Some women and men suffer from a stubborn pouch of skin and apparent fat in their midsection which, despite their best efforts, simply won’t tone. There can be various underlying reasons why this is occurring, and you may even need some support from waist trainers and other products to finally achieve that hard, flat, and thin-waist look.
Consider Possible Injuries
If you’re suffering from any known or undiagnosed abdominal injury is can be impossible, and dangerous, to attempt a full-throttle diet and fitness regime targeting the abs and other supporting muscles, and simply won’t produce the desired results.
If you are training hard on your abs but just not seeing the sleek, slim, streamlined results you’re searching for, consider that there may be an underlying medical condition preventing you from making headway in your goals. You may have diastasis recti, a muscle injury that is repairable with proper exercise modifications and movements.
What is Diastasis Recti?
If you haven’t heard of diastasis recti, you’re not alone. In fact, this common lingering condition is underdiagnosed by many health care providers even though it affects nearly two-thirds of all mothers, male athletes, and newborns as well. The resultant tummy bulge and lack of muscle tone is often overlooked or dismissed as the fat gain and excess skin of unhealthy practices (ie. “beer gut”, or a unwelcome inevitability related to pregnancy – basically as “just part of being a new mother” Though it can and does happen in both men and women, diastasis recti is most commonly found in women who have had one or more children.
Diastasis recti is commonly explained as a separation of the muscles of the abdomen, specifically the rectus abdominal muscle, creating a gap of 2.7 cm or more between them (roughly the width of two fingers). More accurately, though, diastasis recti is understood to be a stretching and thinning of the tissues of the abdomen.
It’s considered a muscle injury, and is common to mothers in their third trimester: an injury many carry with them into the post-partum period. With diastasis recti, the abdominal muscles haven’t tightened to their optimal positions after pregnancy and delivery. The symptoms are fairly easy to spot once you know what to look for – but also easy to dismiss!
Without proper attention, suitable exercise adaptations, belly binding, or waist training diastasis recti can linger on in some people for years or even decades. Though not considered an emergency per se, when the internal organs don’t have the full support of the abdominal muscles we can experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Indicators include; difficulty performing certain movements or exercises, back pain, constipation, and (in rare cases) damage to the area with improper lifting which may result in a hernia!
Diastasis Recti and Fitness
It’s important to be aware of the condition and be prepared to modify traditional fitness activities. Some routine fitness moves trainers promote – including crunches, sit-ups, push-ups, press-ups, and front planks – will inadvertently make the abdominal separation worse, not better. Swimming, some yoga poses (like a downward dog), and doing anything on your hands and knees can also aggravate the injury. Other activities that prevent muscles from knitting back together properly include lifting, twisting, jackknifing out of bed, and other moves that activate the core muscles in a “bulging” way.
Movements that help reknit the rectus abdominal muscle safely include gentle and careful side-lying exercises, deep chest breathing, and mindful awareness and modification of daily tasks. Pushing up on one’s side to get out of a chair or bed slowly will also help prevent additional separation and begin healing the injury over time.
Diastasis Recti Resources
Paid courses, programs, and one-on-one trainer support for those with diastasis recti are available and there is also a wealth of free information, tutorials, and videos that explain how to modify your movements and start your healing journey available online. To learn more about diastasis recti, including how to check yourself at home and modify your existing exercise routine and daily movements, start by viewing these free videos on Vimeo:
Remember, it’s important to heal the injury before having more children or attempting traditional core training exercises. Moderate to severe cases of diastasis recti can add additional undue hardship, superfluous back pain. Make it easier on your body by taking the time to heal your previous injury and properly knit your abs back together.
Healing your diastasis recti will take some conscious choices and mindful changes to your movements and postures, but by adopting even a handful of the recommended movements and techniques, you will feel much improved and well on your way to recovery. In no time at all, I will be back to easily performing all the twisting and lifting moves that are so much a part of our lives, and back on track with your more rigorous core training!
Once you have ruled out the possibility of a lingering abdominal injury that needs to be addressed and healed – or if you’ve taken the time and put in the work to heal your diastasis recti but still haven’t achieved the results you’re looking for – you may want to consider using waist trainers, bands, bodysuits, shapers, or corsets to tighten up and reshape any trouble areas. Waist trainers and cinchers, and other body-shaping and training undergarments (for even arms and bottoms) have come a long way since the 1800s and you don’t have to tight-lace a corset to see results.
Attaining that elusive hourglass shape can be a long, challenging, but rewarding process. Don’t give up and do take advantage of the supporting physical fitness trainers and support garments available to you so you can speed the healing and re-adjusting process.