Ever since having Harper, I have struggled to get my abdominal strength back. I knew there was something I was missing so when my husband came across this book I was excited to read it. If you have been diagnosed with a Diastasis Recti or know someone that has this book is definitely for you. You can find it on Amazon, titled Diastasis Recti by Katy Bowman. The book explains what it is and gives you stretches and exercises starting from beginner and going all the way to expert. Below is a short summary of what you will find. I hope you get as much out of it as I did!
What is it?
It is the unnatural distance (meaning abnormal to you) of the right and/or left halves of the rectus abdominus (abs) from the midline. Usually caused by the stretching of the linea alba, which is a ligament that holds all the muscles in place in the abdomen and it runs from the rib cage all the way down to your pelvis. To be clear a DR is not simply just a separating of muscle, but a whole body issue that lead to the symptom of your abdomen separating.
What can cause it?
Most commonly a DR is a result of pregnancy. Not all women get it, and there are varying degrees of separation. It can also be a result of muscular imbalances, weak muscles, tight muscles or poor body posture as a whole. Another reason for DR’s to occur is an increase in intra-abdominal fat.
What can you do to correct a Diastastis Recti?
One of the main things Katy repeats in the book is that it is a whole body issue. You need to treat it that way and really go back to the basics of simple stretches before getting into the more complex exercises to strengthen, which was what I was doing wrong. I was trying to get into the exercises right off the bat, not realizing my posture was incorrect during the moves which was leading to more issues and not helping correct the problem.
Secondly, not only do you have to stretch and do exercises, but you have to eat healthy as well. Nutrition is the building blocks of health. We can exercise until we are blue in the face, but if we eat like crap or do not take care of our bodies, the exercises and stretches are worthless.
Lastly, our society has become extremely sedentary. We need to get up more and move. If we have to sit, we need to learn how to sit better. We constantly hear all day long that I don’t sit much, but if you really think about it you probably are more sedentary than not. For example, we sit when we commute to and from work, when we watch TV or read a book, when we are eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, using the internet, going to the bathroom, and when we are sleeping just to name a few!
Here are three stretches that Katy suggests to start with:
- Floor Angels – AKA snow angel, you want to keep your palms up with your elbows slightly bent. Do not go any higher than what you can do with your ribs down on the ground! Do this exercise 10 times moving slowly and making sure your ribs are in contact with the ground at all times!
- Windmill Stretch – Starting on your back, bring your knee up toward your chest and then roll your entire body to the left, until your knee rests on the ground. Without hyperextending the elbow, reach your right hand, arm, and shoulder blade up toward the ceiling and away from the spine. Slowly drop your arm as far as you can without thrusting your ribcage. (move your arm between 12-6) Do this 10-15 times and then repeat on the other side.
- Doorway walkthrough – if you can reach the top of the door way, hold both arms up above you for 20-60 seconds. If you can’t reach do a single-armed version of this exercise, doing one arm at a time on the right and left side of a doorway. (Make sure your elbows are pointing straight ahead)
With the first two stretches, you need to make sure your ribs are in contact with the floor at all times. You do not want any gap in between the ribs and the floor. What she recommends is to prop your head up with bolsters(rolled up towels) until you ribs are in contact with the floor and as you do the exercises you will notice that you need less and less of a bolster.
Again, I can’t state how great this book was. I have been doing these stretches for a week and I already notice a difference. Check it out for even more details and exercises to help correct your Diastasis Recti. If you have any questions or are wondering if you are doing any stretches or exercises correctly, come into the office and I will be happy to help!