What It Is, How To Diagnose, Treatment Options
By Carrie Harper, ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Studies show that fifteen percent of all women have tearing in their rectus abdominus following pregnancy. It is my theory (and I am not alone) that it is not diagnosed, not discussed, and not questioned, so in actuality, the number may be closer to ninety percent. As a trainer, my postpartum clients always ask:
• Why do I still look pregnant?
• I have this layer of skin over my belly. How do I get rid of that?
• Why does it seem abdominals make this worse?
Beyond that, this problem can even happen to bodybuilders and people who gained or lost a lot of weight in a short period of time.
What Is Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis Recti is a split of the rectus abdominus, vertically, between the two halves of the muscle. The tearing can be, or, like mine, can be a complete split of the halves of the rectus abdominus. Because it is socially acceptable for women to have a bulge in their abdomen after childbirth, it goes almost always completely undiagnosed. Only an inquisitive person that does research on her own or asks the right trainer or doctor at the right time will get the Diastasis Recti diagnosis. And until recently, there have not been many real solutions.
There is a pioneer in postpartum health who has made it her mission to increase awareness of Diastasis Recti, and works with the health industry in diagnosis and physical therapy to lead to an improvement or cure for the problem. Julie Tupler has spent her professional life as a nurse, working with pregnant and postpartum women. Through frustration due to lack of attention to these women, Tupler made it her business to help these women.
At Spabebe in New York City, pregnant moms and new moms get the therapy they need to improve their condition. Not only that, but Tupler’s website, www.maternalfitness.com
, offers books, DVD’s, and splits for those of us outside of the City. She is also training personal trainers, ten at a time, to start the healing all over America. She is speaking at doctors’ conferences to demand a six week postpartum prescription for the Tupler technique.
In other words, all women can benefit from this. It does not matter when you had your babies or when the injury happened. What matters is that you can start therapy today. Pregnant women can start during pregnancy to lessen the effects afterward. We are hoping that some day soon, doctors will look for and diagnose diastasis recti, and that personal trainers will know to look for it and will know how to exercise for it.
How To Exercise With Diastasis Recti
Many people want to know how to exercise with diastasis recti. Here are some of my guidelines if you do have some tearing.
1. Do not practice typical abdominal exercises or Pilates
2. Do not perform lat pull downs, heavy shoulder presses, heavy seated row
3. Do not move straight from lying down to seated, or from seated to lying down. Always roll over on the side first.
4. Do not lift anything that will cause abdominal protrusion or strain.
5. Wear a splint
6. Become educated on the subject.
Click here to view an extensive discussion of this subject in the PEERtrainer Community.