WOD:

Earn Your Feast

“Barbara”

5 Rounds, each for time
20 Pullups
30 Pushups
40 Situps
50 Air squats
*Rest 3:00 between rounds*

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Looking beyond the Gap

The holiday season is upon us and that means wonderful holiday food. Turkey, stuffing, and pie, oh my. As your cradling that belly bulge on the couch, know that this blog ain’t about the effects of a food baby. The pelvic floor tends to get the lime light related to pregnancy, but the abdominal wall is subject to some change as well. PSA to all the men out there, you’re not off the hook on this one. Abdominal wall changes are not exclusive to pregnancy. Pot bellies, post minimally invasive or open abdominal surgeries, and sometimes genetics plus early posture/lifestyle habits can impact the behavior and function of the abdominal wall. Now, if we’re talking pregnancy related abdominal changes or pot bellies we’re talking about Diastsis Rectus Abdominus (DRA) which is a lengthening of the connective tissue called the linea alba (LA) between the “8 pack” and outer abdominals over a prolonged and sustained period of time. The classic sign of this can be detected with an easy test called an abdominal curl up or “crunch.”

As you hold your head up, note if there is a bulge (kind of looks like someone stuffed a sausage link under your skin) in the midline versus general doming of the whole abdomen, or a sagging of the midline between the abdominal muscles. What this test suggests, is that the LA has lengthened and when the abdominals contract, the two sides of the abs get closer together creating slack at LA between. When the pressure in the belly shifts with a crunch it can create a bulge, sag, or a wave like shape at the LA. This is very different from a hernia which is a tear or compromise to the connective tissue in the abdominal region which in certain cases needs to be surgically repaired.

So who cares? What does this mean? Fun fact: 100% of pregnant women by 35 weeks have a DRA. Sad fact: there are a plethora of companies and experts out there that want to sell these women on their “proven” program that will “close the gap.” And it often comes with a list of activities and exercises to avoid causing or worsening the gap. All of this is a big load of hog wash. More fun facts: we don’t know what causes DRA in some people but not in others. When DRA does get better it may not be related to closing the gap like many of us thought it was. So reality is, sitting up out of bed, weight lifting, or doing toes to bar is not going to make it worse. Here is my take home message: Words matter. Using language like this just creates fear woven with complex layers of emotions around aesthetics, identity, and exercise. For those who do have a split down the middle, the sure and true thing we do know is is that the metric for “better” goes far beyond closing the gap. Instead, “better” is defined by the ability to do meaningful activities in your life, your sense of strength, and the courage it takes to honor your present self. Life doesn’t have a rewind button. The only way is to progress is forward. Honor yourself and do the things you love to do. In the post partum period or starting an exercise program to lose that pot belly, just start with progressive core exercises that meet you where you are. Then gradually flirt or nudge that comfort zone and watch the transformation of going from “I can’t, to I can” happen before you know it.

Disclaimer: this content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. This is not a replacement for the evaluation and treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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– Kara Stadshaug PT, DPT, CLT, PHC