Are Your Abdominals Broken? (aka Do you Have Diastasis Recti??)
This simple self-test will help you determine if you, or your client, has diastasis recti.
· Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
· Place one hand behind your head, and the other hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips across your midline-parallel with your waistline- at the level of your belly button.
· With your abdominal wall relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
· Roll your upper body off the floor into a "crunch," making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis.
· Move your fingertips back and forth across your midline, feeling for the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis muscle. Test for separation at, above, and below your belly button
Use Correct Form for an Accurate Assessment
Make sure that you don't simply pull your head off the mat-a common mistake. To effectively contract your abs, you need to move your ribcage closer to you pelvis. If you don't adequately activate your abdominal wall, you might assume that you have abdominal separation. But for most, as the rib cage moves closer to the pelvis and the contraction deepens, the width of the gap at your midline will decrease.
Don't panic if you feel a "hole" in your belly in the first few postpartum weeks. Everyone's connective tissue at the midline is lax after childbirth. As you recover, your midline will slowly regain its former density and elasticity, and the "hole" will become shallower, and if you do the right exercises, more narrow too.
Signs of Diastasis Recti/Abdominal Separation
A gap of more than 2 1/2 finger-widths when the rectus abdominis is fully contracted.
The gap does not shrink as you contract your abdominal wall.
You can see a small mound protruding along the length of you midline.
NOTE: If at any time you see a round, hard, or painful bulge protruding from your belly button area, or along your mid line, consult with your OBGYN.
Special Precautions for Women with Diastasis Recti/Abdominal Separation
Avoid all activities that place stress on the midline, that stretch or overly expand the abdominal wall through everyday activities, exercise, or breathing techniques.
Specific Types of Movement to Avoid – FLEXION & EXTENSION
· Movements where the upper body twists and the arm on that side extends away from the body, such as "triangle pose."
· Exercises that require lying backward over a large exercise ball.
· Yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as "cow pose," "up-dog," all backbends, and "belly breathing."
· Abdominal exercises that flex the upper spine off the floor or against the force of gravity such as: as crunches, oblique curls, "bicycles," roll ups/roll downs, etc.
· Pilates mat and reformer exercises that utilize the "head float" position, upper body flexion, or double leg extension.
· Any exercise that causes your abdominal wall to bulge out upon exertion.
· Lifting and carrying very heavy objects.
· Quadruped exercises without adequate abdominal support.
· Intense coughing without abdominal support.
Where to start if you have diastasis recti?
Read my previous post about How to do an Abdominal Scoop (click here) and watch the video. Practice this religiously! Do not progress to any of the contrindicated movements until you can correctly perform the abdominal scoop and perform knee lifts (watch the video on how to advance to knee lifts here)
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