What I’m referring to is a client I started with several weeks ago who went from not being able to see her toes to seeing her toes in one week. She had given birth to twins over a year ago and had separated abs. Yes she’d had twins. After doing just one of the exercises I explain here, in this post, she reduced her stomach so much she could see her toes (personally I didn’t think her stomach was big enough to stop her being able to see them but apparently it was).
I see it all the time, women doing crunches trying to get ‘flat abs’. Hell I’ve even been guilty of it myself before I knew that abs were really made in the kitchen… A story for another time.
What I want to discuss here is the condition known as the separation and thinning of the Linea alba ligament or what’s sometimes referred to as Diastasis recti. This ligament runs down the middle of your abdomen. It’s not only a female post birth condition, however this is a very common cause. Men can get this problem too.
The length of time after the birth/trauma and addressing the problem does not matter. Anything can be fixed I just want to give you this as a resource of things that are great to do and things which are not so great to do, as if you put too much pressure on the abdomen in the incorrect way while this part is healing, in the worse case scenario you can cause a hernia (where your insides begin to protrude out through the lining in your abdominal wall).
NOTE: If you observe an abdominal protrusion or any hernia symptoms or potrusions while doing crunches or any other time, stop immediately and discuss it with your doctor
If you have this ‘condition’ you will probably have been diagnosed with it not long after giving birth. However in most cases the medical profession fails to let the woman, post birth, know what exactly, they can do about it without causing further damage.
I also want to add, It’s never too late to start address the problem.
The issue with doing crunching type exercises is it causes more strain on this area which does not bring the separated tissue back together, in fact in the worst case scenario, can eventually lead to hernias and in the best, never achieve the aimed desire of flattening the abs OR strengthening the core to support the spine.
So what can you do?
Here’s a list of what not to do and some replacement exercises you CAN and should do. In fact after just one week of implementing the breathing exercise I had a mother of twins go from ‘not being able to see her toes when she looked down’ to being able to see her toes! 🙂 so this is not just from the text book.
Below I have linked a video I made for you which shows you how to measure the gap.
If you do the exercises religiously, at a minimum several times per week you can expect things to be almost back to normal in a 12 week period. Obviously everyone is different and it may take more time.
To do and not to do;
No ab crunches of any kind (no Pilates 100s, sit-ups, reverse abs etc) Alternative is diaphragm breathing with a gentle pelvic floor lift / contraction at the end of the exhale part of the breath. – This is the exercise that shrank my clients stomach in one week! 🙂
Alternative is side plank
No exercises staying on all fours
Alternative – Diaphragm breathing or side lying leg exercises
Alternative just the jump (if your pelvic floor will hold it) and not plank
No swimming Freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke or butterfly, avoid stretching the arms above the head and therefore stretching the abdominal cavity.
Alternative – swim with a kick board against chest using legs only this is for both on your belly or on your back
No deep back bends in yoga, (such as camel pose or up dog)
Alternative – half the back bend such a sphinx pose
Alternative – Push-ups against the wall in a diagonal position
Down dog (yoga pose) is ok but no transition to a plank
Alternative drop to knees to transition
However, trust me the basis is simply not to put forward, outward or downward pressure on the rectus abdominus (six pack muscle) or outer layer of abdominal muscles at all. The focus must be on the deeper muscles. The transverses abdominus, internal obliques (side muscles) and the pelvic floor (needs no description here) as well as healing and visualising the healing of the pelvic floor from the inside out.
This woman I’ve included a link to below – Julie Tupler, has built a business around this one particular issue, recommends using her splint for the healing time (no it’s never too late to start). I didn’t personally have this issue, however if I did I’d try everything without the splint first. I have had clients recover without the splint, but you are the best judge as it’s your body.
Do you want to change YOUR body from the inside out? – I promise it’s actually the only effective way to do it 😉
The next round of my women’s only online 12 week challenge is opening places soon.
If you’d like to apply for one of the spots or find out more click here.
Loads of Ab exercises and lots of other awesome stuff included, to get you the body you deserve 😉
Do you or someone you know have Separated abs after birth?
Please share this article if you think it may help someone.
Click here to see the video on how on measure your gap so you can track your progress.