Diastasis Recti occurs in 100% of pregnancies and persists in varying degrees postpartum and years into motherhood. Diastasis Recti is typically described as an “abdominal separation” but it is actually not a separation at all. When you’re pregnant, your abdominal wall changes to accommodate for a growing baby. The linea alba, the connective tissue between the two sides of the abdominal muscles stretches. (Connective tissue is like the white stuff you cut off when you cut up chicken breast and is the glue that keeps our muscles together).
Diastasis Recti persists when your core “strategy” is not optimal. We all come to motherhood with movement habits, strengths, and weaknesses. Our muscle strategy is informed by these things. Our muscle strategy is like the step by step instructions on Google Maps or Map Quest (remember that?!). Before we do something as simple as picking up a pen, our brain has a map of what muscles to use to get the job done. When your strategy uses primarily the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscle) and the obliques, Diastasis Recti persists into motherhood.
Diastasis Recti can affect digestion in several ways, but two that we hear the most complaints about are constipation and bloating. Let’s break down why:
- The transverse abdominis (our deepest abdominal muscle) is not working as well as it should. This muscle is our corset muscle- It runs right over top of our organs, and part of its job is to maintain abdominal tension. When it’s not working well, this can cause bloating.
- Constipation can also cause bloating. When there is excess stool in the system (and FYI, you can still be constipated if you poop every day. More on that later) there is excess gas in the system.
- When your external obliques and rectus abdominis are working hard, they can become taut and restricted. These muscles can make it harder for stool to move through the intestines.
If you have Diastasis Recti and digestive issues, some of the best ways to help are:
- Taking deep breaths and chewing your food thoroughly when eating. This will help prep your digestive system to properly digest food. Also, as hard as it is, try not to eat while distracted- watching TV, scrolling social media, READING THIS BLOG :), wrangling a toddler, etc.
- Start training your transverse abdominis and pelvic floor. These muscles should simultaneously contract before you move. Start by lying on your back and place your hands on the inside of your hip bones (the pointy parts on either side of your stomach, below your belly button). Try tightening your pelvic floor by trying one of the following: “think of picking up a tissue with your vagina” “imagine bringing your two hip bones together” “squeeze a ruby/blueberry/bead with your vagina.” What you should feel is a tightening beneath your fingers. This means the muscles are co-contracting! If you don’t feel this, you might need some guidance. This often takes us several sessions to solidify with a client. It’s not easy. If you don’t get it now, you will. This is a great place to check in with when you’re working out. These spots should feel tight AND you should be able to breathe as you do any core work or any body workouts. Check out our instagram to see a video of how to do this.
- Try trigger pointing for the rectus abdominis. There are typically 4 tender spots in the rectus abdominis and pressing on them can help to get things moving. Check out our instagram for a video how-to.
If you’re ready to start to heal your mind, body, and spirit, and ditch Diastasis Recti and digestive problems like constipation and bloating, book a free consult with us in our Wexford, PA office, Greensburg PA office, or virtually from anywhere in the world!