What is abdominal separation / diastasis recti?

Abdominal separation is a common condition that occurs in pregnancy and postpartum, where the left and right halves of the rectus abdominis (six pack muscles) separate.  Diastasis means separation, and recti refers to the rectus abdominis muscles.

abdominal separation mutusystem

Abdominal separation is caused by overstretching of abdominal muscles, to allow to growth of the uterus and baby during pregnancy.  A small amount of widening of the gap happens in all pregnancies and is normal. Abdominal separation occurs in about 30% of all pregnancies.  The gap returns to less than 2 finger-widths spontaneously in most pregnancies, but for many, the tissue remains too wide, causing problems.  The abdominal muscles become weak, and therefore reduce the protection and stability of the whole body, not just the abdomen section.

How to test for abdominal separation / diastasis recti?

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor
  2. Place one hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips just above the belly button
  3. Lift your upper body a couple of inches off the floor, and gently press your fingertips on the abdomen
  4. Move your fingertips along the midline, above and below the belly button to check for separation
  5. A gap of two or more finger-widths is generally considered as abdominal separation

What exercises / movements should be avoided when abdominal separation is present?

Once abdominal separation is confirmed, you will need to focus on pulling the abdominal muscles closer together, and avoid any movements that pull the muscles apart on a daily basis.

Here’s a quick checklist of exercises / movements to avoid:

  • Flexion of the spine. Examples: crunches, sit-ups. Not only crunches and sit-ups make the separation worse, they are also bad for the back. So no more crunches or sit-ups ladies!
  • Crunching up to get out of bed or get up from the floor. Always roll over to your side, then use your arms to push yourself up to a sitting position.
  • Any movement that involves strong / resisted rotation or side flexion. Examples: side crunches, russian twists, ab ‘bicycles’, side-bends with dumbbells.
  • Plank.  The amount of pressure placed on your abdominals while holding a plank can be immense, it can easily make any gap in your abdominals worse.  As the separation heals, this exercise can be slowly introduced into your workouts.
  • Movements that stretch the abdominals. Example: back extensions. Not only these movements will feel uncomfortable, they are inappropriate for weakened abdominal muscles.

So you might be thinking ‘what can I do about my abdominal separation’? Luckily, there are specific exercises you can do to help your abdominal muscles recover, and I am here to help explain it to you. Find out more on our ‘Abdominal Separation Recovery Programmehere.

Achieve your goals in seven steps

Perhaps you have heard of setting SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Goal setting is the first step in achieving any goal. Have you ever wondered what comes after goal setting?  In this article, I share with you seven steps to achieving your goals.

1. Goal setting

Goals give you DIRECTION and PURPOSE. Think about WHAT is it that you want. Is it better health, fitness level, relationship? Then think about WHY you want to achieve it. What does achieving the goal mean to you? What value will it add to your life? Is it going to take you where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years?

Make sure your goal is SMART

Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Realistic – Timely

You can set goals to achieve anything in life, not just fitness and health.

2. Write it down

Did you know that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them?

Write down your SMART goal somewhere you can see every single day.

Tell someone you trust, someone who will encourage and support you on the journey.

3.  Have a plan

A goal without a plan is just a dream. You can wish and pray that your dream will come true. That this year, things will be different. I wish that for you too. However, without a plan, it is unlikely that your thoughts, actions and habits will change consistently. For example, you want to improve your cardiovascular fitness. The guideline for this is to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week.  To achieve this, you could brisk walk 30 minutes, 5 days a week; or run 25 minutes, 3 days a week. Make time to make it happen.

4. Solve problems

Anticipate obstacles along the way. I would like you to write down three potential obstacles that might prevent you from achieving your goal. Now, write down three solutions to each obstacle. The more creative you are in problem solving, the more likely you are able to overcome them. During this process, you develop a very important and valuable skill – resilience.

5. Build winning habits

Achievement is the result of taking little steps, in the right direction, day in and day out.  Winning habits can be developed through deliberate practice, whether it’s changing your mindset or taking actions. It takes time. It takes discipline. The good news is that habits will make the change more sustainable and consistent.

6. Celebrate victories

Take time to celebrate what you have achieved!

Reward yourself for your hard work, discipline and commitment.

7. Review and reflect

Think about what you have accomplished, how far you have come. Now that you have overcome various obstacles and achieved your goal, how do you feel? What is the next step? Is it time to move on to setting another goal, or would you like to keep practising what you learnt to make the change more permanent?

Remember, goals change in life, and that is ok. What serves you now may not serve you in the future. Life is constantly changing and we evolve to become a better self.

What are you working on right now? Please share.

 

Outdoor 1:1 personal training Leatherhead

Pleased to announce that Winnie Fitness has availability for TWO female clients who would like to work with an experienced personal trainer to kick start their fitness journey.

Winnie Fitness specializes in the following areas:

-fitness training for complete beginners

-pre and postnatal fitness, including abdominal separation recovery

-nutrition and fitness coaching for weight management

-fitness for over 60s

-fitness in various medical conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma

Find out what clients say: https://winniefitness.com/testimonials/

To book a free consultation, email info@WinnieFitness.com or fill in the contact form: https://winniefitness.com/contact/