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?
Following on from my earlier blog – Can You Lessen The Chances Of Your PREGNANT Clients Getting Abdominal Separation Part 1?
Well, here are the final 2 ways pregnant women can deform their linea alba.
You’ll obviously want to educate them about all of these:
4) CROUCHING TIGER, TWISTED PELVIS
Maybe your client has been relatively active, but they have a pelvis that’s slightly twisted to the right, and a ribcage that’s slightly shifted to the left?
This means their umbilicus s no longer exactly in the centre.
If you think about the fabric t-shirts are made from – sometimes, you can pull and stretch it in certain ways much better than others, and it bounces back evenly.
It enjoys being pulled one way, but when you try and stretch it from another angle, it doesn’t pull so easily, does it?
There’s only so much tugging the linea alba is going to tolerate too, so getting the pelvis and ribcage better aligned is your job as their prenatal instructor/bodyworker.
Can you lessen the chances of your pregnant clients getting abdominal separation?
In a simple answer: yes.
Yes, you can.
Very easily indeed.
I’ve worked with over 1,000 pre/postnatal women, and over the past 3 years, I’ve seen a lesser incidence of abdominal separation in the clients who train with me during pregnancy, and return to exercise after birth.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s certainly the odd case of a client who meets me in her second or third pregnancy, having had no exercise history with me previously, who presents with a diastasis post-baby.
Was she certain she rehabilitated herself in between pregnancies?
Possibly, yes, possibly not.
And, sure you might have been taught to only teach your pregnant clients to follow a ‘maintenance’ program only.
That’s fair enough.
That’s the safe and effective answer.
Pregnancy isn’t the time to try something new.
Or is it though if it’s going to prevent someone getting abdominal separation, pelvic floor dysfunction or back pain?
Is pregnancy the time to build muscle, release tension, alter alignment and build better habits?
I’d say yes – yes it is.
Something I said in my pregnancy class just this week was:
“How your body copes with pregnancy, really depends on how much baggage you come to pregnancy with.”
Pregnancy doesn’t really cause abdominal separation…
…although it’s often seen as a postnatal ‘injury’.
I’m going to be talking a lot about pressure and the linea alba today.
Anatomically speaking, ALL of the core muscles connect indirectly to the linea alba.
This means that repetitive motions or chronic tension in ANY of these muscles (the obliques and transverse abdominals included) – can slowly deform the linea alba.
What habits should you be teaching your pregnant clients to enable them to avoid getting a diastasis?
Well, here are 5 ways pregnant women can deform their linea alba.
In a previous blog, I listed a number of exercises that WON’T fix abdominal separation.
One of the movements I would’ve most definitely AVOIDED in my early days of training pre/postnatal clients was ROTATION.
Maybe you still do, and that’s fine. They’re your clients. It’s their welfare. I get it.
It’s just that in the whole grand scheme of rehabilitating a diastasis, I can tell you now…
…you will absolutely, most definitely, want to add some unloaded, non-dynamic, static hold, twisting movements into your clients’ program, to help release out the oblique muscles.
‘Release’ and ‘stretch’ are 2 separate things, in my language you see.
One’s active. The other’s passive. I’ll let you decide which one’s which.
I entered the fitness industry via the jumpy-jumpy aerobics, personal trainer, fitness route, then soon got injured and realised that Pilates enabled me to understand the body a little better…
…and it really helped me take a step back from hi-impact to take the load off my poor painful feet.
Pilates is actually a great form of exercise for both our pregnant and postnatal clients and Pilates forms the basis of a lot of my education, training and background.
The slight issue I have nowadays with Pilates is the pre-teaching of the ‘core’ engagement stuff that I’m no longer down with.
It took a lot of resistance for me to stop saying ‘now draw your tummy in’ or ‘engage your core’ in my classes.
Way back when I first started teaching exercise to pregnant and postnatal women I had no idea what I was doing.
When YOU first started out your career working with this niche population, did you have any clue either?
Fortunately, by the time I had this photo taken with me and a group of my pregnant ‘bumps’ I did though. Don’t they look great?
Ok, ok, so we get the basic qualification, we educate ourselves, we read research articles here and there, buy a few books/DVDs to get some ideas, go on training courses, attend conferences, trial and test out some stuff we absorb and just get stuck in, don’t we?
I once met a client who came to my postnatal Pilates classes who had all 3 of these issues:
1) Abdominal separation (3 finger width gap above and below the navel)
2) Pelvic floor weakness (she was wetting herself on impact), and
3) An umbilical hernia (diagnosed by her GP)
I’ve rehabilitated and lessened the symptoms all of these 3 conditions in a lot of women (and men) over the past few years.
And, what’s surprising is: they’re all linked.
Let me explain a little further:
TOO MUCH PRESSURE
Want to know how to test postnatal clients for abdominal separation?
Covered diastasis recti very very briefly on your Level 3 ante/postnatal qualification and really need a re-fresher
Really don’t feel confident in your abilities testing for any separation?
Watch this video below:
Diastasis Detective – Online Instructor Fixing Abdominal Separation CPD Program Opening Again in 2018!
Sign up NOW to the VIP priority list, and be one of the first instructors notified when the program goes LIVE!
In simple terms, the Rectus Abdominus (six-pack muscle) sometimes separates during pregnancy (see picture above) to accommodate growing baby bump.
It’s important to point out that abdominal separation happens in some, but not all pregnancies.
It’s vital though that if a client comes to you after birth (at any stage), presenting with abdominal separation, that you ensure you’re giving appropriate adaptations and modifications to not make the diastasis worse.
Are you enjoying the posts so far, by the way? If so, pop a comment below, or better still, share this information with your FitPro friends.
If you haven’t stumbled upon Parts 1 or 2 of this wonderful series of articles, here they are below: