Fixing the ‘Gap’ Could Take More Than Just Exercise
At the beginning of this year I wrote an article called ‘Mind The Gap’. It described what a Diastasis was and how you could check to see if you had one. It also provided some brief advice on how a Diastasis could be managed ensuring a woman’s core was strong and functional. The advice centred mainly around exercise and soft tissue therapy. However, recovery needs to go much deeper if a woman wants to truly experience a good connection with her core.
As a Holistic Core Restore® coach I can provide you with a really great core programme which will help you strengthen the deep abdominal muscles and ensure you are moving well, however, if your diet, gut health, toileting habits and rest and recovery is not up to scratch, your progress may be much slower or even worse, reversed. So what else do you need to do?
Our tissues require protein in order to help build and repair themselves. Proteins contain amino acids which are the building blocks to our tissues. If we are lacking protein in the diet our body will repair slower. Ideally we want to consume protein at every meal. Not only does this ensure we are eating adequate amounts but it also makes us feel fuller for longer, helping us avoid snacking on sugary foods in between meals. We should also consume lots of vegetables and berries. A varied diet of vegetables will ensure we are getting essential vitamins and minerals that are key to optimal cellular function. Berries are also high in anti-oxidants which helps fight off disease, again something that would impede recovery. Don’t forget that vegetables and fruit contain fibre which is important to gut health and the easy passing of stools. I discuss gut health next.
We all know that feeling when we’ve eaten too much or eaten something our tummy hasn’t agreed with. We feel bloated, sick and our tummy looks swollen. It is usually caused be excess gas production or disturbances in the digestive tract. There are particular foods that can aggravate the digestive tract and cause it to swell and become painful. Processed sugar and carbonated drinks are the worst offenders and should be avoided. There are other foods that can trigger a response but can be very individual to people. What may upset one person, may not effect another. I always recommend keeping a log of times when you feel bloated and write down the ingredients of what was in that meal. Over time you may begin to see a pattern and identify foods that aggravate the gut and therefore you can eliminate them from your diet.
It’s important when we use the toilet, that we are positioning our bodies in a way that allows easy passage of both urine and faeces out of it. Sue Croft, a Women’s Health Physiotherapist from Brisbane, Australia, advises we adopt two separate positions when we use the toilet. One for urinating and one for defecating. She advises to have your knees raised higher than your hips when preparing to defecate. This is to help reduce the pressure through the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. You can use a toilet stool (Squatty Potty) to help rest your feet on when your knees are elevated.
You also want to be mindful of not pushing or straining whilst urinating or defecating and to keep relaxed. When you strain you are creating a pressure within the abdominal unit which will place stress on the diastasis and prevent it from strengthening. Keeping yourself hydrated and eating foods that contain fibre will ensure your stool consistency is not too hard. As mentioned above, if you are straining to pass a hard stool, you are creating an outward pressure on the pelvic floor and abdominal wall. Not great for muscles that are trying to come together, but instead are being pushed apart.
Rest and Recovery
Failure to rest or get a good night’s sleep will impede your body’s ability to heal. When we are sleeping this is the body’s time to recuperate, regenerate and restore things back to normal function. If you are struggling to get adequate rest or get some sleep, take note of what could be stopping you. Are you under stress, have too much to do, is the room you sleep in too bright, too cold, too warm, or are you drinking drinks such as coffee or alcohol that are stimulants rather than relaxants. Take a look at the causes and find strategies that will promote sleep. Visit the Sleep Council for ideas.
As you can see, a much more holistic approach needs to be considered if the body is to truly heal and for a diastasis to reduce, allowing better control through the core. If all of the above approaches are put into practice along with a focused core and pelvic floor strengthening programme, positive results will be gained.
The Holistic Core Restore® Diastasis programme is designed specifically for those who have a discernible gap and feel disconnected with their core and or pelvic floor. The programme is bespoke to the woman and includes a hands on assessment along with massage therapy and taping techniques to help support the muscles. It is only available as a one to one programme respecting every woman’s individual needs. For details of the programme and how to enrol click here.