Many pregnant & post- natal women have heard stories about the “gap”(Diastasis ) that will appear in the tummy muscles. Many fear that they will have a ‘mummy tummy’ of flab after a baby & will exercise madly in the hope that they can prevent a gap occurring or to close it up quickly. Most don’t realize that it is important to target the right muscles to do this.
Basically your abdominal muscles have 2 important layers. The superficial “movers” & the deeper "stabilisers".
Finding the gap
Rectus Abdominus is the most superficial of the “movers’. It stretches apart to accommodate the growth of the baby in pregnancy & creates the "gap" that you have heard about. To find yours - lie down with your knees bent & feet on the floor & push 3 fingers deeply across the navel. When you lift your head up you can feel the 2 bellies closing in towards the centre. It may be relieving to see that it comes closer together but keep in mind that the first width you feel is where your muscles generally sit at rest.
What exercises are best
Does your tummy come up to a bulge down the centre when you do this test, or cough, or lift, or laugh or try crunches? This is because you are increasing the pressure within your abdomen & this is pushing out through the gap in your muscles. So.... Sit ups are not the answer to keep your gap to a minimum.close.
The deeper layer of tummy muscles is often called the core. These muscles synchronise to hold & support our body & distribute the forces when we are active. Imagine the area between the Diaphragm & the pelvic floor as a soft compressible ball contained by these “core” muscles. If you push on the ball in one direction it will tend to distort towards the weakest parts. In pregnant & post-natal women this will be towards the gap & the smaller pelvic Floor.
The job of the core muscles is to contain & moderate this pressure change. They have been stretched in the pregnancy just like the superficial muscles, so are not as efficient as before.
These are the muscles you need to focus upon. Forget about the burn you are after with crunch like exercises – focus on your core!
If you have no idea what core exercises are, we can help. We can assess, give you advice & plan an exercise program based on your strengths.
You can book an appointment online through this website.