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Old 01-06-2009, 06:44 PM   #1
Lauren Evans
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Diastasis Recti from back to back pregnancies

Hi,
I am new to crossfit and eager to continue training, however, I have a separation of the abdominals due to two back to back pregnancies. I was told I should stop, as doing these type of exercises would actually make it worse. I can fit three finger widths below and above my naval, and four finger widths at my naval line. My midwife gave me some suggestions on how to fix it, but after researching online, have found conflicting info on the subject. I've tried her excercise, but with no results.

I am wondering if there is anyone out there that has actually suffered from diastasis recti, and how they fixed it. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!!
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Old 01-07-2009, 03:51 AM   #2
Sara Fleming
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Re: Diastasis Recti from back to back pregnancies

Hi Lauren,

I had it, really bad. I was able to fix it twice with exercise, but eventually had to have it surgically repaired.

Here's what I posted about it on another thread:

You may want to self-evaluate or have a doctor evaluate you for rectus diastasis. It means that the connective tissue between your abodominal muscles is weakened and stretched. Some rebound is possible, but you cannot shrink connective tissue with exercise. If this is the cause of the bulge, there's only so much you can do. I got it in my first pregnancy and it got worse during my second. I was able to pull it back together, but had to really avoid any kind of sit-ups, crunches, etc. because those made it worse. Instead, I concentrated on medicine ball work and plyometrics, especially box jumps and tuck jumps because they really help tighten those lower abdominals. I was able to close the 3 inch gap to a mere centimeter.

But then came baby number three. I ended up with my linea alba stretched out to a massive 5 inches and a hernia in my belly button (small, but painful). Now, I could hold my muscles together, but thats a lot of effort (no one else has to "hold" their stomach in literally all day, the connective tissues do a lot of that work) and as I would fatigue through the day my belly would protrude more and more. I got down to 14% bodyfat, I am 5'8" and weighed 128 lbs, and people were asking me on a daily basis when my baby was due and didn't I just look soooo cute for a pregnant person! Anyway, I was to have surgery for some other abdominal/pelvic issues so I decided to have it surgically repaired.

It was definitely an ordeal, but I have so much more energy, stamina, and I'm stronger than ever. I'm very glad I had it done. I didn't have a lot of extra skin so I have a big scar that runs from hip to hip about three inches below my belly button (if you have a lot of extra skin, they can pull it down, cut it off and reattach it right at the pubic line). However, I feel 100% better and half of that is probably because no one mistakes me for being pregnant anymore. Which, lets face it, when you work out as hard as we do, that's pretty demoralizing. Not to mention, I had a lot of bowel issues to the point that my doctors suspected IBS or Crohn's disease, since my surgery, I haven't had any. Seems that when you bowel is not being supported and sinks down into parts of your body its not supposed to be in, it gets a little testy.

Every woman's body is different. I have a friend who has had four children and whom I swear has reformed her six pack within hours of giving birth. I have another friend who has only had one baby and was left with a ridiculous amount of extra skin and stretch marks. Both of these ladies are triathletes and eat very well. Whatever you do, don't compare yourself to other women. You are unique and if you have this issue, it is not your fault and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it.

To self-evaluate for diastasis, lie on your back flat on the floor. Lift your shoulders off the floor as if you are going to do a crunch. You may see a ridge rise up down your mid-line. Or, you may be able to sink your finger into a trench down your mid-line. Basically, instead of hard muscle or connective tissue, there will be a papery thin lining that you can push down on and actully feel your guts. Cool!

Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I couldn't find anyone to talk to about this when I was going through it so if you want to PM me, feel free.

Sara


Absolutely avoid sit-ups or any kind of ab work where you are hyperextending your abdomen. Its too much stress and its just going to make it worse. I had to sort of curl my abs in and engage the core at all time when I worked out to bring it back together. As i would fatigue through the day, it would get worse. As I stated above, getting it repaired was SO worth it. I contine to be amazed at how much stronger I am and how much more endurance I have.

I demonstrated to a client just the other day how much your core does for you because when my core was blown out, my box jump sucked. It took a lot of effort to jump 12 inches. Now that it is repaired, I bound around like a kangaroo. So, in the middle of our conversation, I jumped up onto a 2.5 foot crate without even being warmed up. She said I looked like a border collie and we both laughed at my obnoxiousness, but the point of core strength was made.

No one really gets this problem either unless they have it. I understand that as well. Its very frustrating when people tell you to "just work out harder". As I stated above, you can't exercise connective tissue. If you could, we could make our breasts perkier with exercise. Now wouldn't that be something. . .

If you have any questions, feel free to PM me. This can be a very demoralizing problem, but its not too expensive to fix. Mine cost $4800 in hospital, out of hospital (in the plastic surgeon's clinic) would have been $3200. There's a good on-line information resource called www.tuckthattummy.com (not really wfs, lots of naked post surgery pics) and although most of the ladies there are having cosmetic surgery done, a lot are also there for diastasis repair and its referred to as muscle repair or MR.

Good luck.

SAra

Last edited by Sara Fleming : 01-07-2009 at 03:54 AM.
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Old 01-07-2009, 04:44 AM   #3
Sara Fleming
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Re: Diastasis Recti from back to back pregnancies

Sorry, forgot to address the direct exercise question here.

Give crossfit a try for 2-3 months and I think you will see a difference, however, avoid any direct abdominal work (situps, knees to elbows, etc.) it WILL make the problem worse. The "indirect" core challenge of the functional moves, especially the power training such as kettlebell swings, Olympic lifts, box jumps, and the power lifts will do a lot to pull those muscles back together for you. Three to four finger widths is not too far gone. I think you can do it. It will depend, of course, on your individual connective tissue so if it doesn't work, again, its not your fault, its connective tissue. Its like trying to exercise your nose into a different shape.

I am actually training a client right now who just had her fourth baby and is still nursing. She has a pretty wrecked abdomen and I'm going to introduce her to my friend the medicine ball on Friday. We'll see how it goes.

Again, if you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

Sara
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Old 01-07-2009, 03:17 PM   #4
Lauren Evans
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Talking Re: Diastasis Recti from back to back pregnancies

Hi Sara,
Thanks so much for the reply. I was told not to pull or push weight over my head, dont know if you ever ran into any problems with those types of exercises after your first two pregnancies. I will give the box jumps and plyometric exercises a try, though. And the medicine ball. Do you have any specific medicine ball exercises that worked particularly well for you?

Thanks again for your help!!

Lauren
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Old 01-07-2009, 03:42 PM   #5
Sara Fleming
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Re: Diastasis Recti from back to back pregnancies

I didn't have a problem with pushing or pulling weight over my head as long as I was "protecting my core", or engaging the abs. I did have a problem with pullups from time to time.

With the medicine ball, pretty much anything. Throw it, slam it, move it in circles around the front of you. Move it in arcs over your head. Do reverse wood choppers from side to side. Do step ups on the bench while holding it out in front of you and then press it overhead. Squat down and touch the ground with it and then jump up and pretend to do a jump shot.

When you hold weight in front of you, you automatically have to stabilize and engage your abdominal muscles to maintain your balance. Moving the medicine ball around in front of you does this dynamically and so constantly challenges your abdominal muscles in new and intense ways. It wakes them up and really stimulates every last muscle fiber. Pick one up and play with it and you'll see what I mean.

And then try not to laugh or breathe the next day. It will hurt. A lot.

Sara
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Old 01-28-2009, 02:27 PM   #6
Lauren Evans
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Re: Diastasis Recti from back to back pregnancies

Thanks Sara, for the reply. I have applied what you said to do over the last few weeks, and I can already tell a difference. I now have only a two finger width gap...much better then before. However, I have a small, sometimes painful, lump right above my belly button. I had it after my first child, and it didnt seem to be a problem through out my second pregnancy. But it's still there, I'm hoping it's not a hernia...oh boy. But just wanted to say thanks for all the help.
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Old 01-29-2009, 05:11 AM   #7
Sara Fleming
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Re: Diastasis Recti from back to back pregnancies

You are welcome. I'm glad it was helpful.

Unfortunately, that painful lump does sound like an umbilical hernia. Just keep an eye on it. I had to have mine surgically repaired with the whole kit and kaboodle. Let your doctor know about it just so you and he/she can keep an eye on it. They can be dangerous if they have perforated all the way through. I had a friend who had a bowel obstruction from the umbilical hernia. Symptoms were onset of extreme abdominal pain (not in here belly button, but in her side) and cramping. She had to have emergency surgery to repair it. Its probably worth a consult just to be sure.

Good luck.
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