After years in physical therapy, I am still surprised how often people do not make fixing their ‘tummy’ a priority. When you really consider the core and it’s function, it is shocking that the pursuit of a stronger core is seen as vanity.
Perhaps it is because we feel some pressure to have a flat, Photoshopped, blemish free stomach like all the images we see. But somewhere in the rational portion of our brain, we know that body hasn’t lived our life and may not even be a real representation. So we rebel. We stand up and say, “Forget it! I am not buying in to one more scheme that says I will look like that!”
I absolutely get that. It was the main reason that I myself was so skeptical about seeking answers to what was wrong with my own tummy. Everything I looked into told me how to ‘look skinnier’ and how to look like you’d never even had a baby. With that powerful marketing playing at our deepest emotions, it is impossible not to feel sucked into the money making gimmick of it all. But in our rebellion, we are possibly missing something quite vital. A stronger core is about more than a Photoshopped tummy. It’s about having a stronger core for the life you were meant to live.
To be honest, The Tummy Team began as a way for moms to lose that post-baby belly. That was before I completely healed my own core. That was before I fully understood all that was at stake when dealing with weak and inactive core muscles. (To see Kelly’s personal story, watch this video). You really don’t know how bad things are until they are better. You really don’t understand how weak you are, how much you ignore pain and how much you modify your life until you start working towards a stronger core at the most basic levels.
“You know what you know until you know better… and then you do better.”
Certainly, nothing we did in the first year and a half of our business caused any damage to our clients, but we did not fully address all the details involved in working towards a stronger core. Many people experienced results, but looking back, I see now how that was just a small nugget of what we now know is essential for healing.
That being said, let’s look at the abdominal wall and the core like we would any other body part. Imagine, for example, severely spraining your ankle. You can hardly walk. If you do walk you have to limp in a way that makes your knee, hip, and your back hurt. What would you do? Would you just power through? Would you start jumping on a trampoline or go rollerblading? Would you think it was vain to fix your ankle? Not likely. And if you did for some reason decide to do any of these things, you absolutely would not expect the ankle to get better. Instead, you would seek medical help. You would brace it or cast it depending on its severity, and use crutches until you could slowly start putting weight on it.
If you were following rehabilitation instructions, you would start building up more strength, more mobility, and more stability until it was fully functional again. Though it would take time to run or jump on it again, it’s not out of the question. You might even use a brace when you start exercising again. And if you overdo it – jump ahead before that ankle is solid – you might re-injure it, causing you to need more rehab before you can move forward again.
No one wants to be injured. No one wants to take the time to heal something properly. However, we can all agree that in order to return to the activities we love to do, this course of action is necessary. Once healed, we will always be aware of that ankle. We would never intentionally place the injured ligaments and tendons in the weakest positions over and over again without knowing we are risking re-injury in some capacity. Once you had to take the time to feel better, you would be sure you take care of that ankle.
See where I am going with this? Your deep internal core is just as important, if not more important, than your ankle. If your deep internal core is weak, inactive, unstable, disconnected or you have a separated abdominal wall (known as diastasis recti), you need to rehabilitate and rebuild that muscle. As with any injury, you will need to modify your activities, splint and take caution in how you proceed with activities. Depending on how severe your symptoms or injury, this process may take a little time (and probably more time than you thought).
Your core holds your entire body together. It connects and stabilizes your ribcage to your pelvis, supports your organs and stabilizes your spine. It is important. A stronger core helps your arms and legs move properly. A stronger core maintains your posture and dictates your ability to run, jump and simply to stand or sit without collapsing. It is not vanity to want to have a stronger core!
Diastasis recti is an injury to your abdominal wall. It is usually what is responsible for the post-baby bulge. It is usually the result of a weak internal core and an over-active external core, combined with chronic compensations that cause the connective tissue in the center of your abdominals to pull apart. (To read more about common compensations, read this blog). This is not something you just live with. This is not something you power through and hope will go away. This is a real injury to a vital part of your body that needs core rehabilitation! While Diastasis Recti is common, it is also common to have a weak core resulting in back pain, nerve pain, constipation, and pelvic floor issues even with no diastasis!
You do not have to have a diastasis to need core rehabilitation.
When asked how they feel about their deep internal core, more often than not, people will say, “very weak and completely disconnected.” It is extremely difficult to engage and use a muscle you cannot feel. If your deep internal core muscles are stretched out and resemble more of a deflated balloon around your waist than a solid meaty corset, then you need core rehabilitation to lead to a stronger core and stronger life.
A weak core results in a multitude of serious health issues and leads to chronic medical care for these side effects. It will reveal itself in low back pain, sciatica, pelvic floor issues, pelvic instability, upper back pain, intestinal issues, prostate issues, constipation, abdominal pain, rib pain, and rib instability, hip pain, knee pain, foot pain and can make you more susceptible to abdominal hernias. Can you believe all that is related to a weak core?
At The Tummy Team, we don’t just look at symptoms, but the causes behind them. We work individually with clients of all ages and stages of life to help them rebuild their core and regain the all-day strength necessary for life. If you cannot come see us personally, we have developed a very comprehensive online program. This program gives you access to weekly video instruction, downloadable exercises/stretches, weekly encouragement and access to a private forum to get support from other real Tummy Team clients. We also offer private Skype sessions with me, Kelly, to personally meet your needs. It may be online, but we want it to feel as personal as possible.
Don’t wait any longer. We have helped hundreds of clients work towards a stronger core for a stronger life.