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The Beginning- My Diagnosis

So I'll start at the beginning of my own diastasis journey:

As a personal trainer specializing in pre and postnatal fitness I felt I was fully equipped to assess myself after my son was born. I had trained carefully during my pregnancy, following all the Can-Fit-Pro guidelines- splinting my abdomen during targeted exercises, getting up and down correctly, belly breathing, strengthening my transverse. I did not feel like I was a high risk candidate for a diastasis recti. I was strong going into my delivery and I only pushed for about 25 minutes to deliver my baby.

At 2 weeks postpartum I was itching to get going on some gentle core exercises. I had been doing the leg slides and wanted to move into gentle back bridges, leg lifts and modified planks. I checked myself according to the Can-Fit-Pro guidelines- lay on back, place 2 fingers of hand at naval with palm facing towards myself, crunch up to lift my shoulder blades from the floor- 2 fingers or less= no diastasis. Great! I had a 2 finger-width gap only, no diastasis, hoo-ya, I rocked. On with the show.

Fast forward a week or so and doing some simple supine leg lifts I notice a football shape in my lower abdomen. "WTH is that?" I think. Well, that's obviously not good so I better not do those leg lifts anymore.

Taking a postnatal yoga class the instructor had us doing some similar postures. I explain to her that I am not comfortable doing those because of this protrusion I have seen and she suggests I should have my Dr. check it right away as I may have a hernia. I call my Dr. and tell him that at my son's 4 week appointment I would like him to check me because I think I may have a hernia. Subsequently he checks me and tells me "No you don't have a hernia, but there is this condition called diastasis...." and I say "O yes I know about diastasis from my personal training work, but I checked myself and I thought I was fine....what should I do Dr?" He laughs and says "Kate, look at you. You're thin. you're gorgeous for 4 weeks postpartum, do not worry about it." But I AM worried about it. I am structurally compromised. I am feeling a bit distressed and confused.

During this time I happened to sign on with Core Expectations, a company who specializes in pre and postnatal fitness. Samantha emails me that she is going to NY for a Diastasis training workshop. When she comes back she is excited, full of information and I can't wait to pick her brain. We meet for coffee and she starts explaining the Tupler technique. I am skeptical. No more crunches? Seated exercises? 1000 contractions per day? No more planks until I am healed? In week 4 you actually get to LIFT you head? It all sounds a bit tame to me. She tells me she is going to have a day long training session for her trainers and that I would be wise to modify my exercises until then.

Well I am a tough sell. Surely I am strong enough to still do supine planks! I am ALL about the plank! I am not holding them for long, incorporating a dynamic movement pushing up into a downward dog resting posture. I do reign it in a little.

At the Core Expectations training session the first thing I learn is that I have not checked myself correctly; in fact, all of my clients will need to be re-checked according to this new Tupler protocol:
  • Supine position
  • Check in 3 places- top, middle and lower
  • The shoulder blades do NOT leave the floor as this engages the rectus bringing them closer together resulting in a misdiagnosis
  • Check the strength of the connective tissue- you can feel pulsing with weak tissue!
I am excited to be rechecked by Samantha but am devastated to learn that I have a large diastasis- 3 fingers at top, 4 at middle and 4 at lower with weak connective tissue. Blah! No more planks? Seated exercises? Head lifts? O no! OK I am skeptical, but teach me how to fix it! We watch a very informative DVD that explains the dynamic anatomy of the abdominal muscles and how they connect. We are taught the first 2 exercises the "Elevator" and "Contractions" and are given our first 3 weeks program. It seems intensive. Also we are encouraged to wear abdominal splints to assist with the healing. I leave with my head spinning with information to digest.

In the following week I practice the 2 exercises but without any consistency. I am now convinced that I should chill on any prone abdominal exercises such as planks, and I am rethinking my entire approach to crunches- Julie Tupler maintains that in all exercise the transverse should be engaged to the spine, and that when lifting the shoulder blades off the ground this is physiologically impossible to do. So that means no more traditional crunches-EVER- as it can cause a diastasis and/or widen one that exists. This is good news to all of you who HATE crunches right?

I get in touch with Samantha to order a splint. I am onboard and ready to undertake this Ab rehab program.......

......next, Week 1- my introduction to the practical application of the Tupler technique.

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