Pelvic floor and Diastatis Recti

As a mum, pelvic floor and diastatis recti are 2 terms you might be fairly familiar with already. Both are something all mums (especially new ones) need to be aware of and vigilant with when embarking on any fitness plan. Remember, to get started on the program I ask that you are at least 6 weeks postpartum (natural delivery) and at least 12 weeks postpartum if you had a C-section. The most important thing, no matter what stage you are at, is for you to ensure you have your doctor’s clearance before you begin.

Here I fill you in on all of the fun facts about the pelvic floor and diastsis recti; what the issues are, how to know if you have them and how to modify your program to work around either, or both.

Pelvic floor (PF)

Depending on many factors including your age, stage of motherhood, your pregnancy and birth experiences, the number of children you have and several other factors; you may experience varying degrees of pelvic floor issues. From your own experiences you might already be well aware of what your body and pelvic floor are capable of when it comes to exercise and that is great!

If you aren’t quite sure, don’t worry I have you covered. Below is a little information on the pelvic floor, what to look out for, and how to work within your limits throughout this program.

What is the Pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that form the base of your core muscles; it’s a bit like a sling that holds everything in place. The pelvic floor works along side your tummy muscles, back muscles, and diaphragm to help support your spine and your abdomen. As the name would suggest your pelvic floor also supports your pelvic organs, and plays a large part in bladder and bowel control.

 The sure fire ways to tell you have a problem pelvic floor:

  • Leaking urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
  • Needing to go to the toilet urgently / not making it to the toilet in time
  • Needing to go to the toilet frequently
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder / bowel
  • A prolapse
  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Poor sensation or loss of bladder control during sexual intercourse.

The test:

Here at HMP I have a great little test I complete to assess the strength of the Pelvic Floor. You can do this test in the comfort of your own home. If you have no issues at all when completing the test, you are good to go girl! If you do find you have difficulty with the test, no problem; I have you covered with program modifications. Here is the test:

Simply complete 10 starburst jumps in quick succession, one immediately following the other. If you manage to complete 10 in a row with no bladder weakness, pain or an urgent need to go to the toilet – you have got this! If you do experience any of these issues, please follow all pelvic floor modifications throughout the program and continue with kegal exercises. If you have no idea what we are talking about when we say kegal exercises, it is a good idea to consult a specialised physiotherapist who can help you with this.

So what exercises should I avoid if I do have Pelvic Floor issues?

I have written the programs workouts with the pelvic floor at the forefront of my mind and most of the exercises in the program will be suitable. If the workout does include exercises that aren’t suitable, I have included modification options. You will see these exercises marked with an ‘*’ and the modifications can be found, here. I suggest you print the modifications and keep it on hand for when you are completing your workouts.

Diastasis Recti (DR)

Depending on many factors including your stage of motherhood, your pregnancy and birth experiences, the number of children you have and various other factors, you may have diastasis recti. If this is the case there are some things that you need to be aware of.

If you aren’t quite sure what diastasis recti is or if you have it, don’t worry I have you covered. Below is a little information on DR, how to know if you have it, and how to work within your limits throughout this program.

What is Diastasis Recti (RD)?

Also referred to as rectus or abdominal separation, diastasis recti is the separation of the 2 sections of the Rectus Abdominis (your 6 pack) muscle. Diastasis recti is very common, especially in mummys who have had larger or multiple babies.

The research shows that all women will develop some degree of separation in the third trimester of their pregnancy. The issue for a lot of women is that if this is left untreated postpartum it can remain for 12 months +.

When you have diastasis recti the structures of tissue that form the meeting point of the 2 sides of the rectus abdominis no longer provide the tension and stability it did prior to the separation occurring. The lack of protection and stability affects the whole body both aesthetically and functionally, which is why we need to modify certain exercises.

The sure fire signs you have a DR, are:

  • ‘Pooching’ or ‘doming’ of your stomach
  • Appearing a few months pregnant.
  • A weak core (and pelvic floor),
  • A lack of strength and stability in the entire pelvic region and midsection.

The test:

Here at HMP I have a great little test I complete to assess if you have DR. You can do the test at home. If you have no issues at all when completing the test, you are good to go girl! If you do find you have some form of separation when you have completed the test, no problem. We have you covered with our exercise modifications. Here is the test:

Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Relax your head and shoulders and place your fingers (palm down) just above your belly button.

Lift your head and neck very slightly off the floor and press down with your fingertips. If you feel a gap (separation), that’s the diastasis. You will feel the muscles close in around your fingers as you lift your head and neck. Repeat the test directly over the belly button, and then a couple of inches below.

A diastasis recti gap is measured in finger widths. If you find you have a 1-2 finger gap or less, that’s super common and you are good to go, with modifications. If your separation is 2-finger widths or more you can still commence the program, however I suggest you also go to see a physiotherapist to have this addressed professionally.

So what exercises should I avoid if I do have DR issues?

Diastasis recti and pelvic floor problems tend to go hand in hand and that is why our exercise modification guide has you covered for both. As with pelvic floor modifications, you will see unsuitable exercises marked with an ‘*’ and the modifications can be found, here. We suggest you print these modifications and keep them on hand for when you are completing your workouts.

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