Steph Bruce is an advocate for understanding, accepting and strengthening your postpartum body. She has talked openly about her struggles to rebuild functional strength and confidence after carrying two (big) baby boys within months of each other.
After both boys she was left with Diastasis Recti, a separation in her abdominal muscles. Many women experience this, but women runners aren’t left with much more than a pamphlet at their postpartum check up, which doesn’t help them understand how to rebuild the functional core needed to run and race.
I know, because that’s where I was in September 2014. I could fit three fingers between my abs, and was given a print out and a good luck. A year and half later I visited Steph and her physical therapist to make a plan to rebuild my core strength.
Here are the top three exercises to do if you are a woman runner dealing with Diastasis Recti. Save the pin on Pinterest!
Cat/Cow. Come to your hands and knees, as you breath out round your back (like a cat stretching), as you breath in drop your belly and look up, imagine your booty is a tail pointed up as well. Alternate for 10.
All exercises below: 4x5 seconds, 3 x 5 seconds, 2 x 5 seconds, 1 x 5 seconds
1. BIRD DOG
After doing cat/cow find a neutral spine position (between cat and cow). Breath out and contract your core while extending your right leg straight behind you. Level your hips (if they were eye balls they would be looking straight at the ground) then extend your left arm. Breath in and alternate.
2. SIDE PLANK
Come to a low side plank on your elbow. Brace your core. Relax your neck.
3. MCGILL CRUNCH
Lay on your back with neutral spine. Raise one knee to bent. There should be space between the floor and your spine above your tailbone. Put a hand under there to make sure that space doesn’t disappear as you engage your core (think someone about to punch you in the gut) make a double chin and lift your chest.
NOTE: Steph has a team of coaches and physical therapists helping her rebuild. Always listen to your body and your doctor before doing these exercises. And to read the full story and how to check if you have Diastasis Recti, visit her blog.