The Healthy Post Natal Body Podcast

More diastasis recti myths than you can shake a stick at.

August 22, 2021 Peter Lap
The Healthy Post Natal Body Podcast
More diastasis recti myths than you can shake a stick at.
Show Notes Transcript

This week I'm talking about some silly, inaccurate and downright stupid things I have had sent my way this week.

Courtesy of Jess, without whom I would have significantly less to talk about and get loads less done, I bring you the following myths;

1; Diastasis Recti is a life long condition.
2; You can completely close the gap between your stomach muscles.
3; Having a gap between your stomach muscles ALWAYS means you have diastasis recti.

4; A flat stomach means you don't have diastasis recti.
5; You can never get a flat stomach again post-partum.
6; Some people can never get a flat stomach no matter what they do.

7; You should avoid twisting your body if you have diastasis recti.
8; Some exercises will always make diastasis recti worse.
9; Some exercises will heal ANY diastasis recti.

10; Diaphragmatic breathing is the correct way to breathe to heal diastasis recti.

And, of course, diastasis recti can not be healed with exercise and diet.

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Hey, welcome to the Healthy Post Natal Body podcast with your postnatal expert Peter Lap and that as always, would be me. Today it's the gift that keeps on giving; diastasis recti myths, everybody! So many have crossed my desk again, thanks to the ever wonderful Jessica Thrower. The machine that is Jess Thrower has very kindly sent me some things over that I didn't know were myths. Apparently this stuff is being discussed on the forums. It makes me cry a little. There's some new ones. I promise you, you won't have heard some of these before, but you might believe some of these. So it'll be a good one to listen to, even if you've listened to 120 previous episodes of the podcast. We're also talking diaphragmatic breathing. For those of you who are interested in that sort of stuff, it'll be fun, I promise. Here we go. 

Here we are with podcast for the 21 August 2021. I hope you're well, I hope you're absolutely crushing it. I hope you had a great week. Some of if you're staying in Scotland, some of the kids will be back in school. Hey, if you're staying in England, some will be going back to school next week. Andi f you're doing in America, I have no idea what you're doing because I don't follow the school system in America too much. What I do know, however, is that you're all lovely people for listening to the podcast. Well, I have all my four fluffiess here, Red and my three puppies. You'll be very pleased to know that Kitty is absolutely crushing it. She managed the stairs this week so she can go up the stairs and down the stairs. And that means I don't have to wake up in the middle of the night to let her out anymore. How awesome is that? How nice is that? It only took a month, which is not that long for a rescue puppy. So like I said, the gift that keeps on giving diastasis recti. There's some really interesting myths that have been coming up this weekend. And yes, kindly sent them to me. Like I said before, she hangs out on diastasis recti support forums because she gets something from that. As I always say, a support forum is a wonderful thing. Any support system is a wonderful thing. As long as you just get support there, I wouldn't get my advice from there. This is one of those sort of episodes that I think;" yeah, that's kind of proven point a little bit". If you have diastasis recti, please go see a professional or follow a professional program. I've always said this, don't just hang out on support forums hoping for the best and do what those people tell you. You can go into the support forums, of course, and ask for what other people are using. But then again, you also have to say, is it working for these people? Right. I see a lot of recommendations for the same program I'm not going to name names crop up from people who have had diastasis recti for two to three years. And you know, I don't know. I have no clients, no members that have been with me for two to three years that still have diastasis recti. I have no clients or members that have been with you for eight or nine months that still have diastasis recti. If you do the exercise, you won't have diastasis recti that long after starting training. So if somebody recommends a program two years into the recovery and they still have diastasis recti the program is probably not that good, that's all I'm saying. So when you ask for recommendations as to what other people are doing, ask them if it helped them. Right? Now, don't just say, what would you recommend I do?. What program would you recommend I follow? But also, does it work for you? If the answer for them is "no", then what the hell are you recommending it for? Having said that, if you do the Healthy Post Natal Body program and you could recommend it to other people, that would be much, much, much appreciated. The same for the podcast, right. If you could just let people know your listening, share a link, give us a like, give us a review, give us us five stars sort of thing on Apple podcast, apps or whatever it's called. It really, really helps for every new recommendation we get. If a new member that signs up that takes the three months completely free trial, the better it is. First, because it gets our numbers up a little bit and that's always nice. It's a numbers game at the end of the day. Right? Right. So what are we talking today? Diastasis recti! I've actually have it kind of prepared.

Diastasis recti, what is it? Is what I'll go with first. We have to stop talking about diastasis recti as just being the gap or doming of the stomach. If I hear that once more, I will lose my shit properly. (As Buddy drinks all the water in the background because you know, that's what he likes to do when I'm on the podcast.) Diastasis recti is again, repeat after me; The width of the gap, the depth of the gap AND muscle functionality. Diastasis recti is fundamentally a muscular issue. It's weakness or dysfunction in the muscles. That is all it is. And that means, like almost all muscular issues, it can almost always be healed by exercise. And in the case of diastasis recti, because we have to manage internal pressure a little bit, diet also place a part, but exercise is key. Diastasis recti is not automatically resolved when you have a flat stomach again. I know loads of people that keep saying that "I never had diastasis recti. My stomach was flat eight or ten weeks post partum." That doesn't mean you don't have DR. It just means you have a flat stomach. The two things are not are not the same. Right? A round stomach does not equal diastasis recti automatically. And a flat stomach does not mean that you have good muscle functionality automatically. You can still have Diastasis Recti in the wide definition of the term, in the right definition of the term, and have a flat stomach. And I've done a podcast on this before. This is why women come in and say; "Oh, I didn't have it after my first, but I had it after my second.". It's a mistake to think that way, it will bite you in the bum... I guarantee it. So obviously, like I said, diastasis recti is a muscular issue, and that means that exercise and diet, to prevent bloating and unnecessary internal pressure, will really help everyone. Now, in some cases, it may take a lot longer than for others. If you start to recovery early postpartum or you've only had one kid and you immediately jump into Diastasis recovery exercises about six weeks postpartum. Then your recovery won't take as long as someone who's had four kids and is ten years postpartum. Right? But exercise ALWAYS helps. Even a plastic surgeon will tell you this. Exercise always helps. Unless, and even then to be fair, unless you have very, very severe diastasis recti. And most of you listening will not be anywhere near severe enough for exercise not to work. 

Right. Now; You can also almost always get a flat stomach. Both pre and post-partum. Right. But and this is a big but a flat stomach requires work. And I know I'm over pronouncing here. I'm rather big on elocution on these things, and I'm hammering the point home a bit. And I don't want to sound like a Jackass that's teaching you to suck eggs. But a flat stomach does not come naturally to almost anybody. There are some people who are genetically very lucky that they do.  They've always just had a flat stomach. And that's awesome. And there's nothing wrong with that. But even for people who have always had a slightly rounder stomach or have been slightly bigger, they can get a flat stomach. I'm not talking body fat percentage. I'm talking muscle-wise. Right? Your stomach can be flat. You have to do the right exercises in the right order at the right time, and you have to do those exercises. And in some cases, that will take a lot of work. Right. In some cases a flat stomach is a lot of effort. A six pack abs is always a lot of effort. But again, that's not really what we're talking about. But you have to ask yourself, Am I willing to put the work in and make the sacrifice required to get a flat stomach? The answer is no. Then awesome. Then you won't get a flat stomach just accept it. But it is a myth to say that people cannot get flat stomach. I can give everybody a flat stomach. It really isn't that that complicated a thing to do. Just the right exercises at the right time. What is required is, though, is a lot of determination and sacrifice. It might mean spending a bit more time in a gym. It might mean not eating food you want to eat because they bloat again, not talking weight loss, just talking bloating and all that sort of stuff. I'm talking about not drinking alcohol because it bloats. All that sort of stuff. You have to make sacrifices. If you're not willing to do that, then you won't get a flat stomach. If you are willing to do that, then everybody can get a flat stomach. It really is not impossible. Right? So next point. And I'm going to hammer through these a little bit; There are no exercises that everybody with diastasis recti has to avoid. There are no exercises. Let me repeat that slowly and again. I know some of you know this. There are no exercises that are always unsafe for EVERYBODY with diastasis recti. srunches, planks, Russian twists or oblique exercises. Any sort of twisting rotation movement are not, by their very definition, unsafe to do. They become unsafe when you are not yet strong enough to do them. Your body isn't functioning well enough to do them or you're doing them incorrectly. And I'm not saying that you are to blame for doing them incorrectly, but your body has to function properly. The right muscles have to fire at the right time to do the right exercise in the right way. I know it's a complicated sentence, but let me refer let me go over that again. The right muscles have to be working at the right time for you to do an exercise properly. So when we're thinking about exercises such as a squat, for instance, the squat is an exercise predominantly for the quads, for the front of your legs. However, if your glutes aren't functioning properly and if your core is weak or you're unstable and your pelvic floor isn't working properly, then the form of your squat will always be terrible. Or the squat will at least be more difficult to carry out. The right muscles.... if your glutes aren't firing up properly, the right muscles aren't firing up at the right time on the way back up, which is when your glutes should activate. They help stabilize and they engage at the top right?. I'm still a big fan of fully engaging glutes at the top of the squat. I notice some debate on this, but I still really like the way. A squat is a completely safe exercise to do when you do everything right. A crunch is a completely safe exercise to do for almost everybody with diastasis recti. IF they are strong enough to perform it correctly and they then do the crunch properly. There are also no exercises on the other side of the spectrum. There are no exercises that are safe for everyone to do, right? Because this is what it comes down to. There are no exercises that he'll help heal everybody's diastasis. It really depends on your personal situation, the severity of your diastasis recti, where in your recovery you are and all that sort of stuff. This is why I always say, you know, Post-partum everyone should see a women's health physio for one appointment, so they can say; I tell you where you are." This is also why in the HPNB program, we have been very clear on what we're trying to do here. Or I have been very clear on what we're trying to do. Where the first four to six weeks, the second four to six weeks and after that, and then splitting everything up. Right? This is why I talk about above naval below-naval, full open diastasis recti, as separate entities. Now, sure. In the beginning there are some base exercises for that we make everybody do that there for muscle activation. But that is to make sure that all the muscles activate properly. And when all the muscles activate properly, all the exercises, if the muscles are strong enough, will be safe to carry out afterwards. That's why we're so big on muscle activation in the beginning. If the right muscle fires at the right time any exercise is safe to do as long as you're strong enough to do that exercise, that is the basis of all diastasis recti recovery and is the basis of all good DR programs and all good post-natal programs. And again, I will give you a shout out of Wendy and MuTu. I know that system pretty well. They are also really big on this. Other systems may be less so or I'm not that familiar with them. I know there's also some terrible ones out there, but like I've said before, if you have £100 and you want to spend it on MuTu now, I'm not going to tell you not to, because that's a good program. Right? So we have no exercises that everybody with diastasis recti has to avoid, and we have no exercises that are safe for everybody to do or that will help heal everybody's. diastasis recti, Right. It is very much a personal thing, because the human body is so complicated. There are so many muscles involved. Everybody's body type is slightly different that if you really want to have a well thought out and well designed program. This is why you can't do YouTube clips, guys. You can't go on to the healthy post natal body YouTube channel. You should you should check it out. I mean, we post podcast excerpts and online now as well, but funny instal videos are in this. I think they're funny, right? You can't go on to our YouTube channel, grab a random set of exercises, put them together, and then go, Well, you should be fine. And this will work because that is just not how it goes. A program needs to go from A to B to C to D to E and blah, blah, blah. There's a clear line that has to be followed. The roads are laid out. Everything is mapped out in a good program. Randomly doing exercises, there is just no point. You're going to either injure yourself, you're going to make things work or worse, or you're not doing things that you should be doing. You're wasting your time. It's one of those three. Very rarely have I come across a program or a session on YouTube that was right at the right time for me even. And I am a middle aged white guy in reasonable shape. Whose muscles are all working properly and who can do whatever you want. But even if it's a Jeff Cavaliere program or strength session, I'm just playing around. If you do random YouTube stuff. That's what YouTube is good for. So it's playing about. It's good for, I suppose, for other people to show you what a program is made up of. But just randomly doing sessions to gets nobody anywhere. Right? So like I said, nothing is safe. Nothing is by definition unsafe to do. Secondly, 30, 40, 50. Wherever we are, wherever we are, the gap along the linea alba. So the diastasis recti gap, so to speak. Out with element of it; is always there, will always be there. And was always there, right? That gap can never, ever be completely closed because that is not how your muscles are put together. And again, I don't want to sound condescending, but you Regular listeners can tell,.... This is getting to me a little bit. Closing the gap is impossible because the gap was always there. You just weren't aware of it because you couldn't see it, you didn't feel it or you never checked it. This is why we always say; Gap wise when you're under 2 CM. The gap in diastasis recti is no longer an issue unless the gap happens to go really deep, because we now also measure gap depth. Or at least we think ...we know that that's an issue. Measuring that is difficult. Muscle functionality could well be a problem, so you could well still have diastasis recti, like I said before. But the width of the gap is no longer an issue. That element of it, under 2 CM no longer an issue! That gap was always there pre-natal. Go around and I'm not serious, although your women and it's probably easier, Go around any gym, bump into a 20 year old girl that has never had any kids and start poking her belly and see if there's a gap there along the linea alba. So from say, the solar plexus to the pubis. Just start randomly poking there and you'll find that there's a gap. This is why it's a six pack. This is how muscles split. The muscle doesn't rip and there's not one band of muscles. The muscles are we say six pack, eight pack, ten pack, depending on how you want to define that. But they always there is a left hand side on the right hand side, two groups of muscles. It is not one band across the front, so there's always a gap there so you can be within a range. You will never have that gap completely closed. Now, next, something I saw come up and this is really a biggie for me. Someone said that diastasis recti is a lifelong condition and this is simply not correct. Diastasis recti, like I said, is a muscular issue. Once a muscle is back to normal strength and functionality. You don't have diastasis recti anymore. End of discussion. Once a muscle works properly again and is strong again, you do not have diastasis recti anymore. The gap will be backed up normal range on all levels. The functionality is fine, so diastasis recti is fixed. This is the whole point of what we do. We fix diastasis recti. It's not like this will come back again five years later. Muscle weakness can, if you stop exercising, of course you'll get weaker, right? That's a no brainer. If you do lots of bicep exercises one day and you got massive arms and then you stop exercising altogether, those muscles will get weaker and you might be more prone to injuries again. Then you work beforehand when you had big, strong muscles. That's fundamentally diastasis recti will be fixed. Your biceps will still be working. You might get around better because you put more internal pressure on, but it doesn't mean if Di sauce is retiring. Very important. Dioceses retire can be fixed. Now, like I said before, I could always say a little caveat. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. And some women that have diastasis recti have genuinely required surgery. Right? Severe diastasis recti, and pelvic floor problems can cause real problems. And getting support for that sort of thing is important. So I always think that the support forums to serve a function. If nothing, then just to be able to talk about what you're going through. Right? However, in almost all cases, you do not need surgery, you just need to do the right exercises at the right time in the right order. And that brings me on to diaphragmatic breathing. Now this is something that comes up every now and again when we're talking core work for this is a personal trainer kind of thing. So I don't mind diaphragmatic breathing per se. I just don't think it's the most effective, necessarily. I think the focus of diaphragmatic breathing is not strong enough on the pelvic floor. Is not focused on the pelvic floor enough. So this is why I talk about the core breath much more than any sort of diaphragmatic sort of breathing. I don't mind it. And if your PT uses it, it's not wrong, but it doesn't help as much as they might think it does. Because the the issue that we find with most people postpartum is that the bit below their belly button. So the lower part of the core and the pelvic floor, that's where the weakness predominantly sits. So getting people to activate that bit is significantly more important than activating the diaphragm directly. Now, I know that that is kind of part of diaphragmatic breathing, but that's because they split it up into three parts. And I think the focus should be a bit more on that lower bit. So someone who says diaphragmatic breathing is what you should be doing. Yeah, kind of, but also kind of not. They're not wrong, but they're not 100%, right? Almost 80% there. It will help, but it won't be as effective as doing the core breath properly. Now, this is only for people both diastasis recti and pelvic floor issues if you don't have that diaphragmatic breathing is amazing because diaphragmatic breathing through exercise is extremely useful. It is pretty much exactly how the core should. Now the core should work when you're squatting and all that. The problem is that it doesn't necessarily help heal diastasis recti as effectively as you wanted to. So I'm not going to slag it off. I want to, but I'm not going to because I'm a nice guy, but it's not really where the focus should be. I've seen one or two manuals come across my desk recently. People send in saying, is this one I should be doing analysis? Yeah, I kind of know these manuals are kind of written by people who are good personal trainers who do a lot of good exercise work, but are not those parts of exercise specialists in any shape or form or nowhere near that. So that's why I would say you can probably just go to someone who knows what they're talking about. You you have a specific issue. Go to someone who knows how to fix that specific issue before you go back to the standard PT. Stuff like this is a specialization. I have been doing this for ten years, and I've been doing extremely little else for the past ten years. For those of you listening to the podcast and checking out some blogs. Every now and again, I read more studies than you can shake a stick at about health and find snippets of information. Unless somebody does that and spend their entire time delving into this stuff. They're just going to come up with the standard PT answers. And the standard PT answers are designed for standard fit as a fiddle people. People that are in okay shape that don't have any real issues, right? If I have shoulder problems, I go to a shoulder rehab specialist. I don't see a regular PT because the regular guy that our girl doesn't know what they're talking about, not well enough, at least to really help me effectively and efficiently. So when you're talking postpartum exercise. Deal with a postpartum exercise specialist such as myself or such as anyone else on the Health Post natal Body program. Anyway, that is it for the week for. I have done 28 minutes about this, and I would wish that it would be the last of the diastasis recti exercise and diastasis recti myth episodes. But we all know that that's not going to be the case, right? I'm doing some amazing interviews in the next week or two. It's gonna be great fun. I'm gonna be on some other podcast. I think I have the Kungfu Mamma podcast lined up next month as well. It's gonna be awesome. I love that one. That'd be great. In the meantime, using new bit of music, Peter and healthy post NATO body outcome. If you'd like to go on the podcast, if you have questions or comments, I want to call me a Jackass. Whatever. I like the engagement. That's what I'm going for, because that's the kind of guy am. Anyways, have a tremendous week, and I'll see you next week. Bye. Now,