In women’s health and fitness circles, Julie Wiebe doesn’t need an introduction. She’s a world-renowned sports medicine and women’s health physiotherapist whose passion is helping women return to fitness after giving birth. Julie’s evidence-based approach to post-pregnancy rehabilitation promotes diaphragm and pelvic floor integration, strengthening women’s cores for function in fitness and in life.
Discussing Diastasis Recti with Julie Wiebe, Women’s Health Physiotherapist
Jen: Women are beginning to realize there are post-pregnancy issues with their bodies that have been either non-existent or neglected in previous generations. We’re discovering that some of us have diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation) after pregnancy that doesn’t go away. What should a woman do when she discovers she has diastasis recti?
Julie: I think the first thing a woman should do is check in with her alignment. I like to compare a diastasis to an open zipper or “fly” in your abdomen . If you stand in postures that cause your “fly” to gape open all day then you are promoting opening of the diastasis…all day. If you stand in postures that approximate, or bring the tissues together all day then you are promoting closure…ALL DAY. It’s win-win!
The reality is approximately 66% of women have a widened diastasis immediately postpartum (Boisonnault, 1988). This is because the tissues at the front of the abdomen are designed to have give. This allows for the expansion of the belly to accommodate the growing baby. Approximately 33% of those with a widening have a diastasis that does not resolve on its own and need additional intervention. We need new studies to help us update our understanding of the true frequency of unresolved diastasis and get that message out to reduce women’s fears and stop feeding a cultural obsession with abs.
Jen: So what about women who have protruding bellies but no diastasis recti present?
Julie: One of the reasons a belly won’t flatten (when it is not due to a diastasis), is that the belly is poorly recruited and poorly coordinated with the rest of the deep core and the pressure system in the abdomen. This video explains how our internal pressure system works.
Jen: What are women’s diastasis recti treatment options? Is physiotherapy our only route or are self-guided programs enough?
Julie: I do think that in many cases the use of self-guided programs may be enough to accomplish all this. But you should see change relatively quickly, within a month of starting the program. I don’t mean complete resolution, but evidence that you are benefitting from the effort you are making. If you are not responding, you may need to have an evaluation by a pro that can help you determine the integrity of your fascia (the tissue that thins to allow the abdomen to spread during pregnancy), if you are performing the activities correctly and doing so in good alignment, if you need additional cues, or additional intervention to maximize your response to conservative management.
If you are going to do a program on your own, you must learn to do a self-check of your diastasis, to measure your progress and to see if certain aspects of your day or workout are widening your gap.
Check yourself for diastasis recti:
Find a physiotherapist in your area:
Check out Julie’s online course:
Julie offers a self-paced video series offering the latest concepts, exercises, movement strategies and body awareness tips for rehabilitating your pelvic floor, minimal to moderate prolapse, diastasis recti, and pelvic pain. The skills learned in this course can easily be integrated into your day.
Time: 1.5 hours, divided into six brief segments.
Price: $29.95 USD
Click here to find out more
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Our interview was way too long to fit into one blog post so I’ve packaged it into a four part series: ‘Fix My Pregnant Body.’ In our last post Julie and I will be talking about incontinence after pregnancy and pelvic floor issues. Subscribe to my blog (in the right hand side bar or if you’re on mobile, below) so you don’t miss out!
Fix Me After Pregnancy Series
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