10 Diastasis ‘Big Rocks’ and Why There’s No One-Size-Fit’s All Solution – Part 2 of 2

diastasis-fingers

I recently watched an online discussion where a professional in the field of Women's Wellness posted a question on 'belly binding' and post birth recovery from Rectus Diastasis and by the time, I stopped watching the feed....76 posts later!!!! guess what? Not ONE definitive answer regarding the SOLUTION but of course lots of great suggestions and theories regarding best practice for the KEY elements of the entire puzzle but as I said, NO MAGIC BULLET!  In a time of mass on and off-line magic bullets such as the much famed '6 pack in 6 weeks' programme and celebrities flaunting airbrushed Post Natal bodies before their stitches have even healed, it's pretty hard to convince the average 16 week Post Natal woman that the Pelvic Floor and Disastsis issues that she's experience might just take a little time and actual effort on her part to resolve.

It's usually when our bodies 'fail us' that we are presented with a fork in the road, we either see this as a time to get mindful and serious about our health or feel let down and oppressed by an imaginary foe.  Ironically, illness, poor health, diminished abilities and a body that won't play ball can be portal to a life of deeper respect for the brilliance of the human body and how it has supported us for many years without attention on our part OR it can be the beginning of a war on self....I am thankful that my work (and that of many amazing colleagues around me)  is firmly in the previous camp and hopefully on a daily basis we empower women through education and speaking truth to navigate this sometimes challenging life phase. This blog is about my thoughts on the 'Big Rocks' of Diastasis and Post Natal healing and this Part 2, Find Part 1 of this blog here………..

crossroads

 

6.  Fascia and the Myofascial System (local and global) - this part of the puzzle is both deep and wide but really gets down to the nitty gritty and helps questions get answered.  There are multiple layers and invaginations of fascia (which is mostly collagen and water) that create and maintain the integrity and function of the abdominal wall.  The abdominal aponeuroses that are the continuation the the internal/external obliques and the the Transversus muscle towards the midline are tendinous and so mainly made also of collagen and so is the Linea Alba (the midpoint of the abdominal wall which typically experiences the most pronounced expansion during Pregnancy) and we haven't even gotten to the mass of fascia, ligaments and muscles of the Pelvic Floor.  So if a reductionist principle is applied, finding out how collagen is created and rebuilt post trauma on a biochemical and biomechanical level is pretty important.  Secondly on a more global level, whether you subscribe to the theory or not, just one look at the Myofascial Line principles as defined by Thomas Myers as related to even just the abdominal wall will set a few lightbulbs off and swiftly guide you to the notion that Diastasis is in fact an issue of system integration rather than an isolated issue. Following Myers' principles indeed, the Rectus Femoris in a locked short position could be holding the clients' pelvis in an anterior tilt and maintaining her Lower and Upper Crossed Syndrome.  This would most certainly lead a lack of biotensegrity at the abdominal wall and the possible increase of visceral pressure on the Diastasis.....not good!  So a great solution is to assess for a shortened Rectus, if found, free it and see the difference it makes to the clients' postural alignment.  In my experience a freed up Rec Fem has worked as a key to unlocking unhelpful Post Natal posture on MANY occasions.

Thomas Myers' Myofascial Superficial Front Line
Thomas Myers' Myofascial Superficial Front Line

 

Thomas Myers' Deep Myofascial Front Line
Thomas Myers' Deep Myofascial Front Line

7.  Bodywork, Massage/Remedial Therapy/Soft Tissue Work to aid Re-Alignment - Most Fitness-based 'Diastasis Healing' programmes are concerned mostly with  WHAT EXERCISE TO DO.....but I posit the notion (as above) that this Diastasis is part of a globally integrated system and dysfunction at the front of the abdominal wall can only be remedied by normalizing the tension within the system as a whole.  Below is a bodymap of my tpical Posture/Pain/Alignment Hotspots, that I created after 15 years of working with the Pregnant and Post Natal client in pain and discomfort.  Obviously , every woman is an individual but in general, if you palpated in the areas below or performed a movement screen on a Post Natal client that required her to to demonstrate true freedom in  the areas below....you would most likely find restrictions and discomfort lingering from Pregnancy and exaccerbated by her new activities of daily life.  They key here again, is to assess and then free the client before loading with exercise.  If you're in the UK later this month and want to go deeper with your bodywork, you might like this course.....Female 4R - Functional Fascial Fitness For Females....releasing bodywork that everyone wellness professional can master.....

Female-Posture-Pain-Hotspots

8.  Habits/Lifestyle/Current Exercise Habits - a great example of why we need to 'look around corners' of our clients' lives when performing our consultations.......I once consulted with a potential client who told me she was attending the gym 5 times a week and to no avail her Diastasis would not close.....so I asked to see her programme and of course found a shed load of planking, prone suspension training, heavy lifting....the list went on.  On analysis of her nutrition, I also found hardly any water and protein intake!!! along with the fact that she, as well as carrying her 1 year old also had a very heavy toddler who refused to walk so had to be carried  long distances sometimes.  All 3 issues are non-optimal for healing her Diastasis, so our role as coaches is to find attractive and do-able alternatives to the ' away from health' strategies currently in place and improve clients 'buy in' to new 'moving towards health' strategies that are realistic and doable and then monitor compliance until the new habit sticks.

9.  Mummy Tummy Myth and Madness - although I'm a fan of the internet, I'm not a fan of the imagery that enslaves women with the thought that a grown woman post birth should look like a 19 year old female gym junkie with no sign whatsoever that she has given birth on her body and of course be 'good to go' and 'skinny jeans' ready by her 6-8 week check up.  The internet is swamped with people who've managed to whip themselves into shape (visually) in record time, prepared to tell all about how they beat the odds and dodged 'mom fat'.  I don't think I need to go much further here apart from to say that every click and view is an encouragement to the purveyors of these untruths and ultimately, we need to march with our mouses and back away from the madness.  Women wearing skinny jeans can too be hugely dysfunctional in terms of their pelvic health and ability to transfer load...don't let a lack of fat fool you, she may well be peeing her pants when she sneezes as well as rocking those jeans.

10. Managing Expectations aka Reality Check!

  • It's a myth that for functionality both bellies of the Rectus Abdominis need to have zero inter-recti distance.
  • It's also a myth that the bellies of the Rectus in all women are always totally proximal before Pregnancy/child-birth.
  • It's TOTALLY a myth that if your belly does not look like it did after babies compared to before babies that your life is over and you'll be miserable forever!
  • Many studies have shown that even women who have never had babies (nulliparous) have an inter-recti distance and many women with non-proximal RA are very functional.....the key is the both local and global capacity to withstand pressure and facilitate load transfer.
  • & Finally, there'a wealth of research to support that Diastasis, in many cases DOES HEAL OF ITS OWN ACCORD when good nutrition, rest and appropriate/exercise is liberally applied....Mother Nature's 'got this' and for the most part, women need good information, a solid renourishment plan, to exercise patience and not hit the crunches, bootcamp, generic exercises classes, planks and pikes as soon as given the all clear to 'exercise' again.

11.  Sorry, I know I said 10....Knowing your limits....for many as fitness professionals, issues beyond the scope of our practise including ...neurological conditions, pelvic pain, Pelvic Organ Prolapse and abdominal wall connective tissues and muscles that simply have lost the capacity for form closure and simply cannot and will not again transfer load or do their job optimally again are for sure referral situations.  For many women experiencing these scenarios, the conservative methods listed above will be  helpful but ultimately, their situation will not be remedied or made significantly better without surgical/clinical intervention.

If you enjoyed this blog, you'll probably really enjoy the new offering from Burrell Education......

 Advanced Post Natal Wellness Practitioner – ON-LINE/GLOBAL CERTIFICATION

Find Part 1 of this blog here...........

 

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