Saturday, March 15, 2014

Diastasis Recti: The Yo-Yo Effect

I've been stuck trying to write this post for several months now. I don't know what took me so long...maybe I wanted to wait until I actually had progress before checking in?

The title of this post pretty much says it all: healing from diastasis recti is a journey of ups and downs. Some of this is just the nature of the problem; I've heard people say that their progress stalled for quite some time closing up the next 1/2 inch whereas in the beginning the progress was more evident. But in addition to this, the motivation factor is inconsistent.

As I mentioned before, I had seen some results due to splinting. However, diastasis recti fitness is similar to dieting in that your progress might be obvious on an empty stomach or right after you've worked out, but in reality it takes a lot more work before that is your constant condition. With diastasis recti (and probably abdominal fitness in general), your initial "engaged" position (where your tummy is as flat as you can manage) will eventually become your new "relaxed" position. In other words, once you've made progress, what you look like when you slouch is what you used to look like when you were trying your hardest to suck in your gut. That's good news, right? Though it still doesn't mean a flat tummy, it's impressive in a comparative way.

Here are some comparisons I can now make.

Starting point (after diagnosis)

Relaxed position: I look 5 months pregnant? Belly sticks out and is sort of hard, not simply flabby. If I look down, I can't see my belly button.
Engaged: I lose a few inches, but look bloated/chubby/post-partum. Can't suck tummy in "all the way."

Later on (9 months or so)

Relaxed position: I look bloated/chubby/post-partum. Not sure if I could pass for just chubby or not. I'm not an expert, but it looks like the gap is still visible, like there are two halves to my abdomen. I feel like I've lost weight, but my clothes are still pretty tight. Maybe things have just moved up or down.
Engaged: Relatively flat, but with wrinkly/extra skin. Belly button has come out of hiding but is still kind of buried.

Exercise update: Part of why I stopped exercising for awhile was that I needed a better splint. I was afraid that rigorous exercise would make the gap open up even wider. My parents recently shipped me a new splint (a Scott binder which is specifically for this purpose), and after just one week my stomach is significantly flatter. However, I've been investigating this topic long enough to know that without training the muscles, everything will all go back to where it was. The splint is just there to prevent further injury and "suggest" to the muscles how to move. So I am really trying to do those exercises and at the very least try to engage my core as I go about my day.

A sign of progress is that I know now HOW to engage the core. I think that I'd always had a weak core, but never worked on it, as my stomach was flat (hard to believe). I could literally only do 1-2 sit-ups. What a traumatic experience pregnancy and childbirth must have been for my poor body! But it came through for me. :)


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