Expert Advice from Resident Physiotherapist and Belly Balance Expert Magda Krzysik at Shine, Stoke Newington Holistic Health Centre
Belly Gap, is a Whole-Body Imbalance
Belly Gap (Diastasis Recti Abdominis – DRA) is the unnatural distancing of the halves of the rectus abdominis muscle (the six-pack muscle) from each other. It is usually most pronounced close to the belly button. The two halves of the muscle are always a little separated and for each of us the distance between them is different. That is why it’s impossible to say what the minimal distance between the muscle halves has to be to qualify as DRA. It often happens to pregnant women and it is a very common postnatal problem, but it can also manifest in men (with too much abdominal fat pushing on the belly wall) and in athletes with over trained bellies (which introduces a lot of pull on the midline of the trunk).
WHEN TO ACT
If you feel that your belly is not supporting you, that its midline has changed, and you notice that it’s doming when you do certain movements (e.g. sitting up from lying position), you most probably should introduce some changes in how you “use” your body. Especially, if those changes in the abdominal wall and its function are accompanied by other ailments, like lower back pain, pelvic floor dysfunctions or digestive problems.
DRA is a symptom showing that the body is in imbalance. That there are forces and pressure that it cannot handle. It is not a single problem that can be fixed only by a set of corrective exercises. Our posture, everyday life habits, the way we move, and how much we move – it all plays a role in developing it. Therefore, to prevent it or to repair it we need to look at all of those components and not only focus on the belly.
The whole body must work optimally to enable the abdominals to function well. And vice-versa: a strong abdominal wall helps our body to work more efficiently and safely (in terms of spine stability, for example). That is because EVERYTHING in our body is connected.
HOW TO HELP HEAL DRA
One of the simplest things you can do to keep your belly in good shape or help it heal is to make sure that the alignment of your body is right. In other words: watch your posture. Taking care of how you stand and sit, making sure to stretch what is contracted (e.g. open up a closed chest with hunched shoulders) and strengthen what is weak (e.g. the glutes and muscles of the middle back). This will also involve moving more. Sitting is very bad for your whole body and it weakens your abdominals a lot.
The other thing you can do to prevent DRA or support it’s healing, is to control the pressure that is produced in your abdominal cavity. If that pressure is too high, it pushes on the structures that form your core – including your belly muscles. Learn how to get up from bed in the morning, how to sneeze and even pee in a more supported manner. It might sound like a lot, but really it just comes down to little tweaks.
SEE A SPECIALIST
If you suspect you might have DRA, it’s always a great idea to see a Physiotherapist, as sometimes there is tension in your body that has to be released by manual techniques. They will also instruct you on how to better take care of yourself.
Magda – Resident Physiotherapist at Shine, Church Street
To book an appointment please call 020 7241 5033 for our Church Street health & beauty salon in Stoke Newington.
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