Diastasis recti is a complex injury which depends on time and personal dedication to heal. The results of the healing process are convoluted at times. Many programs and health “experts” try to lure you into their flat belly programs and value looks over functionality.
Understanding that a healthy body does not necessarily equate to a toned, slim, and sexy body is the best mentality when approaching your healing process. In this article I will attempt to answer any questions you have regarding before and after diastasis recti while also kicking culturally fueled health tips to the curb.
What is diastasis recti? Diastasis recti is the stretching or separation of the rectus abdominis (6 pack) muscles caused by the thinning of the linea alba (midline connective tissue). Diastasis recti separation leaves your abdominal organs unsupported, and if severe, can expose your digestive organs creating a stomach bulge.
This separation can range from being isolated above the belly button, within the belly button, and below the belly button sitting above the pubic bone. In some cases, the separation encompasses the entire mid section of the core.
I hate before and after pics. The truth is: they are a sham and they don’t really tell the real story. They do not encourage us to be healthy long term and they breed a false ideal of how you should look and feel. How you look IS NOT an indicator of health!
How you look has nothing to do with how healthy you are. Many athletes and bodybuilders have constant back, shoulder, core issues and pain despite their healthy and toned appearance. In many cases, athletes and bodybuilders have a diastasis recti without even realizing it! Buying into an appearance based program only damages any attempts at building a stronger and more functional core and balanced body. You can still have a belly and be healthy with a functional, strong core.
Fit does not equal health. Being fit, just like having a slim and flat belly, does not make you pain or injury free. Having abs that are too tight, taught, and tense can go hand in hand with lower back pain, incontinence, painful sex, and even the development of a diastasis recti. A toned core does not mean a healthy core.
Sculpted arms and shoulders can accompany shoulder injuries and pain. A tight butt can go hand in hand with incontinence, painful sex, and back pain as well! Just because you have the tightest body or are sculpted like a Greecan goddess does not mean that you are free from painful injuries or have a healthy body. An appropriate before and after mentality encourages function–ridding yourself of injuries, pain, struggles, and weariness–and focuses on building a strong, balanced, supple, and empowered body that makes exercising almost effortless.
Instead, Before and After culture influences us to become victims of fad diets and quick-fix solutions. The reality is: building strength, healing injuries, and becoming more able to accomplish tasks with ease takes time and dedication. Our culture is OBSESSED with Before and After. We shouldn’t be focused on how much we weigh, or how much fat we have, or how flat our bellies are, or how tight our butts are. Instead, we should focus on our wellness as being a way of life. An approach that cannot be measured by Before and After pics.
Before and after diastasis recti rehab is complex. The mechanism for closure is not a cut and dry approach or result. I have many, many clients who have done Restore Your Core and although they have closed their diastasis recti, they still have a pooch. This can be confusing because many people believe that healing a DR equals flat abs.
Before a diastasis recti is healed there can be a whole host of bodily function issues. Rectus abdominis separation can lead to a stomach bulge (aka stomach pooch), pelvic floor issues, unnatural posture, and stomach and back pain. The various symptoms that can accompany a diastasis recti range from:
Before healing takes place, you can be in a very uncomfortable or self-conscious place. If you are facing some of the issues above, it can be quite worrisome. However it is really important to understand that the After is not what appearance culture insists it is. I wish I had a quick-fix solution for diastasis recti, but I do not. The key to dealing with a diastasis recti is effective core training. The whole goal is to train your body to react and respond appropriately to your movement and activities.
A healthy body with a closed diastasis recti does not equal flat abs or lack of body fat. I never, ever try to sell flat abs with my programs. Some of my clients who are healed are functional but have a belly. With a diastasis recti the entire muscle system of the core is affected. This can also affect digestion which can, in turn, affect other systems. A realistic healing process is one which takes time … and then some more time.
Connective tissue heals super slowly and each body presents itself differently. What works for some may not be a guaranteed approach for others. The confusing part of the healing process is that some women who have a lot more belly fat can close their diastasis recti and the result is a functional and slim belly with flat abs; while some women who have little to no belly fat with a diastasis recti end the program with a functional core, but with a belly.
The After results of a diastasis recti looks like:
Learning how to effectively approach core training is not rocket science. However, it does require a shift in many of us in how we use and think about our bodies. Closing a diastasis recti does not equate to flat abs or a sexy appearance. We are sold into that ideal again and again and it just isn’t fair. How deep the gap – not how wide – determines how long it will take to close a diastasis recti.