In May of 2012, I started to notice that my belly was not going away after having my twins in February of 2011. I know that our bodies change after pregnancy, especially when you have three pregnancies in a span of 5 years. However, something was just not sitting right with me about my belly, so I started to do some investigating.
As I researched, I came across my answer—diastasis recti. What? Exactly! In all my ten plus years in the fitness world I had never heard of this. The more I researched, the more curious, frustrated, and even angry I became. A diastasis recti is the separation of the rectus abdominis (the “six pack” muscle, which is really an eight pack or – according to Lego Batman – a nine-pack). When this occurs, the integrity of the core has been lost and weakened.
When I first started working on closing my diastasis recti and finding my core strength again, I started with these steps.
Step 1: Learn how to get up and down from the floor without stressing the rectus abdominal muscles. This meant instead of sitting straight up from the floor, I rolled to my side and used my arms to press myself up to sitting.
Step 2: Change my entire mindset on abdominal strengthening and avoid/stop doing many things I thought strengthened my abs. This pretty much meant putting a pause on all core work until I could understand which muscles were working and if they supported my core health, or not. Two exercises I let go of and have never brought back are crunches and sit-ups.
Step 3: Change my alignment. I started positioning my pelvis over my heels and stopped pushing my rib cage forward.
Step 4: Find my transverse abdominal muscles and start working them (Yes, even my experience and training as a Pilates Instructor failed to teach me this).
Step 5: Accept the fact that developing proper core strength takes time.
Step 6: Be patient and keep working.
I hope this encourages and inspires you to keep working on strengthening your core. It is NOT a lost cause. If you want to learn more about how to strengthen your core, or are interested in becoming a Holy Yoga Yogalates Instructor, please go to: https://holyyoga.net/training/yogalates/