Centering on Yourself: The Role of Pilates in the Prevention and Recovery of Abdominal Diastasis
Marine Dubel-Jam Midwife, Versailles, France
During pregnancy, the body experiences many physical, physiological and hormonal changes. One of these modifications is the diastasis of the rectus abdominis, which consists of a separation of the muscles in the abdominal area, forming a hollow between the right and left sides of the belly. Although this process is a physiological adaptation of the body to the growing volume of the uterus and therefore allows for the proper development of the unborn child, it can sometimes be significant and uncomfortable for the women who experience it.
The adapted and thoughtful practice of Pilates during pregnancy and postpartum can help reduce its appearance and accompany women during abdominal rehabilitation.
Benefits of Pilates on diastasis during pregnancy :
- Control your breathing
- Become aware of your perineum
- Discover hypopressive abdominal muscles
- Manage weight gain
- Practice correct posture
Benefits of pilates on diastasis during postpartum :
- Practice gentle physical activity
- Restore the center of gravity
- Re-integrate the perineum and abdominal muscles together
- Involve good recruitment of the deep abdominal muscles (transverse abdominis and pelvic floor)
In general, the prevention of diastasis consists of not repeating movements that can aggravate the phenomenon of "pushing forward". This rule applies both in daily life and in physical activity. It is known, for example, that women who have to carry small children are more affected by diastasis. For sports, it is important to avoid "crunches" because they increase the axis of forward pressure.
The Pilates Class pre- and post-natal programs adapt the movements in such a way that you don't have to worry about the consequences on your abdominal muscles. You can find meditation exercises that focus on the breath, which is central to managing the pressure of the diaphragm - it increases on the inhale and decreases on the exhale. When we make an effort, the impact is increased. Jacqui also gives advice on how to work the pelvic floor in depth and intensity. You must visualize your perineum as a hammock. If the fibers of the hammock are relaxed, the force exerted on them will only aggravate the gravity. Conversely, hypopressive abdominal muscles on tightened and sheathed muscle fibers will have no harmful consequences and will also prevent genital prolapse. You can observe your belly during the exercises. If they are well done, you will not see a small bump appear in front of you during the effort.
The resumption of your sports practice must be reasoned and requires the agreement of your doctor or midwife. In case of severe diastasis and/or umbilical hernia, talk to your doctor.
Above all, don't forget that everything is a question of balance, listen to your body and be aware of what energy it sends back to you when you perform a movement.