this now, wants to know how you can first of all find out if you have recti split and most importantly how you can fix it!
A diastasis is measured in fingers because that’s the easiest way for you to tell exactly how far your muscles have separated. Given that everyone’s fingers are different sizes this is not a perfect form of measurement; but the important factor is that you can easily check and measure a diastasis on your own.
Here’s how you check:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your head on the floor.
- Place your hand on your stomach with the fingers pointing in the direction of your toes
- Press your middle three fingers into your belly button.
- Relax your abdominal muscles and gently lift your head, drawing your chin towards your chest. If you are holding your abdominal muscles in as you check it will give you a false reading as this will make the diastasis appear smaller. The muscles will also get closer together the higher you lift your head.
- If you have a diastasis you will be able to feel the rectus abdominis tightening up on either side of your fingers. If you cannot feel this muscular contraction you may need to place more fingers in the gap between the muscles so you can measure it correctly. In some cases this gap may be 10+ fingers wide.
- You also want to determine the condition of the connective tissue. The deeper your fingers will go towards your spine, the weaker the connective tissue. If you feel a pulsing while you are checking, this is a sign of very weak connective tissue.
- If, when you raise your head, you simply feel your stomach muscles tighten underneath your fingertips (as opposed to tightening on each side) then you do not have a diastasis.
Unfortunately some doctors choose to advice everyone with recti split for a tummy tuck making it sound like that is the only option. For some severe cases that might be the only option, but in most cases, all you need to do is the right exercises.
What you need to do:
AVOID THESE EXERCISES: Reverse leg lowers, Frontal planks, all crunches, Pilates 100s, Oblique Twists.
First, you need to FIND and connect with your deep core muscles. Here’s how: Without raising or tensing your chest or shoulders, GENTLY draw your belly button back towards your spine as you slowly exhale. That’s the right muscle! You’re not ‘sucking in’ or making any forceful or exaggerated movement. Your pelvis shouldn’t tuck under as you do this – in fact nothing should be happening in your shoulders, chest or pelvis! – it is just a subtle drawing in at the lower abs.
Then good exercises TO START WITH are:
The head raise is a deceptively easy looking exercise that can help correct a separated rectus. Start by lying face up on the floor with your head on a pillow, your knees bent and your feet flat. Wrap a towel around your waist, crossing it over your abs and grasping an end in each hand. As you raise your head to bring your chin to your chest, exhale and pull your belly button to your spine while lightly pulling outward on either ends of the towel. Imagine the gap in your rectus abdominis getting smaller. Hold the contraction for five seconds and then release it as you lower your head back down. Do this 10 times, three times a day.
here is how:
Pelvic tilts effectively strengthen your stabilizing muscles. Start this exercise by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet shoulder-width apart on the floor. After exhaling and engaging your transverse abdominis by pulling your belly button to your spine, engage your buttocks and roll your hips back. Imagine trying to eliminate the space between your back and the floor. Hold the contraction in your tummy for up to five seconds and then release it and return your hips to the starting point. Perform pelvic tilts up to 10 times, three times a day.
If you are up for it you can also rise the pelvic up from the floor and do the pelvic tilt from there.
See video here!: IMG_2074
The hip lift, sometimes also referred to as the bridge exercise, is also done while lying on the floor on your back, with your feet flat and knees bent. This exercise is the next step up from the pelvic tilt. It starts in a similar manner; you draw your navel to your spine and engage your glutes. Instead of staying on the floor, you raise your hips and back until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold the contraction for up to five seconds and then lower back down to the starting point. Repeat this motion 10 times, up to three times a day.
here is how:
This is how you want to start and then build from there as you get stronger!
I hope this helped as I know from a lot of my clients that this is a problem.
Let me know if some pictures or videos would have helped here and I will make sure to update with that!
Lots of love from Johanna