Did you know that you are making your mommy pooch worse? If you are like me, right after you had your baby, or in my case babies (twins), you couldn’t wait to try to get your flat tummy back. As soon as I was cleared to exercise 8 weeks after my C-section, I started to work on my abs right away. I was doing all kinds of crunches, not knowing that I was actually making my problem worse. Did you know that crunches are actually one of the worst things that you can do post-partum to try to get your body back? It is very common for moms to develop what is called diastasis recti. If you had a big baby, multiples (as I did), or more than one pregnancy, it is likely that you have diastasis recti. Now you might be wondering what does that mean and how do you know if you have diastasis recti.
Diastasis recti, simply put, is an abdominal separation. During pregnancy your transverse abs separated and never fully came back together again. Some moms are lucky and the muscles go back together on their own. For many of us, we are not so lucky. How do you know if you have diastasis recti? It is easy to find out. Here is a video of me checking my diastasis recti. Diastasis recti is measured in finger widths. Mine measures at a 4 down from a 9.
Now, go and test yourself. If you have diastasis recti, or DR, as it is also referred to, stop doing crunches right away. I cringe when I see mommy friends at the gym doing crunches. They are working so hard to try to flatten that pooch, but it is getting worse. I really noticed how bad my DR was when I was 9 months post-partum. I was doing crunches and my stomach looked like it had a dome coming out of it. I was horrified. I thought to myself, what is that?!?!?!
Any movement you make that puts outward pressure on your abdominal wall is actually making your condition worse. Next time you are doing yoga or Pilates, pay attention to any position that puts outward pressure on your abdominal wall. Yoga positions like upward dog, camel, twisting positions, make sure to modify those positions so that you are not making your worsening your diastasis. I don’t know enough about Pilates, but I know that a lot of Pilate’s movements will make it worse. When you are lifting weights, make sure that you are not using too heavy of a weight that you are putting that outward pressure on your abdominal wall. Planks are another exercise that you should avoid until you have closed your gap. You really need to be mindful of your movements during your workouts. Even getting up from lying on a bench at the gym is making your problem worse. Roll off of the bench rather than sitting up to get off of the bench. The same goes for even getting out of bed in the morning. You need to be mindful of your movements!
Now, it is not all doom and gloom, and you can work to close that diastasis. Don’t do crunches! With some lifestyle changes and some core work, you will be able to help close that gap. I went from a 9 finger gap down to a 4 in my worst spot, to closing it completely in some spots. Simply starting to be more mindful of your movements and stopping those crunches is going to help. Stay tuned, and I will show you some core work that will help you close your diastasis.