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pp exercises for separated stomach muscles

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HELLOJELLO
Posts: 768
7/25/05 2:04 P

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Thank you so much for your replies. I am definitely not scared of working hard :) In fact, I have always enjoyed working out. It's very encouraging to hear that this problem can be solved through exercise. I will talk to my ob tomorrow about possibly consulting with a physical therapist even during pregnancy.

Thanks again!


My husband and I now have 3 little girls -- ages 4 and 5, plus another little one who joined us on Dec. 21st!
CATHY_CRAM_MS
Posts: 9448
7/23/05 3:05 P

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I second Sara's response-it's never too late to strengthen your abdominal muscles, but it does require patience and the correct exercises. I also highly recommend you consult with a physical therapist who specializes in women's health. A PT will help to make sure you do the exercises correctly and tailor your treatment to your needs.



Catherine is the co-author of "Exercising Through Your Pregnancy" with Dr. James Clapp, and author of Fit Pregnancy For Dummies, published by Wiley Publishing in 2004. To learn more about these books or buy them online you can find them on www.amazon.com.

Cathy also provides Prenatal & Postpartum Fitness Information and certification courses to Healthcare Professionals. Click here to learn more.

HELLOJELLO
Posts: 768
7/23/05 2:10 P

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Sara, thank you so much for the reply. Your post was interesting bcs my ob actually said that once your stomach muscles have separated, it is irreversible (accept via surgery). I didn't think what she said made sense. I am very happy to hear your response! Thanks!


My husband and I now have 3 little girls -- ages 4 and 5, plus another little one who joined us on Dec. 21st!
SARA_PT
Posts: 739
7/22/05 8:18 P

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Surgery should be a complete last resort and I do not think it should be thought of an option since a diastisis can be reversed with proper exericse and muscle training. Here is an exerpt from a book written by Elizabeth Noble an Physical Therapist and world renound expert on pregnancy related issues (from her book - Essential Exercises For the Childbearing Years):
"Even in cases where the whole hand can be placed sideways in the gap, diligent exercise can close the gap in ten days!" The key to closing the gap is knowing how to do the exericses correctly - you need to learn to use your abdominal mucscles in a way that pulls your midline together not push it apart. Starting with simple head lifts on outward breath will do this - lying on your back, breath in first, as you slowly exhale raise your head slowly off the floor at the same time pulling the underlying muscles together, stabilizing with your hands. Think about exhaling and pulling your belly button to your spine.

Please seek out a trainined physical therapist to help you before you think about surgery, with hard work you can get this better!!!!


Our first arrived February 6, 2006, what a blessing!! Abigail Susan Hambidge, she is truly a miracle!!!
HELLOJELLO
Posts: 768
7/20/05 3:08 P

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Cathy, thank you so much for all this info.

I have another question for you -- Once your stomach muscles have separated, and the problem is not resolved after delivery, can it ever be repaired on its own (ie, exercise)? Or is surgery the only option???

Also, just some background info -- I actually tried to do crunches/sit-ups right after having my first daughter (upon doctor's recommendation), but it was painful. Could that have worsened my diastasis? Or made it a permanent problem???

Edited by: HELLOJELLO at: 7/21/2005 (14:06)


My husband and I now have 3 little girls -- ages 4 and 5, plus another little one who joined us on Dec. 21st!
CATHY_CRAM_MS
Posts: 9448
7/19/05 8:57 P

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A separation of the rectus abdominus muscles during pregnancy is normal-allows the belly to expand to make room for the growing baby. This separation, called a diastasis recti isn't a tear or a hernia-it's simply the connective tissue between the two muscles thinning and widening. After pregnancy, there are exercises that can help bring the muscles back together. I'll include those exercises below. Before you do any abdominal exercises you should consult with a physical therapist to find out just what's going on with your ab muscles.
Postpartum abdominal exercises:
Traditional abdominal exercises, such as sit-ups, put too much stress on a postpartum tummy and back, and are not recommended for new moms. Instead, I recommend a series of exercises developed by Shirley Sahrmann, a physical therapist who specializes in abdominal rehabilitation. These exercises are designed to target the area most weakened by pregnancy, (below the belly button) without creating stress on the back and abdomen.

Basic breath: -Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Inhale and exhale a few times. Don't flatten your back or tilt your pelvis, just let the natural curve in your back remain. Breath in slowly and deeply.
-Now breath out and tighten your tummy muscles, pulling your navel towards your spine. Remember to concentrate on contracting the muscles below your belly button and don't flatten your back.
When you are able to contract and relax your abdominal muscles without moving your back you have learned to properly isolate the correct muscles. You can then try the first Sahrmann exercise.

Sahrmann exercise #1:-Lie on the floor with knees bent and arms at your side.
-Hold your tummy in by doing your basic breath contraction. Keeping one knee leg bent, slowly slide the other leg out until it is straight with the floor, and then slide back up to bent knee position. Relax your tummy.
-Repeat the process for the other leg. Remember don't flatten you back and keep the curve relaxed.
When your abdominal muscles are contracted it helps to stabilize your pelvis while your legs and lower tummy muscles work. This prevents strain in your back muscles, and trains your abdominal muscles to protect and support your spine.
When you can comfortable do 20 legs slides on each side you can move to the next step.

Sahrmann exercise #2:-Lie on floor with knees bent and arms at side. Pull in on your tummy and hold, then raise one knee towards your chest and slowly straighten it out parallel to (about 2-3 inches above the floor) but not touching the floor. Return extended leg to starting position, knees bent, feet resting on floor, and relax your tummy.
-Repeat on opposite side, keeping one knee bent as you extend the other leg. Work up to five repetitions on each side without stopping, building to 20 repetitions or more on each side.

Sahrmann exercise #3: When you can comfortably do 20 of the #2 Sahrmann exercises with each leg you can move on to level 3.
-Use you basic breath as you bring your legs up one at a time towards your body with knees bent.
-Keep one leg bent as you slowly lower the other leg down to the floor and back up. Repeat on the opposite side, working up to ten times each leg.


Sahrmann exercise #4: If you can comfortable do 10 repetitions each leg of exercise #3 you’re ready to move on to #4.
-Do your basic breath as you bring both legs up and knees bent.
-Slowly extend one leg out parallel with the floor but not touching.
-Bring the leg back and repeat with opposite leg. Work up to 10 repetitions each leg.
With each repetition remember to keep breathing, contract your tummy as you move your leg, and don't let you back pop up. If the arch in your back keeps popping up during the exercise it means you're not strong enough to progress to this level, and need to go back to the previous exercise until you build greater strength.




Catherine is the co-author of "Exercising Through Your Pregnancy" with Dr. James Clapp, and author of Fit Pregnancy For Dummies, published by Wiley Publishing in 2004. To learn more about these books or buy them online you can find them on www.amazon.com.

Cathy also provides Prenatal & Postpartum Fitness Information and certification courses to Healthcare Professionals. Click here to learn more.

NONSEQUITUR
Posts: 31117
7/18/05 3:47 P

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I didn't have the hernia until after #4 was born. HelloJello - I know what you mean about the bloating. And with this pregnancy, it seems as if everything above my navel has just pooched out - like there's no muscles left.

BabyFit Community Team





Tempus fugit.

HELLOJELLO
Posts: 768
7/18/05 11:44 A

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Lips, it sounds like you have a hernia also...(I have a hernia on top of having separated stomach muscles, but I think they go sort of hand-in-hand...) Anyway, you know you have separated stomach muscles by doing this -- lay on your back on the ground, put 2 fingers JUST below your belly button, lift your head off the ground. If your finger fit into a ridge (meaning you can feel one muscle on one side of your fingers and the other muscle wall on the other side), then that means that you have diastasis of these muscles, or separation of these stomach muscles.

Having surgery for hernia is supposed to be fairly common, but to have surgery to fix these separated stomach muscles is much more complex. Mine is a pretty bad separation. I mean, through my clothing sometimes, I can actually SEE a ridge going down my stomach. And in the morning (before I got pg), my stomach was pretty flat, and by nighttime after I had eaten, drunken water, and maybe even had a full bladder, my stomach would be BULGING...I really want this fixed somehow! I'm hoping there is something that can be done post-partum to help alleviate this problem!!!

Edited by: HELLOJELLO at: 7/18/2005 (11:45)


My husband and I now have 3 little girls -- ages 4 and 5, plus another little one who joined us on Dec. 21st!
LIPSFORCHRIST
Posts: 17
7/17/05 9:19 P

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How do you know that you have this? Did your Dr tell you at your 6 week check up? I never had killer muscles in my tummy but they seem to get worse with each baby. I have what I think is a very bad pulled groin (in the lower part of my tummy I get very bad sharp pains whenever I do simple things like roll over, etc.)This never heals even after I have my babies. Anyway if someone would let me know how you know I would appreciate it!
Ivy


#4 is due Jan.14th.
I currently have 2 girls and a boy....can't wait to see what God has given us this time!

NONSEQUITUR
Posts: 31117
7/17/05 7:27 P

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I want to know the answer to this, too. I've had a diastasis since my first pregnancy and now I also have an umbilical hernia. Is there any way of mitigating this? It can be quite painful.

BabyFit Community Team





Tempus fugit.

HELLOJELLO
Posts: 768
7/17/05 6:58 P

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After pg and delivery, was anyone left with separated stomach muscles (diastasis of the rectus abdominis muscles)? These are the muscles that run vertically up and down over your stomach. After my 1st and 2nd pg's, my muscles never closed up. I was wondering if anyone else had this problem, and if it somehow healed on its own??? I am really, really hoping that if there is something that can be done to repair the problem, that I try to do it right after I have my 3rd baby in Dec (when my hormones might assist in healing my body...?)

I am sooo desperate; the surgery to fix this is a majjor surgery. I an even contemplating doing elective c-section for this 3rd baby, so that they might be able to stitch these muscles together (that is part of a standard c-section)

Anyone else with separated stomach muscles??? I would really love to hear other ppl's experiences!


My husband and I now have 3 little girls -- ages 4 and 5, plus another little one who joined us on Dec. 21st!

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