Updated: May 23
I have been asked a lot lately, “do I need to do core recovery if I don’t have any abdominal separation?” And this is a very valid question, because mothers just aren’t given the education on what needs to be done to heal their core.
So today we are going to talk about why exactly core recovery is important, no matter how long ago you had your baby!
If we are meeting for the first time - Hi! Welcome to Vibrant Mama Wellness! My name is Megan, and I am a pre and postnatal personal trainer. I am certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, with a specialization in pre+postnatal fitness through PROnatal fitness. I am a mom of 1, and became interested in pre + postnatal fitness as I was going through my own pregnancy journey!
(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. This blog post is based on my own research and experience - please consult a medical professional before starting or making any changes to your exercise program).
First of all, let’s talk about abdominal separation since that is a hot topic in the postpartum world.
Some level of abdominal separation happens in every pregnancy, due to the nature of the uterus growing at a rapid rate, and placing pressure on the muscles and tissues as it expands outward. A more severe abdominal separation, or Diastasis recti (DR) is the partial or complete separation of the rectus abdominis (what many people refer to as the “six-pack” muscles). These two muscles run from your sternum to your pubic bone, and are connected in the middle by a tissue called the linea alba. Anyone can develop diastasis recti, but it is most common during pregnancy. The technical definition of DR is a separation of 2.7cm or more (roughly 2 finger widths) between the right and left rectus abdominis.
“Okay - but I only have a 1 finger gap. So I’m good, right?”
Eh, not quite. Research is now demonstrating that it is more important to pay attention to the tension of the linea alba (the tissue that connects the two sides of the abdominis). If there is a wider gap but the linea alba is strong, this is less indicative of DR than if there was a small gap and a weak linea alba.
Basically, the tension of your linea alba, and how you are able to manage intra-abdominal pressure, indicates the strength of your core.
Many people backwards breathe (i.e. sucking in the stomach on the inhale) which disrupts the functioning of the core canister (the diaphragm, transverse abdominis, and pelvic floor). Other things that can interfere with the system are wearing tight high waisted pants, always sucking in the stomach, and holding your breath while doing anything strenuous.
In order to properly manage intra-abdominal pressure, you need the core canister to work properly.
I know I’m getting technical and sciencey (can you tell this is a loaded topic?!) BUT - this is where the core recovery comes in!
Pregnancy and all the alignment shifts that come with it can really disrupt the core canister functioning. And if that is off in any way, there can be an INCREASE of pressure in the abdominal cavity, which further weakens the abdominal muscles AND that linea alba we talked about, thus leading to overall weak core functioning.
So - super long story short - YES! You need to do core recovery, no matter how long ago you had your baby!
That being said, this process takes different lengths of time depending on the person. If you were super active pre-pregnancy and throughout pregnancy and had really great core strength, it might only be a few weeks! But if you were someone that wasn’t super active, it could take a few months.
The best way to regain your core strength in an effective (and safe) way is to work with someone who has specific pre and postnatal fitness knowledge, or follow a program created by someone who does! (check out my 12-Week Postpartum Program here!) I also always highly recommend anyone who has given birth to see a pelvic physical therapist for a full evaluation to know where they are at from a pelvic floor standpoint.
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Disclaimer: This blog does not serve as medical advice. Please consult your medical provider before starting a new fitness routine. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.