DIY Friday: Diastasis Recti

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*Do it yourself! Every Friday we do a roundup of great posts, videos, or other resources around a theme that help people to turn their bodies from cranky to happy.*

Warning: This DIY Friday catches me mid-epiphany, so I'm not trying to play the expert here, I'm fully the student with you guys and am sorting some stuff out, but thought sorting it out in public would be helpful to many who are wondering about Diastasis Recti.

First, "Diasta-wuh-wuh?" Is probably what you're asking if you're a dude or a woman who's never had a baby. Though both men and women who haven't been pregnant do get this condition, it's rare, while in those of us who have been pregnant it is becoming alarmingly common.

DRBut wait, I didn't answer your question. Diastasis Recti is when your abdominal muscle, the rectus abdominus (the six pack muscle), splits lengthwise along the linea alba. Leaving you with a poochy belly and the look of someone is is now forever a little bit pregnant. I myself have a DR from my little bundle of joy, who is (gasp!) now 6 years old. In 6 years I've gotten the gap down from 3 fingers wide, to one finger wide just at my belly button. Good times.

**Note: Dudes, please stick around as the information I point to actually has a huge impact on preventing hiatal hernias, umbilical hernias, and inguinal hernias, many of which I see a lot in the athletic community. Also give this to your lady if there's a chance a bun will be or is in that oven.**

Since I've (mostly) rehabbed my DR a friend of mine recently asked what information she should give to a yoga student who is trying to close hers, and I handily sent her to The Tupler Technique, which is more or less what I have used. But, me being me, that got me thinking. Why do we all get DR's these days after having babies? I mean, it can't be normal to have your rectus abdominus split just from carrying one measly baby, right? In a day and age when women typically had far more children it just wouldn't have made sense. I can't see the evolutionary advantage, so it must be something wacky we're doing with our bodies in contemporary culture that's causing all of this.

And that question led me where these kinds of questions typically lead me, which is to Katy Bowman, Biomechanist Extraordinaire. Turns out she has some pretty mind blowing information on DR which has totally changed my point of view. I'll leave it to her in these posts since she says it far better than I can, but the short summary is that we're all blowing open our rectus abdominus in pregnancy because we're dealing with an abdomen under pressure which is a result of poor alignment and wacky breathing. Just what the poor alignment is (spoiler: stop thrusting your ribs forward, but there's plenty more), and just what that means about how you breathe is all in these posts. This information is really key to dealing with many of our modern issues (low back pain, high blood pressure, So. Much. More.), so give it a read.

Katy Bowman's Under Pressure Part 1

Katy Bowman's Under Pressure Part 2

So where does that leave me in my DR-having, Tupler Technique referring ways? And what about those of us who already have a DR? Well I think it's more complex than a "5 Quick Tips" type summary, as I think we need to address our alignment and breathing issues as Bowman illustrates in her posts, at the same time that we draw that musculature back together. Which means we're dealing with some high level tinkering that keeps us from using the standard, "pull it all in, pack it all in." mentality about our abdominals. While we work for integrity in abdominal musculature (i.e. actively engage those muscles to pull them back together) we need to also be really mindful to keeping things supple and mobile, rather than living in an imaginary corset. But I for one am up for the challenge. You?

P.S. Last week's post on DIY Psoas Love handily will address some of this stuff (tacked down breathing muscles, short and tight psoai, etc.)

P.P.S This post from Tom Myers may also prove illuminating.

Illustration from Healthy Moms Sheila S. Watkins