We all dream of the 6 pack, the beautiful “pack of abs.” Unfortunately it is not always just as straightforward as doing a bunch of crunches. It really is a combination of many things that allows for this to develop, but some people struggle in gaining additional core strength or they report that they have a “pooch.” What could be causing this?
Diastasis recti occurs due to the separation of the rectus abdominis muscle and is commonly reported in the postpartum mama, but can be seen throughout the general population and for a variety of reasons (and no, don’t blame the beer you had last night).
There are a variety of things that can be done to address this and there are also things that can potentially worsen the diastasis. Let’s tackle the caution list first. The exercises listed below are activities that could potentially worsen a diastasis as these are front loading exercises:
This doesn't mean you can’t do these exercises ever again, rather that you will first want to establish some stability in the core. But it’s not quite as simple as just fixing a weak muscle (although that’s a big part of it). It is also about addressing things that can be contributing to this ongoing weakness. Are you utilizing an efficient breathing pattern? Do you have any soft tissue restrictions? Are you dominant in your internal or external obliques? How is your pelvic floor? These are all areas that a physical therapist, more specifically a pelvic floor physical therapist, can assess and address. A good first step is making sure that you can activate the transverse abdominis (see picture). This is often an under worked muscle but is a huge stabilizer and is intimately connected with the diaphragm (breathing) as well as the low back and pelvic floor.
It is often difficult to isolate this muscle and to help assist, please click on the link to our youtube channel. If you are still struggling with isolating the muscle, have ongoing low back pain, pelvic pain or just are frustrated with that “belly pooch” then please do not hesitate to reach out to Ashley at Smith Physical Therapy for some direction.