I was just reading about this and it fits me. Its a seperation of a muscle that goes across the abdomen, happens a lot in women who have had c-sections or were overweight during pregnancy-which was me. The website I was on said that it was correctible if it was caught within the first 6 weeks after pregnancy and an exercise plan was put in place. Well, I'm just about 3 years past pregnancy and I'm wondering if this is something that I now have to live with. It makes me look like I'm still pregnant and its just plain horrible to look at.
Is there anyone familiar with this? Who knows if there is a way to correct it this long after the damage was done? I'm going to my doctors tomorrow and I plan on asking her, but just curious if anyone else has dealt with it.
11-07-2002, 12:27 PM
I hope your doctor had good news and was able to recommend something to help.
I'm not sure if this will help, but I found these references from Storknet.
Exercises for Diastasis Recti (separation of abdominal muscles)
By Lisa Stone, ACE
Q. I am one month postpartum, and my abdominal wall is separated more than two finger widths. What can I do about this?
A. Here are some exercises that a physical therapist and I have developed for diastasis recti:
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your abdomen with your fingertips pointing down toward your pubic bone. Exhale as you slowly lift your head (and shoulders, if you can) while pressing down and in with your fingers - that will urge the rectus back together.
Take a long towel and wrap it around your torso with the ends in front. As you perform a crunch, pull the ends of the towel towards each other in front of your belly button, which will also urge the muscle back together.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. As you exhale, slowly extend one leg along the floor, feeling your abdomen contract below your belly button. Inhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
You can do these exercises daily. After one week, re-check for separation. Since you are only one month postpartum, you will probably find that the separation heals within a couple of weeks. At that point, you can resume normal abdominal exercises.
Ab Work With Ab Separation
By Lisa Stone, ACE
Q. I have a minor abdominal separation of about one finger width. I will be diligently doing the exercises for this I found in the archived threads. My question is will doing other types of ab work hinder the closing of the separation? I have a small routine I like to do with some oblique work as well as rectus abdominus work. Can I do these along with the specific exercises for the separation? Can I really expect a full closure? I was always so happy with my abs, even after one baby. Baby #2 has been harder on me.
A. If you do regular ab work, just wrap a towel around your back at the lowest part of your waist, crossing the ends of the towel in front of you, splinting your abs just below your belly button - that will help pull the two sides of the rectus together as you perform the exercises. You should expect full healing of the separation within a couple of weeks of doing the special exercises. If you don't see any progress, talk with your healthcare provider about getting a referral to a physical therapist specializing in postpartum issues.
And this from online fit:
During pregnancy, the female body is placed under unusual circumstances which change the way they move and behave with their bodies. This concept is most evident with the muscles of the core and abdomen. The outmost abdominal muscle, called the rectus abdominus, forms two halves, a right and left recti muscle. These two halves join at the central seam, called the linea alba. During pregnancy, the linea alba softens due to a hormone called relaxin. This softening makes this connection of the two recti muscles vulnerable, and like a zipper it can separate under the pressure of the growing uterus. This separation of the recti muscles is called a diastasis recti and can occur at, below or above the navel. A normal separation is about one to two fingers wide. Doing abdominals incorrectly can cause this space to widen even more. It is this separation that must be evaluated frequently during pregnancy and after birth in order to determine what abdominal exercises are the correct ones for you. There are several exercises that one can do to control or reverse diastasis recti, but before attempting, those who are post-pregnancy should consult their physician for an investigation of the condition. These exercises are as follows.
1.Belly Breathing Sit with your back against a wall and your recti muscles supported by crisscrossing your hands over your belly one wrist over the other or use a dyna band to pull recti toward each other. Every time you exhale focus on pulling your navel toward your spine. If you start to feel light headed slow down your exhalation pace. Start with 30 seconds and then increase time when the 30 seconds feels easy working your way up to 90 seconds. Do this 5 times for 30 seconds each. This exercise is performed to help your body learn how to activate your transverse abdominus, a muscle that runs parallel to the ground that functions in holding the internal organs in place, and is also affected by the weight of a growing fetus during pregnancy.
2.Crunch Breathing Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your abdomen with your fingertips pointing down toward your pubic bone. Exhale as you slowly lift your head (and shoulders, if you can) while pressing down and in with your fingers - that will urge the rectus back together. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps, with a 1 minute rest in between.
2.Towel Crunch Take a long towel and wrap it around your torso with the ends in front. Beginning with your head on the ground, crunch up until your upper back is off the ground and as you perform a crunch, pull the ends of the towel towards each other in front of your belly button, which will also urge the muscle back together. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps, with a 1 minute rest in between.
3.Bent Leg Raise Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. As you exhale, slowly extend one leg along the floor, feeling your abdomen contract below your belly button. Inhale as you return your knee towards your shoulder, then put the foot back on the floor next to the other. Repeat with the other leg. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps, with one set having 10-15 reps on each leg.
These exercises can be done daily. It is very important for one with a slack abdomen to be conscious of posture, and to be sure that whenever sitting or standing, always maintain shoulders back with chest up but keeping the back straight. Once these exercises become too easy, progress to 20-25 reps per set.
The difficulties of pregnancy can sometimes be enough to take away from the joy of having a child, and it is of utmost importance for every mother to understand that exercise before, during, and after pregnancy is beneficial to the baby, ease of delivery, and recovery time to pre-birth body states.
BHK, PFLC, CSCS
11-08-2002, 04:18 PM
Suzanne, this is excellent information! Thanks so much for it! I'll try the exercises plus the ones that my doctor told me about. She said that although it would leave a heck of a scar, surgery would not be major, just a matter of stitching the muscle back together again. Not sure I would want to go that route, but I'll see how the exercises go first.
Thanks so much!!
11-12-2002, 07:31 PM
Please don't put off doing the exercises, they are really good and will make some difference to your appearance if not the RA separation. BUT as you say it has been 3 years since you gave birth you won't be able to fully correct this without surgery.
The good news is that, generally, this separation has few, usually minimal, physical side effects (further pregnancies cause the most problems as this muscle is vital to stabilise the new bump). The bad news is that it does make regaining a flat stomach nigh on impossible. If you really want flat abs then the surgery is a must and the scarring a necessary evil.
I am sorry to be a damp squib, but I would hate to read about your supposed 'failure' in 6 months time. Good luck with the exercises, tummy flattening knickers, and the possibility of corrective surgery!
11-13-2002, 12:43 PM
Stef, don't worry about being a "damp squib":lol: . I know that the exercises will be my first shot. I've been advised to give them 4-6 weeks and if I don't see any improvement then maybe a physical therapist will help. At this point in my life I'm not expecting a perfectly flat belly-heck, I never had one before I had kids:dizzy: and I'm not planning on putting on any bikinis again in this lifetime I would probably put up with the scar as the necessary evil:devil:
My main concern about undergoing surgery is the cost. It would be a fight to get insurance to cover it as they would probably consider it cosmetic surgery. Additional pregnancies aren't likely to occur... at least not in my present marriage. We have 4 kids between us and have decided thats enough.
Thanks so much for your input!! I really appreciate it! Its so nice to finally have something to go on!
11-13-2002, 02:59 PM
I'll check out the PT route for you. I am in contact with a couple in the US via a fitness forum. One of the ladies there will be able to give me some info on this and I'll pass it on to you.
This might save you some time and cash or it will give you some information on which to base your choice of PT!
Back ASAP, Stefxxx
11-18-2002, 12:30 PM
Sorry to take so long...
A PT will not be able to make a difference to your separation, although she wil be able to show you some very specific exercises for the abs that are quite time consuming to describe in writing! For instance you can do normal crunches but use your hands to push the separated muscles back together as they separate during the exercise. This sounds easy but can be difficult to do well, so a PT could show you.
Apart from that, your stuck with the separated muscles, but that shouldn't cause you too much trouble except that your tummy will never flatten out as much as it would without it!
Good luck, Stef
11-18-2002, 12:57 PM
Thanks so much for looking into it. I guess unless I want to do the surgery route, I'm stuck with what I have. I'm sure that weight loss will help a great deal. I'll only go through life looking 6 months pregnant instead of 8;)
I'm glad that it won't do me much harm physically. I'm just disappointed that I may never see a size 10 again. Oh well, thems the breaks.