Have you ever had a flood in your basement? Perhaps a pipe burst or there was a clog causing water to back flow. Either way, if you responded by just scooping out the water with buckets or using towels to absorb it, you wouldn’t get very far. The water would continue to flood your basement and cause more problems. First you have to turn off the water and then you can repair the problem. This is the same approach we take when healing your core. There are two ways we approach the problem: how to fix it and how to stop making the problem worse.
We hear so many stories from people who have spent loads time, energy and money trying to fix their diastasis. They start out diligent with many exercises and wearing their splints, but then lose some consistency and worry their diastasis reopened. They become understandably frustrated and tend to blame whichever program they are using, or assume the problem is needing to exercise more. However, this approach is like continuing to carry out buckets of water from your flooded basement but never looking for the leak.
You have to shut off the water!
Diastasis Recti is a not a free-standing diagnosis. This is so important that I am going to say it again: diastasis recti is not a free-standing diagnosis! It is a result of several factors, the most prominent being an inactive internal core and an overactive external core.
When your internal core muscle (known as the transverse abdominis) is inactive, it forces you into collapsed postures. These postures then put continuous forward pressure on your connective tissue. Without the stability your internal core muscles are supposed to provide, you are forced to use strategies that brace and push out on the abdominal wall every time you lift, bend, strain or challenge yourself. It is this imbalance that creates the diastasis and also keeps it from healing and staying closed. After so much disuse, the transverse muscle becomes a deflated balloon around your waist instead of a strong corset. Because of this, the external muscles start pulling to “help” exacerbating the problem.
Core Rehabilitation aims to change these strategies. Isolating transverse exercises are essential to this and abdominal splinting can play an important role. But then what? It can’t just be for the sake of rehabilitating the muscle. No, your core strength needs to be systematically integrated into everything your body is required to do throughout the day. The functional, real-life use of this muscle is the key to true rehabilitation.
|This is how your transverse abdominis is supposed to look when it is strong and active.|
It would be great if you could just put on a splint and let it fix you. But core rehabilitation just does not work that way. We tell our clients, “Your body is a use it or lose it system.” You need to use the core muscles every day, and most of the day, to have the strength you need for the life you live. In order to “turn off the water”, you must change how your body is using this corset muscle. You can do hundreds of exercises but continuing to ignore your transverse when you pick up your toddler 10 times a day is not going to rebuild your core. Likewise, splinting for months but continuing to sit in a collapsed position while you nurse 8-12 hours a day is not going to heal your core.
|Your transverse is unable to be active when your body is crunched, as this image depicts.|
The Tummy Team addresses every aspect of healing the diastasis and restoring your core. Before you finish our program, you begin to create muscle memory and new habits which help the integration into your daily life. You begin to understand why you are doing what you are doing and you can see and feel the benefits. By the time our clients finish our rehab programs, their core has been systematically integrated into their life. While they still have the strength to build, they now have the knowledge to do it effectively. The exercises we provide are so effective and easy to do anywhere, that clients still benefit from them well after they complete the program.
When our clients close their diastasis, they do not have to worry it will open again. They understand what caused it and they know what to avoid to reopen it. Theoretically, diastasis could happen again, IF you stop using your core, IF you sit, stand and walk with a collapsed posture IF you push out, bear down, crunch, tuck and brace with effort and IF you ignore everything we have taught you about your core. If you do these things, then yes, you can reopen your diastasis. But why would you do that when you have the tools to keep your core strong? Why would you turn the water back on and flood the basement?
Our passion is to help you feel better not just in the next 6-8 weeks but years from now. Don’t ignore what your body needs. And don’t try to take a shortcut. Build the foundation your body needs for the rest of your life. You will not regret it.