The Healthy Post Natal Body Podcast

Stop wearing belly binders, and doing other stupid things, to heal your diastasis recti

November 21, 2021 Peter Lap
The Healthy Post Natal Body Podcast
Stop wearing belly binders, and doing other stupid things, to heal your diastasis recti
Show Notes Transcript

 This week I'm talking about stupid things people do to heal their diastasis recti.

From bellybinders and Peloton bikes to do Instagram workouts and asking your GP for surgery on the NHS.
As my teachers always used to tell me "You're only wasting your own time" and time is that one resource we only have a limited supply of. The longer you mess about trying things that just don't work the more difficult you'll make it to recover when you finally try the things that do.

In the News this week; Have you ever been told that losing weight is impossible in the long run? Well, this study tells us why people fail. It has nothing to do with it being impossible to keep weight off. It's all about people not being given the guidance they need once the weight is off and by people not paying attention to their diet anymore after a few years. (And by diet I don't mean weightloss, I mean what they eat)

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Playing us out this week; "Ocean" by  Emorie (Yes, they're back!!)

Hey, welcome to the Healthy Postnatal Body Podcast with your post-natal expert Peter Lap. That, as always, would be me! Today I am joined by Peggy and Buddy. They're just kicking back and relaxing whilst I talk to you all by my lonesome, and we're talking about stupid things that you keep doing or keep being advised to do by other people to help heal your diastasis recti. It's one of those episodes where I just go over some of the stupid things I've come across and it'll be fun, I promise. Right. Here we go.


Hey, welcome to the Healthy Postnatal Body Podcast. This is the podcast for, what are we today, the 21st November and I had a little thing planned for today, but we're pushing that out by a couple of weeks because that's the kind of guy I am. 

Now, I do have a new set up just for people who have been listening for a while.

 I have a little bit of a new setup that I'm messing about with a bit, so hopefully there will be less clicking. You can hear my mouse less as I move stuff about. There will be less problems with the sound and all that sort of thing. So fingers crossed, fingers crossed, it will all go well.

I hope you're well, it's a beautiful day in Edinburgh today. It's a lovely, lovely, sunny day. I had just had all five puppies out for a walk. And Buddy and Peggy have joined me in the little room whilst I record this little thing for the next hour or so. It'll be a half hour show. It just takes me an age to do when I'm by myself because I keep screwing things up and that is the way of the world. 

So what am I talking about today? Well, I wanted to start by talking about belly binders and all that sort of stuff because I came across another thing that someone sent to me. When I come across stuff it's stuff that one of you beautiful people sends to me and says, Do I really need to listen to the advice that I've just been given? One of the pieces of advice that somebody was given was, “oh, you have diastas recti. You should wear a belly binder”.

No, just no. You do not want to wear a belly binder. I think I've gone over this before. I've definitely written about this before in one of the blogs. 

The problem with belly binders and corsets and wraps and all that sort of stuff. What is it? The posture corrector, that sort of stuff, is that they can give you some temporary relief. That is kind of what they're meant for. If you wear them either whilst you're training or you wear them in the expectation that they help heal anything, then I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. Because diastasis recti is fundamentally muscular problem. It doesn't matter what kind of diastasis recti you have. It's fundamentally the same solution. Right. Whether you have open navel, completely open or above navel or below navel doesn't really matter much. Fundamentally, it's a muscular problem, and muscles are not helped by just holding them in place. Right? 

Muscle weakness and muscle dysfunction is not helped by just holding a muscle in a certain place and then hoping that it will automatically kick in and then do its thing. That is just not how it works

. If you wanted a stronger bicep, it doesn't matter if you bend your arm the whole time, so that biceps is constantly in that contracted position. All that does is shorten the bicep because it learns to not lengthen anymore, and it learns to not function properly anymore. This is where a lot of people's pelvic floor problems also come from, which I'll get to in a little bit. So if you do this now; you bend your right arm and you feel that your bicep is shorter and maybe sticks out a little bit, depending on how big your guns are. Right? If you just hold that there forever, so to speak, for a long time… for hours in a row, all that does is force that muscle to stay tight. What it doesn't do is strengthen that muscle. And the problem you have with diastasis recti is that your muscle isn't strong, your muscles aren't strong enough and that they're not functioning properly. 

Part of the function of the old bicep is to be to lengthen and then be able to shorten. Right? 

Just holding a bicep in position doesn't do that. And that is kind of the equivalent of what a belly binder does. Yes, it squeezes stuff in position, but it doesn't strengthen the muscle, so it won't help heal your diastasis recti. 

In addition to that, you're creating several problems. First of all, by using a belly binder or a wrap or whatever, you're increasing the pressure on your pelvic floor. Right? Think of it like squeezing a balloon, a fully inflated balloon. If you squeeze in the middle, that means that there's more pressure at the top and at the bottom. Right. So if you do that, if you squeeze in the middle, you squeeze your core tighter, so to speak, by using an external thing, such as a wrap or a belly binder. That means that you're putting more pressure on your pelvic floor and making that significantly worse. And we've spoken about this before, that the pelvic floor is instrumental in functioning in the proper function of your core. Because everything is connected, right? 

So we have to make sure that we're not making that significantly worse, especially if we know that the solution we're implementing doesn't actually help fix our original problem. And the same kind of goes for when you wear weightlifting belts in the gym. I've always said weightlifting belts…”yawn” Sorry, as I yawned my way through that. 

Weightlifting belts are for people who are trying to set personal weightlifting records only! That is the only time you should wear one. You should not be doing it when you do anything other than trying to beat Eddie Hall's deadlift record or trying to win a strong man competition. Only on competition days or really intense training days. Weightlifting belts do not help you lift heavier. They help you cheat, but they don't help you lift heavier. They teach you bad form in almost all circumstances. They teach your body to not function properly and not engage your core properly. And that's a bad thing to teach your body.

If you teach your body to not use a muscle properly when that is how your body should be functioning. If you teach your body not to use a muscle when it should be using that muscle, you're teaching your body to not function well. And it's a surefire way to train yourself to injury. 

And I've seen a lot of guys at the gym doing Kettle Bell swings, which is fundamentally a core exercise with a weight lifting belt on. By core, by the way, I include the glutes in that, right. So if you disengage your core or you have something else to do the work of the core because you're trying to protect your back or something silly like that, then you're not using then I don't know why you're then doing that exercise. If you are scared that an exercise will cause you injury. 

So in other words, your core isn't strong enough for you to do 100 or 150 kilogram deadlift or a big squat, then you need to drop the squats and start doing different exercises

If you have a particular weakness, in this case, your core and it's not strong enough to support your squats. Then what you should be doing is stop squatting or start squatting a bit lighter and do core specific rehab exercises to help strengthen your core up to the level that you need it to function. Anything else is just stupid. Anything else doesn't make any sense. I see this so much.

 I came across this again today when someone said; “I used to do diastasis recti exercises, on the MuTu system in this case, and they really, really helped. I stopped doing them because I started doing…” I'm not going to name mention this in the name of this product, but it's a “diastasis recti safe” weight loss thing. “I started doing those workouts and I don't have time to do MuTu anymore. So my diastasis recti is still there. But you know, what can you do?”

And that is just not the way to train. You have to fix your weaker areas before you do anything else. Because if you don't, you're going to run into trouble later on. And that's kind of what I wanted to talk about a little bit. So I've heard a couple of things that they came across, so we discussed belly binders, which you shouldn't do. Peloton bikes.


Yeah, I know peloton is wonderful, and they're really popular. I'm going to say wonderful. They're very slick spin classes. So there's nothing wrong with Peloton, but it does nothing for your diastasis recti. So why are you doing it right? It's definitely not going to help you with your diastasis recti. What might help heal your diastasis recti is losing a bit of weight. Of course, if you're overweight or obese, in a…let’s say not just post-partum related obese way. So not just baby weight. Then losing weight and all that sort of stuff will alleviate pressure on your core. A lot of the times a big round belly has to do with visceral fat, fat around the organs, and therefore, in those cases, losing a bit of weight definitely helps. 

And Peloton bikes, yes, a spin-class helps with that. And it's great for your cardiovascular system, but it doesn't heal your diastasis recti. 

Another thing I came across is someone keeps sending this to me and God love you. They're saying that. What do you think of “getmomstrong” on Instagram? I don't mind getmomstrong. I think it's fine. There's a lot of useful information there. But I think she would agree with me, because I don't know the woman who runs the show there. I think she would agree with me. She would agree with me that just doing her random workouts, that she posts on Instagram. I believe she has a fitness program, right, that she sells.

But just doing her random Instagram workouts will not heal your diastasis recti, and is completely unsuitable for most people to do. And that is one of the better Instagram things out there. But if you just do random exercises and I've spoken about this before, I can give you probably top of my head 200 exercises that are useful to help heal diastasis recti. 

And that's just top of head. There's probably 800 or a thousand more, and I can put them together in a way that you have an infinite number of workouts. I can create so much with that all of them would technically help heal your diastasis recti. IF YOU did them all at the right time in the right order. if you don't do them at the right time at the right order, you're probably going to make your diastasis recti worse. And you'll hinder your postnatal recovery. And, without tooting me old horn and all that sort of stuff, I really know what I'm doing when it comes to postpartum training. 

So I really know what I'm doing with regards to giving people exercises to do. And I don't post random workouts on Instagram for exactly that reason. Because people keep saying, then just do one of XYZ workouts. And that is just not how postpartum, of any sort of rehab exercise, works. I came across something today that Jess sent to me where she was told/what she saw as advice. Someone said, “I know I shouldn't do any crunches. What else should I do?”

The response was; “No crunches are safe to do”, which is true, right? If you do them properly, crunches are completely safe to do if you do them properly and your body is ready for it. No one will ever convince me otherwise unless there's a new study that comes out. So crunches are completely safe to do so at that point, she was right. 

And then the person said, I recommend “doing a minimum of 15 crunches and I'm building it up. I recommend trying to do 15 in a row and then building it up from there.”

And I just said, no. See, that's the problem. You have one bit of information and then you add something that is complete nonsense, complete horseshit, to that statement. So although crunches are safe to do, starting with 15 doesn't make any sense. How many crunches are you building up to? 100? What are you trying to do by doing the crunches? Because they sure shit won't fix your diastasis recti. Again. crunches are safe to do, but they will not heal your diastasis recti. So why are you doing them? And why are you starting with 15? That's a random number to start with. No self-respecting personal trainer ever starts by having clients do 15 repetitions of an exercise. 

There's a reason we're doing ten and I know that bodybuilders will go, “hey, ten is for hypertrophy.” Yeah, but that's not why we're doing ten. We're doing ten sets of one. I talk about this a lot. 

I want one good exercise and I want ten repetitions of one good exercise and we're starting with again, muscle activation. And then we're putting some strength and conditioning. 15 reps, that’s conditioning stuff? That's endurance stuff. So building up from there, that's like saying, I'm trying to get my legs to get ready to run again. What should I do? Well, start by running a marathon and then build up from there. 

You just don't. It is insane to start that way. 

Another thing,what other thing that we come across. Oh, yeah. Ask your GP for surgery on the NHS. So this is all genuine stuff that I have seen and I have had people emailing me other stuff, usually screenshots. So if you come across something, If you have any sort of thing that you see, send me a little screenshot if you think, “Hey, Peter is this is right?”

I'm always happy to answer any emails. That's kind of what I do, right? They sent the screenshot and said, yeah,” I have diastasis recti. I've had it for six years. Apparently, I've just been diagnosed with it. What should I do?” “You should ask for your GP for surgery on the NHS”, and this again is no. The answer to that is just no. What you should do is your exercises

Exercise heals diastasis recti in 99% of all cases, and it helps heal diastasis recti in 100% of all cases. Exercise always helps when it comes to muscular problems or muscular injuries like this. Now. It doesn't mean that in that 1% of all cases you don't need surgery. But the vast majority of people that have diastasis recti simply do not need surgery. That is just the way it is and for you to go and bother your GP saying, “I think I need surgery because I can't be bothered to do the exercise”s and that is the implication, right? That is what it is. You can either can't be bothered doing the exercises. You can't be bothered seeing the physio. You can't be bothered to book a personal trainer. If you don't have the money for it, then I get that you can't book a personal trainer, then you need to invest time. It is that simple. You have two choices. When it comes to diastasis recti, do the exercises with a professional and that can be one on one or that can be online. It can be whatever. 

And if you can't afford to do that, look up how to do it properly. Go to Listen to the podcast, read the blogs, go to other websites, other websites are available, and see what you actually need to do. 

But what it requires is time.

 I had an email from someone the other day saying “I went to the physio. They told me to do exercises. I don't have time to do exercises. What can I do?” Well, nothing! You can sit on the couch and watch it get worse. That's all you can do. If you cannot be bothered to do the exercises, then there is no help for you. The NHS is quite right in saying that the £5000, that's what the surgery cost, is wasted on you and should be spent on other things than your laziness.

 I'll be very blunt about this because that is what it is. It is your laziness that stops somebody else…. The NHS has a finite amount of money and your laziness stops somebody else getting cancer treatment and that is ridiculous. That is offensive and that is insane and it should not happen. So do your exercises. I'm really, really kind of fed up with people saying “I want surgery”. 99% of cases do not need surgery. You just don't. You need to do the exercises. You need to do them properly. 

And don't tell me that I saw a physio six years ago and it didn't work because, either you saw a shitty physio, which is possible, they are out there. You saw a generic physio, which is possible, they are out there and they won't help. But what you didn't do is your exercises and you didn't put your time in.

 I guarantee you I have yet to have a client, genuinely PT or online. I genuinely have to have a client that puts the time in that puts the work and that doesn't get results. That needs surgery. I have never had a client still need surgery and I've seen 52, 54 year old women come to me who've had diastasis recti for 25 years. And they come to me and after a few months of hard work, admittedly it's hard work and admittedly it sucks and admittedly you need to change your diet and you need to put effort in and that bites. And it's not pleasant to have to do that. Surgery might as well sound easier because at least you don't have to do anything yourself for it other than take a tremendous amount of time off afterwards. Time off work afterwards and be in pain for quite a while. Other than that, it's a lot easier. You have to wait for years and be in pain for years. If you're just doing the exercises and eating right for diastasis recti. So again, that is not a weight loss thing necessarily, but eating right for diastasis recti, you don't drink too much again, it's a diastasis recti. Then your diastasis recti will heal. It will. And you should not be bothering other people with it. So to tell other people that you need surgery or it always requires surgery, or often it requires surgery. It's just not true. And the problem with that is if you get told that that's what you need, you go see your GP about this. You're basically on a long waiting list, only to be told to “go away, you're not getting it” You can wait a year and a half and you won't get it. You can wait two years.

I've been in touch with women who have waited four years on the NHS and then they get told, “No, you're not getting any surgery. Go away!” Which is the right answer for them! Go away. But now they're four years down the line. They've not put any effort in. They've been walking around with back pain, all that sort of core problems, weak pelvic floors for four years, and they've done nothing to resolve that issue because they were hoping that the NHS would fix it for them. 

NHS nine out of ten times will not give you free surgery, and that's the right thing for them to do. The NHS should not be funding most diastasis recti surgeries. It's insane that people think that they should. 

This is fixable. This is something that you can fix, and it should not take resources away from people that have severe health conditions. So like I said, if you wait four years, you're in pain for four years, you're in discomfort for four years, and it then takes longer to fix your problem. 

Because the longer you wait with this stuff, the longer you leave a situation like this unattended to, the longer it takes to fix and the more work you have to put in. That is just the way it is. 

So again, if you could stop being told, stop telling people that it needs surgery, then that would be a bit of a bonus. Right! That’s my little rant done. Those are the things I came across this week. And that is just this week. 

Just a quick summary. Exercise always helps. Just do your exercises. That's all you need to do for diastasis recti. Just get your exercise in. It'll be fine. I promise. This stuff is fixable. This stuff is always fixable with exercise and diet. So why would you not do it? It baffles me. It genuinely baffles me that you can feel better in about three months. For most people, it's a three-month thing where you just do the exercises and you eat as best you can for diastasis recti and you eat healthy, which is something you want to do anyways. 

You look better, you'll feel better, you feel stronger, you feel more secure. You won't have pelvic floor problems anymore. You won't look pregnant anymore. Your belly will feel better and tighter. You'll feel more confident and you'll be healthier for it. Those are just eight or nine things, the benefits. And all you have to do is do a strength session twice a week and some daily exercises, which takes ten minutes. This is why gives three months free trial to everybody. Because within us three months you can get the results you want. And I think this sort of stuff should be available to everybody without them paying them the earth or costing them the earth, cost being an obstacle. So cost isn't an obstacle anymore for you to fix your diastasis recti, right? I also don't want to hear. Yeah, I'm saving up for diastasis recti surgery on the NHS. If you can afford that, you can afford a personal trainer and you should hire the personal trainer in every single case. 

That is what your starting point is. Spend £700 or £1000 with a PT for 24 sessions and see what the results they can get you. I think you'll be amazed. Anyway, that is me done for the week.

Let's have a look at what's in the news this week. Yes. So in the news this week I came across a little study which talks about the maintenance of lost weight and long term management of obesity. There is a lot of stuff floating around online about how it's impossible to keep weight off in the long run, “95% of all diets fail” and all that sort of stuff.

And this study was published a little while ago 2019, I think, and clearly shows that the reason for that is that people who have lost a lot of weight tend not to implement sustainable healthful behaviour, is what they call it, positive weight regulation, so they don't getting any clinical attention, weight management, specific counselling and all that sort of stuff a few years after losing weight.

 So it's usually you go on a diet for six months and after those six months, the diet slips a bit and that’s fine. And then you think you switch into maintenance. But then the old bad habits creep in for one reason or the other. And that is what this study very clearly shows, so it's nothing to do with it being impossible to lose weight.

It is just one of those things that you need to keep paying attention to the weight. It's frightfully simple, right? I'm a size 32 long and jeans, and if the jeans start to feel a bit tight, then I need to put a bit of effort in and need to tighten my diet up a little bit. That is all it is. That is what you need to keep doing. If you then go back to your old habits and just ignore that sort of stuff, that's why people gain weight back. 

It's nothing to do with constantly being on a diet or constantly needing to eat for weight loss or constantly needing to be doing a keto diet or any of that sort of stuff. It is just you need to be still paying attention and you cannot go back to your old habits. This is why so many dietitians now, even when they say “anti-diet dietitians”, they're still diet dietitians, right? They're full of shit. Any dietitian that does a weight management is a diet dietitian. Clue is very much in the title there, even if they fix your relationship with food as they like to call it now. That is the essential bit. If you're emotionally eating too much and all that sort of stuff, if you have a destructive relationship with food, then that needs worked on. But fundamentally, what that boils down to is teaching you how to manage things properly later on. 

That is what this study very clearly shows that, if you know how to deal with things properly later on and you rein yourself in, in a healthy way, then weight can definitely be kept off indefinitely. And formerly obese or morbidly obese people can always go back to a much healthier weight, but they need a bit of extra help. And it is not that it's impossible to do. So it's just that people don't get the help they need or don't want the help they need. 

Don't want to admit that they need help and they start lying to themselves about saying, “I'm happy being over the obese and all that sort of stuff”, right? Studies very clear. I will link to it because that's what I do. That's the podcast for this week. Here's a new bit of music. Next week. We have interviews again. I did a wonderful interview , just before I go. I did a wonderful, wonderful interview with Jessica from runpainfreenow. Man, you're going to love her energy. That'll be next week. She absolutely crushed it. It's so nice to have a top level nerdy expert on the program. I love these guys. So that's coming up next week. In the meantime, you'll be the music of course. Give us a like and subscribe if you can, and I'll be back next week. Bye. Now