Reposting my article posted today by A Child Grows:
Many moms are familiar with the term “diastasis recti.” Some know what it is. Many do not. Unfortunately, most women think that it is a condition that affects only new moms, and that if you are reading this next to your 5th grader, you can stop reading now because this post about diastasis has no relevance to you — a mom of a 10 year old.
And you would be wrong.
Diastasis is a condition that affects most women when they are pregnant. Women’s abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy, and after giving birth, there remains a significant gap between those muscles, often leaving you with a bulge on your belly. Some gaps come together on their own. Most, however, do not, and require significant work to heal and bring your abs back together. Having multiple children and being pregnant over age 35 makes this condition more likely. Left untreated, a diastasis can result in hernia, low back pain, and incontinence (because of the relationship between the abdominal wall and pelvic floor).
Contrary to popular opinion, you can have a diastasis years after giving birth and yes, you can still do the work to heal it. Doctors might tell you that the only way to heal the gap is surgery, but that is not true. If you learn the proper deep abdominal work, practice specific exercises regularly and avoid specific movements (crunches are the biggest no-no), you can make significant changes to your abdominals even years after your last pregnancy. There are physical therapists who specialize in this work and a good personal trainer with specific expertise in pre/postnatal training can also teach you the tools you need to heal your diastasis.
As a personal trainer who works exclusively with moms, I am flabbergasted by the number of moms I meet who have been working out for years trying to lose the “mommy tummy” and have no idea that they have a diastasis. Especially since most OBGYN’s and midwives do not as a matter of course talk about diastasis with their patients (if yours did, consider yourself lucky), many moms are crunching away in group fitness classes (where instructors also often do not know anything about the condition) wondering why their bellies continue to look like they just had a baby. Moms are also walking around thinking that peeing just a little bit when they laugh or having back pain is just part of being a mom and that there’s nothing they can do to change that.
So the great news is yes, you can change your belly, your pelvic floor muscles, your incontinence … even if you are sitting next to your 5th grader. It takes a lot of work but it is doable and so worth it.
Curious to learn more? Physical Therapist Gopi Pillai, PT, DPT (Brooklyn Health Physical Therapy) and I will be hosting a discussion on diastasis and pelvic floor health at the Park Slope Armory on Sunday, May 22 at 11:00 am. The talk is free of charge and open to non Armory members. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org