The most common question women with pelvic floor dysfunction or diastasis recti ask me is, “What exercises are safe?” This was a question I used to spend hours researching on the internet, on Instagram, or anywhere I could. It consumed me. Like I am sure that it is consuming many of you.
As much as I hate the answer that I am going to give you, it’s not the exercise that you are doing, it’s HOW you are doing this exercise. We are all INDIVIDUAL. What the heck do I mean by this?
Well… the internet says heel slides are safe, ball to wall squats are safe, no weighted exercises etc. But my question is what makes these specific exercises safe? And what are these exercises preparing us for? Are they preparing us for our daily life demands, such as lifting a heavy ass stroller or our kids, or 10 bags of groceries? What happens when we want to get back to running or doing cross fit or lifting weights?
Another thought I have is how are women doing these heel slides, wall squats, or no weighted exercises? Have they been given the tools to implement effective strategies so that they are symptom free & can progress to where they want to be physically? Are these women holding their breathe & squeezing their abs? Are they inhaling & letting their pelvic floor relax or are they constantly tightening their pelvic floor? If women are not taught how to operate their core system effectively, then how can heel slides possible be safe? For example, exercise specialist Brianna Battles, had a large diastasis, & heel slides made her diastasis feel worse, not better. We need to find movements that work for us (BECAUSE WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUAL) & implement effective strategies that include piston breathing & neutral posture etc. I say screw the negativity on the internet. Let’s help women get back to the type of movement they love.
I know in my case, I DID NOT make ANY progress doing the typical prolapse safe exercises AND I also made zero progress when I laid around and did no exercise. WHY? Because these exercises or lack thereof were not preparing me for my daily demands (For example avoiding exercise did not prepare me for running after my toddler or vacuuming). Heel slides didn’t make my symptoms go away, nor did wall squats or no-weighted exercises.
The bizarre thing was that doing exercise with weights and practicing a wider range of movements was what helped my symptoms go away. WHY? Because I was preparing my body to move in different ways, like we do everyday all day. I was preparing myself to lift that heavy ass stroller, or my son, to pick up clothes off the floor, or those heavy groceries etc. I was preparing my prolapse to learn to deal with my daily tasks so that my body new what to do in many different situations that involved movement.
I learned how to implement effective strategies into my movements (see Blog post on how I recovered from my diastasis & prolapse).
My biggest piece of advice is not to be scared of exercise. This is easier said than done, trust me, I lived in fear for about a year. But the only thing that did was hold me back & make me feel worse. Try out different movements, monitor your symptoms. Try your best to implement good strategies, like piston breathing, neutral alignment, not breathe holding, relaxing your belly.
So again, it’s not what exercise you choose to do, but instead HOW you do it. If you want to get back to running, think about how you are running. Are you tucking your bum under? Or gripping your abs? Try to stack your ribs over your hips, rotate your arms as you run, & as Julie Wiebe says, “Run as if you are running into a wind storm.” How are you running? If you feel symptoms when you are doing pushups, then ask yourself a few questions. Am I breathe holding? Am I exhaling on exertion? Am I constantly gripping my obliques?
I always recommend Julie Wiebe’s program as a base foundation for exercise. It’s inexpensive and worth it. It provides you with the tools you need. She does not tell you which exercises you can or can’t do, but instead her program acknowledges that we are all individual. I share her program because it was the light at the end of my tunnel, and now I want to help other women like her program helped me.
Nowhere on the internet would it say that doing pushups, lifting heavy weights, running, or playing softball are prolapse safe. But I do them. I have zero symptoms. I know that I am individual. So please internet, do not tell me what I can or can’t do. None of us are alike.
As always I am honest in sharing my experiences & my knowledge/education.
There is so much hope!
Link to Julie Wiebe’s program: https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?ii=1311524&cl=257000&c=ib&aff=323995