Happiness & Diastasis Recti
So tonight’s post is a little bit different from my normal posts. Tonight I want to talk about a medical condition I’ve just discovered that I have, it’s called Diastasis Recti. Here’s a little definition and description.
Diastasis is a common source of concern and confusion for both patients and doctors. Diastasis refers to a stretching of the connective tissue that normally holds each side of your “six pack” muscles together. This band of tissue called the Linea alba (white line) is generally relatively thin and firm. The white line may be weak in some individuals as a normal anatomical variant or, more commonly, it can be stretched out after large fluctuations in weight gain and loss, such as pregnancy.
Diastasis affects both men and women. Most commonly, a patient will notice an “Alien” coming from the abdomen between the rib cage and the belly button when they try to do a sit up. The area is rarely painful and almost is never seen except when doing “sit up” type movements. (From Michigan Hernia Surgery)
For me I noticed mine a couple of years ago, it was smaller and it made no sense to me as anatomically I knew that there wasn’t anything that should cause this bump. I wish I had Googled it back then but I saw a really fit guy at the gym with one and just assumed it was normal. A couple of weeks ago, I was doing some crunches and looked down to see that my bump had grown and that scared me. So I Googled it and bam, Diastasis Recti (DR). I had unfortunately made it worse over the last few months because I had been doing a lot of crunches and similar abdominal workouts. I thought I was doing something good, and to a degree I was, but there are better ways to build your core strength that won’t aggravate or create this condition.
Of course the core reason for this condition is that I’ve been overweight for most of my life and I carry my weight around my belly which causes pressure on the linea alba much like when a woman is pregnant. This condition is most often seen in post partum women who in an effort to get their pre-baby bodies back do tons of crunches and cause a weakening in the linea alba. I have joked for years about my belly that I was pregnant, it seems the universe has a sense of humor.
Once I realized what was going on I set out to do some research and it was enlightening. It was enlightening in two ways, first in what I was learning about the condition and secondly how much bad information is out there on the internet. So, my disclaimer, I’m not a medical professional, you should check with yours before doing anything. One of the first things I saw was that DR could not be fixed with exercise and had to be surgically repaired. From my further research I don’t believe this to be true and have confirmed that with a couple of physical therapists. Now, it may have to be surgically repaired if there is a hernia involved as well, or if after going through the appropriate physical therapy you are unable to re-strengthen the tissue and reduce the size of the bump.
What I have primarily learned is two things, in the beginning, abdominal binding may be a good idea but is not absolutely necessary. Second, the real goal here is to increase your transverse abdominal muscles without doing exercises that stress the condition (i.e. crunches, traditional sit-ups or straight leg lifts). This means working with some yoga and Pilates related exercises as well as doing abdominal bracing and hollowing exercises. Almost everything I read said it would likely take up to six weeks to start to see results and up to twelve weeks to normally resolve the condition. That of course means you’re doing the exercises religiously and not doing anything to cause a set back. At the bottom of the piece I’ll list some sites that I found helpful both for exercises and information, but as always buyer beware.
So the title of the piece is Happiness & Diastasis Recti, how the heck could this make me happy? It’s a lesson in our day-to-day happiness that I dare say I might not have come to several years ago. In every situation there is an opportunity, they are not always obvious, but they are almost always there. Happiness is also a choice, I strongly believe that and in this situation I’ve made the choice to look for the opportunity and be happy about it. I will be for the next six weeks effectively be wearing a girdle and that will make me self-conscious as hell. I can no longer do crunches or work the captain’s chair doing straight leg lifts, something that I was pretty proud of building up to.
However, this situation has provided me with a few things. First, it is more motivation to lose weight, I’ve dropped down to within about twenty pounds of my goal weight, I’m almost fifty pounds lighter than I was at my heaviest and this has given me the extra motivation to lose those last pounds. Secondly, I’m more in touch with my core, to say that in the most new age, hippie way I can think to say it. However this is really a good thing, it’s got me exercising differently as well as changing some basic movements like the way I get out of bed. This new core awareness should actually help me become a stronger better cyclist and hiker and that’s a good thing.
We all face struggles and new hurdles pop up all of the time, we can choose to be victims, we can choose to be upset, or we can choose to look for opportunities and make the best of things. When we choose to look for those our opportunities we are choosing happiness, so choose happiness and have many happy days my friends ~ Rev Kane
Helpful Sites I’ve Found
DR beginning exercises for deep abdominal muscles – I really like this lady’s demeanor and it’s a great beginning point for exercises and workouts. There are more advanced exercises on her home site.
12 Weeks of Workouts to Rebuild After DR – this site has a good section on how to determine if you have this as well as some good exercises for building your transverse abdominal (TVA) muscles.
Your guide to treating DR – Part 2 – I really like these two videos, the trainer brings in a Physical Therapist to talk about the exercises and the condition and there’s a good little question and answer section.
The MuTu system, for Mummy Tummy – this system gets really good press around the net and seems to work, it’s essentially pre-packaged TVA and other exercises with an online coach for about $100. So the first page is good info, but not everything as they want you to buy the rest.