I recently read an article about Diastasis Recti, or the separation of the abdominal muscles due to weakened core, pregnancy or hormonal changes. I had heard of this condition before; basically, the sheet of abdominal muscles separates. It’s not life threatening (at least, nothing I read said that it was), but you are supposed to use caution when doing crunches and sit-ups in the off chance that your cause further separatation of the mucles.
From what I remember from anatompy and phys., of the multiple sets of abdnominal muscles you have, your rectus abdominis is the sheet of muscles that is where you get your six pack. The muslces are connected by a tendon that runs down the middle. The tendon has no elasticity in it, which means if you put on a lot of weight (as in the case with a pregnancy), the muscles separate, the tendon gets stretched. After you lose the weight, the muscles, which have elasticity, retract, but the tendon is still in the same stretched out shape it was in when you put the weight on, thereby causing the gap between the muscles. Here’s a pictorial representaiton.
So, why am I talking about this, you ask? Well, I’m at the gym pretty much five days a week, just working on my fitness. I’m trying to maintain the level of health that I currently enjoy as well as keep my pants buttoned without too much discomfort. Truth be told, I enjoy working out. I like putting in work, sweating, feeling my muscles engage and all of that. Since my injury, I’m limited to the eliptical, the Nordic track, and sometimes the stair climber. I throw in some weights and I recently started swimming twice a week to mix things up. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back on the treadmill or actually pound pavement outside. I’m a little skittish about how well I can get my legs pumping in rhythm such that I won’t fall flat on my face. After I do my time on the machines, I do the weights, some squats and recently, some ab work.
I’m in my 30s. I’m pretty sure that unless I go gluten-free, sugar-free, white flour free, and taste free, the weight I’m carrying now is mine to keep. I can feel my abs (serrator anterior, specifically), underneath the layers, but because I’m not going to wear a corset day and night for three months straight á la Jessica Alba, I’m just going to have to content myself with knowing that they’re there. So, I figured I’d get them as firmed up as possible. I found a series of ab exceries during my recent combing of the Internet, which lead me to find this article about the diastasis recti.
After I had had Mo, I participated in a Mommy-and-Me type exercise program several days a week. We pushed the stollers around the mall, did resistance band type exercises and ended with ab work. The instructor often spoke of diastasis recti, encouraging those of us who had it to modify the ab work until our cores were stronger. She even taught us how to diagnosis whether or not we had it. Then, as with now, I’m no doctor, so I never really thought I was checking properly and just kept on working on my reverse crunches and bicycles. Then I read this article which talked about how to check if you’ve got it.
“To check yourself for diastasis, lie on your back with your knees bent. With your fingers pointing down toward your feet, hold two fingers flat on your bellybutton. Press your fingers down as you slowly lift your head (keep your shoulders on the ground). Do you feel a gully between the two muscles? Measure how many fingers wide it is (mine is about 2.5 fingers wide). If you can fit two or more fingers inside, you should not do crunches or sit ups. If this is you, I would recommend halting all traditional abdominal exercises and doing the workout on this page until your separation heals.” — taken from Dear Diastasis Recti, I’m so over you by insperedrd on June 19, 2012
The earliest chance I got, I’m on the floor with my knees bent, fingers in my belly button. I’m kind of thinking whatever’s about to happen is going to make me less than pleased, but I soldier on. I start to slowly lift my head and let me tell you, my abs parted like the Red Sea and my fingers were Noah. Sweet fancy Moses! I’m pretty sure I could have pulled Jimmy Hoffa, Ameila Earheart, and the Holy Grail out of the gap between the muscles.
*le sigh* Ultimately, the gap is what contributes to the nefarious “mommy pooch”, and apparently it can be overcome by strengthening the core. So, what’s a girl to do? No crunches, apparently. The website provided a list of alternative exercises to do to strengthen the muscles, but I honestly don’t believe a gap like mine or the ones described can just be “healed” (their word, not mine). I picture one of those holy roller type of churches where the pastor with the big Chicklet teeth smacks you on the forehead and says, “Be Healed!” right before you collapse into the waiting arms of church elder as other congregants dance in the aisles and sing songs of praise.
Yes, I’m a cynic.
I’m also kind of tired, which is why I started in one direction and now find myself over here.
You know how there are times in your life when you see something or hear sometihng or experience something that is so off=putting or weird that you keep re-visiting it? Or that you want to share it with someone else so that they’ll be as put off as you? Like, my brother used to pull off his sweaty gym socks after football practice, take a big whiff of the sock (I have no idea why) and say, “Oh my God, this smells so bad. C’mere and smell this!”
And yes, you know I smelled it because I was young and thought my brother spat nickles and farted rainbows.
Well, the gully in my gut is just like that. I’m disgusted and intrigued and totally want everyone to stick their fingers in my belly button so I can sit up and be like, “See, what I’m talking about? I get nauseous every time I do it!”
It is what it is, which is part of the fabric of who I am. Once I stop messing with it — because I check it like every five minutes to marvel at how my body has changed yet again — it’ll be no big deal. I’ll probably look into incorporating some of the non-crunch core moves into my routine at some point. Or maybe I’ll look for a corset afterall. . .