Living with DR (Diastasis Recti)

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I can’t show you anything…on my belly, belly, belly splint…

The other day, I saw a photo of myself that someone else had snapped during one of my fitness classes. I barely recognized myself. The woman I saw in the photo looked like she was about 3 months pregnant! Say WHAT?! Let me be clear…I am NOT pregnant. No way. I am very much enjoying calling my body my own right at the moment. And, I definitely don’t feel pregnant – I really don’t want to look it.

The thing that bothered me the most wasn’t a weight issue. I would very much like to lose about 12 more pounds to get back to my pre-baby #1 weight. What bothered me the most about the woman in the photo was the “mummy tummy”. You know, that “baby bump,” but without the baby. I will admit, part of the problem is my posture. I still have that swayback, accommodating for my front-heavy-baby-belly stance. And, part of the correction for that is awareness, as well as strengthening/stretching muscles in my back and hips.

But really, my problem lies in a condition called Diastasis Recti. Diastasis Recti (DR) is a separation of the rectus abdominus muscle. Think your 6-pack becomes two 3-packs. This commonly occurs in pregnant women (either during pregnancy or postpartum) because of the stretching of the rectus abdominus due to the growing uterus. As part of my “job description” as a certified pre-/post-natal fitness instructor, I am trained to recognize DR in women. After seeing the photo, I was able to test myself and “diagnose” that I still have DR. I knew I had DR after the birth of my daughter, most likely due to the fact that I’d not yet built the strength back up in my abs after the birth of my first baby. (Turns out, there’s a reason doctors recommend you wait 18 months between pregnancies!) I thought I had it under control. The “curl-up test” revealed otherwise.

So, what’s a fit mama to do to correct this issue? Well, that’s why I’m writing about it here. I need some accountability. I don’t usually do this, but I’m going to step out of my comfort zone with the hope that I’ll stick to my plan by posting weekly updates of my progress.

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Dear DR, Get lost!

Above is a picture of where I am today. The photo on the left is me in my “natural and relaxed state.” (LOL) The photo on the right is me, core engaged (not “sucking it in,” just contracted). It’s not terrible. But, it’s not great either. I’ve got to retrain those ab muscles to keep everything pulled in, whether relaxed or contracted.

While I know I need to kick my overall fitness and eating plan into higher gear, the key to correcting the DR is going to be the retraining of my ab muscles. This is going to require a lot of special exercises and modifications to get these muscles to do what they’re supposed to be doing. Here are some of the exercises and modifications I’ll be doing over the coming weeks:

  • NO crunches or sit-ups
  • Wall sits
  • Heel drops
  • Heel slides
  • Side planks
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Hip bridges
  • Body weight squats
  • Hip flexor stretches

I’ve also pulled my belly splint out and will wear that 6-8 hours a day to help remind my abs to do their thing.

I’ll continue to check in with progress reports and changes to my exercise plan to heal the DR. Wish me luck!

 

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