I checked a client’s abdominals for abdominal separation before my Mummies and Buggies postnatal indoor buggy class there last week, and it occurred to me that sit ups aren’t a great thing for mums with a tummy distension to be doing.
And, I appreciate this probably isn’t groundbreaking news to you, but just hear me out, alrighty?
This particular client has a toddler, and her new baby isn’t just one, it’s twins, so she’s got her work cut out for her here, hasn’t she?
I detected a bit of a separation (just over 2 finger widths, but I must point out my fingers are quite narrow), and I was relatively pleased with the tension in her linea alba when I tested it.
You know sometimes you dig your fingers around for DR (diastasis recti) and you get that squishy, non-grabbing sensation at the separation site itself?
Yeah, that’s not such good news, and when it comes to closing the gap – I’m little less interested in the gap itself, and much more focussed on the tensile strength of things going on here.
The client and I continued to chat, and when we were done, how did my client instinctively get up off the floor from supine/bent knees?
That’s right – she just automatically sat up to carry on talking to me.
Is it best to avoid a forward flexion with a separation present?
Well, keep reading to find out more:
1. IT’S A FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT THAT CAN’T BE AVOIDED
When you think about it – sit ups and/or forward flexion movements are pretty much unavoidable for the new mum client, aren’t they?
Scenario: it’s 2am, baby wakes up, she gets out of bed to tend her newborn’s cry, and she just gets out of bed, whatever the most economical way is possible.
Which, may involve sitting up, huh?
She is not thinking about herself here – all of her focus is on her baby and reaching out to them, as quickly as possible.
2. INTRODUCE STRATEGIES TO ENABLE CORRECT TECHNIQUE
So, if a client crosses your path with abdominal separation, and you want to be sensible and practical about your approach to diastasis recti rehabilitation, why not get a strategy going for scenarios where she may have to sit up, without her tummy doming?
Co-ordinating breath work when clients perform a sit up is my go-to mechanism here, so try it out with all of your clients.
You’d be surprised how many people in the mainstream population can’t do this very well, and just as a side – if someone has a hernia – they need your help, because the way I treat DR is pretty much the same as a hernia, if I’m honest.
3. SIT UPS AREN’T A REHAB EXERCISE
So, I guess what I’m saying here is whilst I DON’T teach sit ups as an exercise to “close the gap” as such, what I do do (does anyone else titter when they type 2 consecutive dos?!), is get clients thinking a little more about their abdomen doming in normal, everyday life.
Is one sit up going to open up a mum’s separation, in an isolated movement?
Unlikely, so don’t for a moment think I’m suggesting mum do a tonne of sit ups to fix her distension, but that’s not to say you couldn’t include them at some point in her rehab program.
What if mum is coming to see you in the postnatal phase solely for your expertise in this area, with a view to going back to her Pilates classes taught by another instructor down the road, who isn’t postnatal-trained?
If there’s a tonne of forward flexion movements in that class, you need to get her match fit and match ready, if you see what I mean?
4. IT’S ALL ABOUT A REFLEXIVE CORE
Should your client ever need to flex forward in any position, standing, seated or back-lying (or lean back from seated, as another example), it’s important to be looking at the bigger picture here…
…which is actually getting mum a fully functioning, core unit, where ALL of the muscles, including the RA (rectus abdominis), are firing well.
The RA is going to need to do stuff throughout day-to-day life with a newborn baby as mum picks her baby up, lifts them, moves them here and there, and puts them back down again.
You can’t be with your clients all of the time, so re-read points 1 and 2 I raised above if you’re not clear.
5. TRY NOT TO BACKLIST THINGS
It’s that old adage from Henry Ford:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.”
I’ve never been a fan of blacklisting a body movement if I’m honest, and there are probably still a number of pre/postnatal instructors out there avoiding rotation with their pregnant and postnatal clients, and I was indeed one of those people 10+ years ago, before I realised how ridiculous that is.
Do I do planks with my clients by comparison? No.
But, let’s face it – there’s planks and then there’s planks, huh?
Would I expect a client to be educated on what a supported abdominal unit, and what a non-supportive abdominal unit feels like though in a plank-type movement? Yes.
And, there lies my answer, just in case you wanted to know.
I follow a 7-step protocol when rehabilitating diastasis recti, and “task management” is actually Step 5 of my Diastasis Detective Abdominal Separation CPD online training program.
This step is where the question of “To sit up, or not to sit up?” is covered in greater detail and it gets you clearer on whether your client should avoid them entirely, or include them in the functional sense.
From my simple notes here, you see how this approach works, and the knock-on effect is a better functioning core, human and skeletal unit as a whole, right?
I cover this and many more aspects, in the same fun, factual way in my Diastasis Detective ‘7 Steps To Fixing Abdominal Separation’ Online Teacher Training Program.
Doors to the program are open for a limited time only, and if you’re quick – you may just grab yourself an early bird spot.
Don’t dilly-dally – click here to jump onboard, and start helping more women with diastasis recti now.