Q: I’m a bit freaked out about abdominal separation…what exactly is it and how do I know if I have it?
A. For some women, pregnancy can cause abdominal separation –or diastasis recti – a condition where the two right and left sides of the “six-pack” muscle spreads apart at the body’s midline. It’s actually quite normal during pregnancy, but those expecting multiple births are at an increased risk.
First, lie on your back with your knees bent and you feet flat on the floor. Place your fingertips at your midline parallel with your waistline at the level of your belly button. Gently press your fingers into your abdomen as you roll your upper body off the floor into a crunch. If the separation feels more than 3 fingers wide then some basic Pilates exercises should be started as soon you get the go-ahead from your doctor.
An easy move that you can incorporate into your daily routine can help: simply lie on your back and draw your belly button towards your spine, holding for 10 seconds. As you do this, visualize your waist narrowing and ribs closing. Note that a small amount of separation of midline—one to two fingers’ width—is very common after most pregnancies, so don’t panic. But speak to your doctor if you’re concerned.
Beth Narain is one of Hong Kong’s fitness pioneers and is a qualified instructor in the Lotte Berk Method and in Pilates Mat Work. A graduate of the Royal Ballet, her unique form of instruction, drawing on yoga, ballet and callanetics, consists of slow and controlled movements for precise definition and shaping of the body to not only tone, but also to correct alignment. In addition to training private clients, Beth teaches a number of classes at PURE, including “Stretch and Tone” classes with stretch bands that she has developed, “ball blast” and an aerobics-style Pilates, which includes weights and gliders.