Week 3 Wrap Up: Diastasis Recti Rehab

Today marks the completion of 3 weeks of Diastasis Recti Rehab following the Tupler Technique. I met with Dawn yesterday for my 3 week check-in so we could discuss the past 3 weeks, take measurements, progress photos, and talk about the new exercises I will pursue for weeks 4 – 18.

Wow, so, I was totally not expecting this, but I have some noticeable results to share. Before I started the program my measurements were as follows:

Body Circumference under chest: 29 inches, at waist: 30 inches, at belly button: 32 inches

Here’s where I’m netting out after 3 weeks of religiously following this program:

Body Circumference under chest: 29 inches, at waist: 29 inches, at belly button 29.25 inches!

Additionally, and most importantly, Dawn checked the strength of my Linea Alba (connective tissue that runs down the center of your abdomen that holds your muscles together) and she said there was a palpable difference in its strength and elasticity.

While the exercises increased in difficulty during the past 3 weeks, I actually found the most challenging part to be consciously holding my transverse abdominals inwards throughout my daily activities. You literally have to train your mind to think about holding in your abdominals before do anything – even coughing, which is really hard to do.

I’m interested to see how the next couple of weeks go. We add to the exercises tomorrow (week 4) by adding some head lifts while lying on the floor. This is where things start to become a little less convenient. I’ve been able to do weeks 1-3 while driving in my car on the way to work, and at my desk without a soul knowing. I probably can’t get down on the floor at work to do head lifts, so, I need to think about a strategy here!

I’m still so curious to see if these measurements/progress/etc. still hold true after the program is over. I’ve read some blogs by other people who have tried this who say their abs/stomach kind of morphs back into what it was a few days after no longer wearing the splint. I’m still also wondering what the long-term situation will be. It sounds like a lot of modification down the road as one instance of, for example, playing tennis and twisting you body too much could possibly cause the separation to happen again??

Here are some images of the end of week 3! I really, really wish I never got my belly button pierced (my mom is definitely shaking her head somewhere).

Damn you Diastasis. And Victoria’s Secret.

I hit a bit of a low yesterday. I feel it necessary to share the highs and the lows because post-maternal fitness is not always pounds shed and skinny jeans fitting again and flowers and rainbows. Sometimes it is about actually crying in front of your 6 month old and speaking to her like an adult and warning her about pregnancy and childbirth as she stares at you and breaks out into cute little 6 month old giggles. Ahem, not that I did that yesterday or anything.

What prompted this downward spiral of negativity, you ask? I had a conversation yesterday with an old friend, who has studied physical rehabilitation, anatomy, and physiology intensely to become an athletic trainer. She told me she actually wrote her senior thesis on Diastasis Recti and she swears it is impossible to heal your connective tissue (the linea alba is the connective tissue that pulls your abdominal muscles together and keeps them from separating) once it has been weakened or stretched, therefore the only way to truly “fix” your Diastasis Recti and not live an altered life is via surgery.

Here are some of the thoughts that immediately entered my head as I mourned the loss of my mid-section and its contents:

“Are you f—— kidding me? As if pregnancy and childbirth aren’t hard enough we have to live with the aftermath for the rest of time?”

“Why did this happen to me? Why couldn’t this have happened to someone who doesn’t like to exercise or use their body?”

“Men are so the weaker sex. It’s unbelievable how they get to just coast through life being men. I can’t believe I’m raising a tiny man. How do women seriously not rule the universe already? ”

“F— you ab rollers, ab transformers, ab everything. And to hell with all of your models, especially the ladies, in your commercials”

Also, “lucky me, I’m so glad a Victoria’s Secret catalog arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Are you trying to emotionally stab me, Victoria??”

“How does the medical industry actually consider this surgery cosmetic (a.k.a. not covered by insurance) instead of medically necessary when it causes lower back and hip issues, weakened pelvic floor, urinary incontinence, and possible trauma to your abdomen?? Do you know my friend’s aunt, whose kids are in their twenties, went to the bathroom the other day and her bladder practically fell out?? How was fixing her situation not considered medically necessary??”

I told you it wasn’t pretty. Or PC. It was a low, people. I’m a human.

I reached out to Dawn immediately. She told me to keep it moving. She said that it’s not easy, and it takes a LONG time, but, it is possible to heal your connective tissue. She said you will still have to work at it for the rest of your life and keep up with your transverse abdominal exercises every day, but it is possible, without surgery.

So, here goes Day 10. Keep it moving. Trying not to think about what the next steps are or could be until I see this program through to the end.

Post-Pregnancy Project: Diastasis Recti Rehab Day 7 Results

Yesterday marked the end of week 1 of my Diastasis Recti Rehab using the Tupler Technique. While I didn’t expect the results of week 1 to be dramatic, I do have a few items worth mentioning. I’ve also included images of Day 1 of rehab and Day 7 – it might be wishful thinking but I think I do feel and see a difference! Here’s what I found out:

  • THE REAL CORE: Wow, I had no idea how weak my core was! Here I am thinking I have a pretty strong core because I can do planks and complete all of the bootcamp abdominal exercises, etc. etc. When push comes to shove, it was all for show! The exercises I had to complete in week 1 were pretty challenging for me, especially the 100’s. I’ve never thought about the innermost core of your body, what people actually mean when they say “your core” and how challenging it is to exercise those muscles. While the exercises are still tough, especially as you kick it up a notch in week 2, I can definitely feel myself getting stronger.
  • THE SPLINT AND I ARE LIKE PEAS AND CARROTS: I’ve gotten used to wearing the splint. I don’t feel like a pig in a blanket as much anymore. In fact I kind of like wearing it because it serves as a constant reminder to engage my transverse abdominals throughout the day. It’s also kind of like my own pair of rehab Spanx keeping everything smooth and tight under my clothes – it’s the little things. I was even able to go running with it on – although the Tupler Technique recommends you do not engage in any exercise during the first 6 weeks of the program, I think I would lose my sanity, and my family would kick me out of the tribe for being a major B—- if I did not exercise for 6 weeks. It may set me back a bit (hopefully not) but you have to do what works for your life. I went slow enough that I wasn’t completely breathless and could keep my transverse engaged throughout.
  • CABBAGE PATCH KID OUTIE, BE GONE: While I still am a member of the “outie” belly button family, I do think it has receded a bit! Looking forward to the prospect of not seeing my belly button anymore in the coming weeks.

Here are some images of my journey so far. Side note, Mom, if you’re reading this, I wish I had never gotten my belly button pierced. You were right.

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Diastasis Recti: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Did you know that Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates, had a Diastasis Recti? Also, Elle “The Body” MacPherson also had this abdominal separation and worked to prevent it during her pregnancy and correct it post-pregnancy.

A Diastasis Recti is more than just a poochy belly post baby, and the appearance of being pregnant long after you have given birth. While the “mummy tummy” is a motivating factor for a lot of women, including myself, to correct the abdominal separation, there are a lot of risks that can occur down the road if your Diastasis goes undiagnosed and uncorrected. Some of these side effects include lower back problems, urinary incontinence, and potential trauma to the abdomen since the connective tissue has been weakened. 3 out of 10 mothers have a Diastasis Recti to some degree and don’t even know it!

Here is a video on how to check if you have a Diastasis Recti by Julie Tupler, founder of the Tupler Technique (fast forward to 7 minutes, 15 seconds)

 

 

 

Post-Natal Fitness: Not Just Baby Weight

The end of day one. This post is coming to you as I sit in my new “sitting position”, splint stretched tightly around my midsection (my new uniform for the next 6 weeks that only comes off to shower), with a pillow behind my back while focusing on belly breathing instead of what ever kind of breathing I was doing before – albeit the incorrect kind. I met with Dawn today and she showed me the correct way to wear the splint and we practiced a few rounds of the exercises that I will do 3 times a day, every day, for the next 6 months (or more depending on the healing process).

I’m not going to lie. I can see why some women would throw in the towel on this process after a few days or weeks. It’s not easy. Today I’ve found the hardest part to be altering how I pick up my daughter, put down my daughter, open the oven, close the oven, get in the car, sit on the couch, basically how to go through the day while not bending at the waist and remembering to pull in my core before doing any of these activities. Dawn assured me this will start to come naturally – I hope she’s right!

Dawn took my measurements and “before” pictures today. I am meeting with her again in two weeks to track my progress. I feel excited and hopeful after our meeting today. Dawn mentioned that the best case scenario is that I emerge as my pre-pregnancy self, or maybe even better because I will be super focused on my core (really, deep down, inner core) which is something I’ve apparently never done before – and didn’t even know it! Did you know that planks, crunches, and traditional boot camp style core exercises don’t actually get all the way down into your transverse abdominals – which is your real core? Nope. I didn’t either! Those exercises work on the layer of muscles on top of it, and your obliques.

Here’s a video featuring Julie Tupler, founder of the Tupler Technique on how to correctly put the splint on. I will probably watch this a few times before I give it a go on my own tomorrow morning.

Day1

That’s me day 1 wearing the splint. Don’t mind my bulge and still present linea negra – pregnancy is a tough business and I’ve still got some healing to do!!

Mind the Gap: Your Post-Pregnancy Pooch Explained

 

It’s a rainy day in January and as I moved through my workout at the gym I glanced up at the television and found myself annoyed, fuming, jealous, and angry at some infomercial for an ab roller or ab coaster or whatever the contraption was called that was being demonstrated by women with 6 packs and 1% body fat that was claiming to “give you the abs” you’ve always wanted. I scoffed and thought, “Ugh. Obviously these women have never had babies or have even heard the words Diastastis Recti in their life”.

I’ve always considered myself a pretty fit person and remained active during and after both of my pregnancies. After my first pregnancy I was able to get back into great shape about 5-6 months postpartum. I noticed my belly button, formerly a deep “innie”, was a little bit flatter but I chalked that up to being a small price to pay for my beautiful son (this becomes important later on in the post). My husband and I have recently welcomed our daughter into the world about 6 months ago and while most of the body fat and pounds have been shed, my belly button still remains an “outie” and my abs still look as though I am 3 months pregnant!

At my 6 weeks postpartum appointment, I asked my OBGyn why my belly button was sticking out and she said to give it time but that I was cleared to begin building my core strength back again. She said to do planks in lieu of crunches (I thought to myself “duh lady, I know what I’m doing here”) but that I was good to go. Commence my journey back to running, boot camping, planking, weightlifting, you name it. At 3 months postpartum, I made an appointment with a different OBGyn in the same practice specifically about my belly button still sticking out and an article I had stumbled upon through my Google searches about a condition known as “Diastasic Recti” which is essentially when your abdominal muscles pull apart from one another causing that hard to fix “mummy tummy”, poochy belly, and the look and feel as though you are still 3 months pregnant despite losing all of your pregnancy weight. She said my the gap between my transverse abdominal muscles was minor and that I should just give it more time and continue to strengthen my core. She also mentioned that surgery is an option, but, more than likely a general surgeon would not accept my surgery since I am not experiencing any other complications (back pain, urinary incontinence, etc.) and it would more than likely end up as cosmetic surgery that I would have to pay out of pocket for – really not an option for me financially nor something that I want to pursue.

I am now 6 months postpartum and, fed up with my poochy belly and outie belly button, I came across a practice called the “Tupler Technique” during my internet searches which claims to correct Diastasis Recti and umbilical hernias by wearing a splint, being diligent about a special set of exercises to be performed daily, and becoming more aware of how you use your core throughout the day. I found a licensed Tupler Technique trainer who is also a personal trainer close to my home. I visited her last week for an initial consultation. She confirmed that I have an 8 finger width (gasp!!!) separation underneath my abdominal wall which is also causing the outie belly button. She mentioned that it sounds as though I may have had a smaller diastasis after my first child that went undiagnosed (hence flat belly button). She said that doing planks and other core busting abdominal exercises are pretty much the worst thing you can do when you have a diastasis because they can push the muscles outwards if you have this condition (double gasp!!!). I felt angry. Duped. Misguided. Misled. Misinformed. And I had some choice words for my OBGyn. The Tupler Technique professional, Dawn, assured me this wasn’t my “fault” and that 30% of women actually have a diastasis post pregnancy and don’t even realize it. She explained that pregnancy and labor are the hardest things you can put your body through (repeatedly) and this is the result sometimes. She also explained having a diastasis can result in lower back issues down the road, urinary incontinence, and possible trauma to the abdomen.

I pretty much stewed about this whole chain of events the entire weekend, but, I have made my peace and am ready to move on and fix this. I am thankful because I have made it through both pregnancies and labors relatively unscathed and have my two beautiful babies as a result. I have chosen to blog about my journey with Diastasis Recti and the Tupler Technique because I feel like the word needs to be spread!! Women need to know about this (don’t leave it up to your OBGyn’s to diagnosis this) and they also need to know that apparently if you do the Tupler Technique exercises during pregnancy you can actually prevent Diastasis Recti from occurring post pregnancy. Also, if this works, please don’t consider the expense, risk, and recuperation of surgery unless you really have to! It’s approximately T-24 hours until I head to Dawn’s house for our first session together. I will get my splint and she will coach me through the exercises I need to perform for the next 6+ weeks (she mentioned that her 9 finger width diastasis took 6 months to resolve – and she still works on it every day for maintenance). Wish me luck!!!

Check out this link to the Tupler Technique: www.diastasisrehab.com