The latest uproar in the female running arena seems to be Diastasis Recti, a condition marked by a vertical separation in the abdominal muscles. This occurs due to the widening and thinning of the midline tissue due to the force exerted on the abdominal wall.
What many of us do not know is that we are all born with that condition and there is nothing new about it. However, the gap between the left and right abdominal muscles shrinks by the age of three.
Another least observed fact about Diastasis Recti is the presence of pot belly. All those people who are proud and not-so-proud owners of a pot belly might have this condition. This includes infants and toddlers, obese and of course, the soon-to-be mommas. Again, not all of these will have this condition.
Since it often goes undiagnosed, the first thing I would want you to do is check if you have this by following the below given steps:
- Lie down on your back, legs stretched out and hands on sides.
- Bend your knees up and place one hand in the centre of your abdomen. The spot is just close to your belly button.
- Lift your upper body up in an attempt to crunch your abdomen and try to push in your fingers between the two abdominal muscles.
For a normal healthy person, it measures no more than one finger, while for women who have just delivered a baby, two and half fingers is considered normal.
I think I have it
If you feel you have Diastasis Recti, do not panic, for the good thing is – it is not going to kill you. The bad part, however, are many:
- Major or minor lower back problems, since the support along the midline of the body is now gone
- Pelvic instability and tilted uterus
- Poor posture
- Digestive issues
And finally, a pot belly that no amount of workout or diet or exercise would be able to budge. Top that with an elevated risk of developing hernia.
I’m an athlete. It won’t happen to me.
Well, most women believe that. Unfortunately, they are wrong, because training your core inappropriately can also lead to a gap being formed in between your abs.
You’d be surprised to know that Joseph Pilates, the inventor of fitness method Pilates, had Diastasis Recti!
Can I close this gap?
Of course you can!
Here is what you should do:
- Avoid any kind of core training exercise until the gap closes. This includes both ab crunching exercises as well as the ab opening exercises like crunches, sit ups, lifting objects, lying over exercise ball, jack knives, etc.
- Avoid all trunk rotations and jumping out from the bed.
- Perform the following yoga exercises
Step 1: Abdominal breathing: Sit in a comfortable position, either cross-legged or on a chair, with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Place one hand on your tummy and another on your chest. Breathe in (on a count of 3) and let your tummy bulge out. Hold for a few seconds. Now, breathe out (on a count of 6) and pull your belly in. Practice this breathing technique of Pranayama twice in a day for 5-10 minutes.
Note: This can also be done while lying on your back. Do not fully straighten your legs as it will put undue strain on your abdomen. Instead, bend your knees slightly by placing a rolled towel beneath them.
Step 2: Wind relieving pose: Lie down on your back, with legs stretched. Rest your ankles on a small cushion to lift them a few inches higher. Now, lift up one leg, fold the knee and bring it closer to your torso. Hug it with both arms to make it touch your chest. Hold this position for a few moments, and then release. Repeat it with the other leg too. Practice this pose once a day for 2-3 times in a row.
Note: Do not lift up your head while doing this pose as it will strain the abdomen.
Step 3: Happy baby pose: Lie down on your back and bend your knees. Slowly, lift up both your legs together in the air. Now, raise your arms to grab the toes. Do not attempt to straighten the knees and just breathe normally. Stay in this position as long as you feel comfortable. Do it twice a day for 3-5 times in a row.
Note: Place a small pillow below your neck if you have neck or cervical pain.
- Rest in Corpse pose or Savasana, if you feel exerted.
- Move to the next step only after you are comfortable with the present step.
After you get comfortable doing these, advance to pose like Half Squat pose and Upward Lunge pose to further shrink the gap.
The benefits of closing this gap range from a flat abdomen to a strong core to no complains of back pain to a smaller waist. This means, no more ‘mummy tummies’ or protruded belly buttons.
Go on working on your abs, making your pregnancy easier, and sharing this information with many others like you. So all of us can enjoy being a mum and an athlete that we are.
Take care! :)
Hi! I’m Mansi, an Ashtangi at home and an Editor at The Workout Trends Blog. Dabbling with health and fitness news is my work while playing around with poses and poetry my passion. Reach out to me at @iam_mansi or add me to your Google circles and stay in touch.