Getting Your Flat Stomach Back After Babies
You’d be forgiven if your plan to obliterate your post-baby belly fat involved daily crunches and a seven-day juice diet. It seems the sensible option, right? Drastic times etc. But how would you feel if I told you you were taking the wrong approach?
Many women haven’t heard of diastasis recti, but if you’ve given birth it’s likely you’ll have experienced it at some point.
Diastasis recti is the term often used to describe a separation of two or three fingers between the abdominal muscles. It occurs during pregnancy when the uterus grows and stretches the surrounding muscles of the abdomen, leaving a thin band of connective tissue to hold the organs in place. Unfortunately, diastasis recti is the reason many women are left with a stubborn post-baby pooch around their midriff.
Mind The Gap
If you’re unsure whether you have diastasis, you can check yourself. The easiest way to do this is to lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Lift your head and neck slightly off the floor and press your fingers down into your belly button (you need to press quite hard). If you can feel a gap this is the diastasis. You should try the same method both above and below your bellybutton as many women have different sized gaps in these places.
Squeeze - Don't Crunch
If you find a gap it’s not all bad news; the process can be at least partly reversed. However, contrary to popular belief this shouldn’t involve endless crunches or intense ab exercises. In fact, crunches can often exacerbate the problem and cause more harm than good.
Instead, you should try and focus on strengthening some of the smaller muscles to help pull them back into place and build abdominal strength. Squeezing your abdominal muscles while you’re in a seated position is a great exercise to start, as are bridges or head lifts which don’t involve stomach squashing movements. Squats or press-ups against a wall are also great for activating your core, as are any exercises where you are positioned on your hands and knees.
If you’re still wondering why crunches are a no no, try to think about the movement involved. To do a crunch you lift your body up which increases the pressure within your abdominal area, pushing the organs out and down – both directions that you don’t want them to be moving!
If you are determined to get abs, or at least to get rid of some puffiness around your midriff, you really do need to work from the inside out. Give these exercises a go, be patient and say goodbye to that diastasis!