Lost the Weight, But Not the Waistline?
|"I don't care about your waistline Mommy, you're beautiful! Hee-hee!"|
According to Isis Parenting.com's website, "During pregnancy the two halves of the outermost abdominal layer, the rectus abdominis, can become separated. This separation is called diastasis recti, and the separation happens because the growing baby and uterus put a forceful pressure on the connective tissue that holds the two halves of the muscles together, causing the connective tissue to stretch apart and become weak."
Unfortunately, left uncorrected this condition can cause long term back pain. There are ways to reduce the stretched muscles and connective tissue in order to correct the diastasis. I know of three: Yoga, Pilates and crunches at home using a split.
Yoga: Yoga is a low impact work-out that includes a series of "poses", or postures, that give specific benefits like increasing stamina or creating heat in the body through movement. Yoga classes may include breathing techniques and meditation depending on the style in which your yoga teacher was trained. Below is a video of a few yoga exercises that can be used to help strengthen your stomach and regain your waistline.
**Always consult with your doctor first before beginning any exercise routine**
Pilates: This is a form of exercise, developed by Joseph Pilates, that involves strengthening the core muscles and increasing flexibility. Pilates is now used in various forms of rehabilitation and those of us recovering from pregnancy can benefit from these exercises. Pilates also involves certain principles to compliment the exercises, which makes Pilates different from other forms of exercise. Pilates is typically performed using a mat on the floor, however, it can involve the use of specific exercise equipment as well.
Below is a video of some typical Pilates exercises, if you have not begun any core strengthening, maybe take 10 minutes and try these: **Always consult with your doctor first before beginning any exercise routine**
Crunches at home: This is a suggestion from the Isis Parenting website. They suggest using a splint, also known as an abdominal compression binder, while performing your crunches or core exercises. The Belly Bandit is a popular splint used by women who are trying to get their stomach back in shape. **Always consult with your doctor first before beginning any exercise routine**
For further information, check out the Isis Parenting article below at the end of this post.
Sometimes it is difficult for me to get to a Yoga or Pilates class, so I find these videos helpful and educational. I hope this information helps my fellow new moms in their body rebuilding plan - should you have one - or at least get you thinking about getting yourself in the best shape for you.
Remember everyone is different, so I encourage my fellow new moms to follow a plan that is manageable for you and does not increase your stress level.
Good luck and happy tummy strengthening!
Posted June 3, 2012
The article below appeared on the old IsisParenting.com's blog (they now use Facebook) and was written by Isis fitness Instructor, Sara Knight, February 15, 2012.
"The Post-Baby Belly: Identifying and treating diastasis recti
Written on February 15, 2012 by Isis Parenting in Postpartum Fitness, Postpartum Issues and Concerns, Time for You
After pregnancy, many women notice an unwelcome belly bulge; sometimes called the “mummy tummy”, the “muffin top” or the “baby bulge”. Even if you were a fitness enthusiast before, during, and after pregnancy you may notice you just can’t seem to banish the bump! We often think that this new belly is from fat, but it’s actually due to changes in our abdominal muscle structure.
During pregnancy the two halves of the outermost abdominal layer, the rectus abdominis, can become separated. This separation is called diastasis recti, and is the cause of the dreaded belly bulge. The separation happens because the growing baby and uterus put a forceful pressure on the connective tissue that holds the two halves of the muscles together, causing the connective tissue to stretch apart and become weak. Although not all women get diastasis recti when pregnant, it is extremely common. Also, the more pregnancies you experience, the worse it may get.
How can you tell if you have diastasis?
To find out if you have diastasis, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place a hand over your belly button with your fingers pointing towards your toes. Relax your abdominal muscles and lift your head like you are doing a crunch, bringing your ribcage towards your pelvis. Press with gentle pressure and move your fingers from side to side to feel the right and left edges of the rectus abdominis. You have diastasis if the gap between the muscle is 2 fingers wide or more. You may even see a bulge or mound protruding. You can also move your fingers above and below the navel to see how long the separation is.
Can you prevent or reduce the separation?
The good news is, you can help reduce the separation of these muscles by avoiding the following movements:
- Sitting straight up from a lying position. Instead, roll over to one side then use your arms to push you up without the help of your abdominal muscles.
- Abdominal exercises that work the exterior abdominal muscles, like crunches and oblique crossovers. These will put additional strain on your rectus abdominis.
- Lifting and carrying heavy objects or any other movements that cause the belly to protrude out upon exertion.
Yes. Wearing a splint over your post partum belly will help physically bring the two sides of the rectus abdominis together. Splinting while performing core strengthening exercises can help to heal the separation and strengthen the connective tissue. In addition, be aware of your core muscles. By engaging your core during movements such as climbing stairs or carrying a baby, you can prevent further rectus stretching and maybe even help shorten the gap.
For most women, diastasis recti resulting from pregnancy is unavoidable. However, knowing is half the battle, and once you know that you have diastasis, you can be more thoughtful of your exercises and habits to help get rid of that “mummy tummy”!
Sara Knight Isis Fitness Instructor "
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