Step 3 = “Engage core”
Welcome to Step 3 of my ‘7 Steps to Fixing Abdominal Separation’ online instructor program.
Engaging the core is another vital step NOT to be missed in the rehabilitation process of fixing diastasis recti and this is where we dig deeper into releasing the abdominals before strengthening them, which is also why it’s number 3 in the 7-Step ‘Breathe’ Principle™.
Read through the theory / text below first, and right at the bottom of this page, you’ll find a video of me demonstrating some sample core-based exercises for you to learn and try out on your very own abdominal separation clients to help fix their diastasis.
RELEASE THE ABDOMINALS BEFORE YOU ENGAGE
A lot of women suck their abdominals in as they go about their day-to-day lives, thinking they’re engaging the transversalis muscles.
There’s a difference between sucking in and engaging the core.
Sensitive issue: when dealing with postnatal women in particular, they can sometimes have an unsightly tummy with stretch marks, excess skin and/or an over-hang left over from a c-section that they’re desperately trying to hide.
Sucking in is a way that many women deal with something they’d rather hide, and addressing it by sucking in is a deep-seated, ingrained habit that’s very hard to break.
WHAT DOES ‘SUCKING IN’ DO?
Sucking in creates a vacuum effect that forces the abdomen’s contents upwards (not inwards) displacing the digestive organs up and against the diaphragm.
This habitual upwards movement of constantly sucking in, makes processes that should occur naturally in the human body in the other direction downwards, like digestion, pelvic organ/lower-leg circulation, and menstruation quite problematic.
EXERCISE OF DISCOVERY
You may be reading this and able to identify with sucking in yourself.
To see whether you’re in this camp (and coincidentally it’s not just postnatal women here), have a think about this scenario:
You’re off to a party and you’ve squeezed yourself into that tight dress, skinny jeans or mini skirt and you’re looking pretty darn hot.
There’s food at this event, and although you promised yourself you wouldn’t eat because of this tight clothing you’ve got on, it’s difficult to say no, isn’t it?
Throughout the evening, as your food digests, your attention is drawn to your inability to fart due to your surroundings.
To keep up the facade of your trim figure this evening, what you’re essentially doing is sucking in, and creating a great build up of gas whilst you’re at it.
You get home, prize yourself out your little black dress and change into your comfy pyjamas only to check out your abdomen and realise you look 6 months pregnant.
And, what’s interesting is: you know that you should probably fart now, but no amount of trying actually produces anything.
It’s just not seen as very lady-like to fart is it, and as women we’ll go to any lengths to suffer badly when it comes to looking good and fashion.
All of the things mentioned above though for the postnatal client must change now, to enable healing to begin.
These are hard habits to break. Adding the extra loading from pregnancy beforehand, can result in ‘pregnancy-related’ ailments like diastasis recti.
It’s interesting to note that it’s not actually pregnancy that causes diastasis, it’s really a culmination of not one, but a whole host of faulty mechanics in the lead up to getting pregnant, making this program one of discovery and focus not solely on the abdominal unit, but the body in its entirety.
A NOTE ON CLOTHING AND BODY CASTS
For your postnatal clients, suggest comfortable clothing, particularly when it affects the abdominal region.
Realistically, we’re trying to dissuade our clients from doing something that’s causing a build up of pressure, so if an article of clothing isn’t comfortable like skinny jeans / tight tops, or it’s quite restrictive in this area, it’s got to go!
RELEASING THE ABDOMINALS
It is possible to reverse the affects of built-up pressure by way of an abdominal release.
This may be the first time you’ve experienced this yourself, so here goes.
EXERCISE OF DISCOVERY
Check out these 3 pictures:
1 – NEUTRAL PELVIS / TVA ENGAGED
In the first photo you’ll see my pelvis is in neutral with the pubic bone and hip bones (ASIS) aligned, and what I’ve done here is activated my transversalis upwards towards my spine (or if I were standing, it would be back towards the spine). Here also, the space in between my lumbar vertebrae has increased, my glutes are in a position to be active (more so if I was in standing), and I’ve flattened my abdominal wall.
2 – TUCKED PELVIS / SUCKING IN
The second photo shows a posteriorly-tilted pelvis with me sucking in what I think are my transversalis muscles. This sucking in often leads to a tucked under pelvis, an unsupported spine, and as you’ve learned – a movement of the digestive organs upwards towards the diaphragm.
3 – ABDOMINAL RELEASE
I think I deserve a medal for putting this third photo out there to public, don’t you? Here, I’ve set my pelvis to neutral and literally let all of the tension go in my abdominal muscles, letting them release towards the floor. It’s not a stretch I’m after here, it’s a release of all of that built-up tension and pressure, and that’s the message you need to get across to your clients (and possibly yourself too if you’re a chronic sucker-in-er too).
HOW TO PERFORM THE ABDOMINAL RELEASE
EXERCISE OF DISCOVERY
Get down on your hands and knees.
Alignment pointers are:
- Hands under shoulders
- Knees under hip bones
- Knees hip-distance apart
- Lumbar curve evident eg tailbone slightly lifted
- Elbow pits facing forwards
- Eyes towards the floor with the back of the neck long
Then, all that’s required is a complete release of the abdominal muscles down towards the floor below.
- You may find it difficult to switch off your transversalis muscles entirely – they may go through a ‘on’ then ‘off’ then ‘on’ again state – just try and relax,
- Initially, it may be slightly uncomfortable – remember, there’s a lot of built-up tension you’re trying to release here, and
- If your stomach’s gurgling that’s good news – it’s your digestive system doing its job downwards, rather than it being inhibited in an upwards state.
SAMPLE CORE-BASED EXERCISES
Webinar Recording – Step 3 – Engage Core
In this video, you’ll learn:
*the difference between sucking in and engaging the core
*why it’s important to release the abdominals as well as strengthen them
*basic core-based exercises appropriate for your diastasis clients
*step 3 of The Breathe Principle
PASSWORD TO VIEW THIS VIDEO = breathe