What The Tummy Team (and our clients) Want FITNESS Professionals to Know about Diastasis Recti

Fitness is a huge component of our culture and can be an essential aspect of our physical, emotional and mental health.  However, not all fitness is created the same.  Sadly instead of viewing fitness as an important form of self care, many of our clients see it as a chore, or use fitness as a way to beat their body up on the way to an ever changing goal. 

Rehab and fitness are two sides of the same coin.  There is a component of fitness in most rehab approaches and there can be a component of rehab built into clients fitness routines.  At The Tummy Team most of our clients complain mostly of feeling weak.  When we feel weak the first thing we think is “I need to workout”.  Unfortunately, the weakness many clients are feeling is a deep core and deep pelvic floor muscle atrophy that does not improve with traditional exercise practices.  This is where fitness professionals (personal trainers, fitness instructors, yoga teachers, Pilates instructors etc) can play a pivotal role in helping clients get the right information.  

There are several missing links in the professional training of many fitness professionals related to diastasis recti and functional core rehab.  The Tummy Team would like to partner with professionals to get the best training available to better serve our clients and help them reach their fitness and life goals. Let’s begin with looking at a few things we believe all fitness professionals should know.

Crunches and sit ups can cause Diastasis Recti

For the past several decades sit ups and crunches have been the primary exercise recommended in fitness to strengthen the abdominals.  However, evidence now shows that these forward flexing exercises actually create a muscle imbalance in the core and cause damage to the connective tissue that runs down the midline of the abdominal wall (linea alba). Chronic forceful forward pressure in the abdominals that these exercises create pushes the tummy out and stretches the connective tissue that is designed to knit the right and left side of the core together to reinforce the stability needed for the abdominal organs and the spine.  The Tummy Team offers extensive training for Tummy Safe Fitness that not only can prevent diastasis recti but can better train the core comprehensively so clients can exceed their fitness goals. We discourage sit ups, crunches and crunch like exercises for all fitness clients.  There is a better way to strengthen the core! 

The importance of the transverse abdominis activation in preventing Diastasis Recti

Most fitness professionals get very limited education on the anatomy and function of the transverse abdominis.  The Transverse Abdominis is the innermost corset-like muscle of your abdominal wall and the only muscle in your body that wraps around the body providing a right, left, front and back component of the muscles. This muscle is postural and structural in nature and is essential to stabilize the spine and the pelvis and rib cage free and effective movement of the arms and legs.  The Transverse Abdominis is essentially ignored by most fitness trainers in favor of the outermost abdominals the rectus abdominis and the obliques. But the Transverse  actually has the capacity to activate, elongate and engage on the breath and work of every exercise/movement you do. The Tummy Team helps provide this missing education and gives you strategies to include this muscle into all your fitness routines and personal training. 

Leaking urine during exercise is a sign of functional core weakness and should not be ignored

Many clients believe that it is ok to power through pelvic floor symptoms when working out.  As a personal trainer, it is your job to educate your clients of signs and symptoms of dysfunction so that they do not create injuries while trying to build strength.  Talking about the pelvic floor as a group of structural and supportive muscles in fitness can make all the difference in how your clients view these symptoms. Functional core strength, neutral pelvic alignment and connection the pelvic floor and core on the breath and exertion of exercise can be implemented by fitness professionals to help clients continue to work out without pelvic floor injury.

Proper personal training can prevent diastasis recti caused by fitness

The transverse abdominis can elongate and compress the core, and it engages on the exhale of your breath.  Many clients resort to breath holding or bracing the core when straining on exertion of exercises. Bracing the core as a stability strategy in fitness causes a muscle imbalance in the abdominals, excessive pressure on the linea alba, and can contribute to the development of diastasis recti. Fitness professionals can play a key role in training clients to connect to their breath more effectively to prevent diastasis and train the core more effectively.

The Tummy Team has partnered with Tummy Safe Fitness specialist Beth Learn from Fit2b to provide comprehensive continuing education for fitness professionals worldwide.  We are passionate about providing up to date clinically relevant training that you can implement immediately in your practice and with your clients.  This is must know information for everyone working in fitness. 

Check out Tummy Safe Fitness CEU and The Tummy Team Trained Fitness Professional Apprentice process.

Let us help you fill in this knowledge gap and better treat our clients together. 


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