Breathing Exercises for Diastasis Recti
Did you know that your breath affects your core function? And if your breathing patterns are a bit ‘up in the air’ after pregnancy it could be making your abdominal separation (technically known as Diastasis Recti) worse. We take around 20,000 breaths EVERY SINGLE DAY so it does make sense that how we breathe matters.
In this blog post, I’m going to talk about our breath and how to apply the right techniques when doing breathing exercises for Diastasis Recti.
Our Breath During Pregnancy
When we inhale, our breath should move through the entire canister of our torso. It should move down to the pelvic floor, into the belly and (importantly) into the whole of the ribcage for what is sometimes called a 360 breath, ie. we are using 360 degrees of the ribs as opposed to just the front half (and sometimes none at all!). When we are pregnant, our whole breathing pattern has to change because someone is in the way! The lack of space, possible tension around the ribcage and the fact the ribcage often shifts position entirely to make space for the baby. This can mean that the breath patterns become a bit dysfunctional, which can be a factor in Diastasis Recti developing.
When we inhale into our belly we create intra-abdominal pressure. Intra-abdominal pressure is the pressure within the abdominal cavity. Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) changes depending on your breath and the level of load being placed on your abdominals. When we create too much IAP for our body, it creates a feeling of ‘bulging’ ie the abdominals push outwards or the pelvic floor bears down. Daily activities such as breathing and moving from sitting to standing create IAP so it is important to understand it, learn to control it and make sure you aren’t creating too much for your body. If you can’t control the intra-abdominal pressure it can cause Diastasis Recti to develop. This can happen during pregnancy and the postnatal period but Diastasis Recti isn’t exclusive to these times. It can develop so anyone who doesn’t have the right balance in their torso.
When we ‘belly breathe’ all day every day, we create an excess of IAP so it is important to try and create a sense of balance within our breathing patterns to reduce the IAP we are creating. We take around 20,000 breaths every day and therefore changing your breathing patterns can have a huge impact on managing Diastasis Recti.
What to do if you need to correct your breathing:
Go and see a Women’s Health Osteopath
They can manually release tension around the ribcage / abdominals / neck / shoulders anywhere else that might be restricting your breathing patterns. This kind of release work can be very helpful for addressing Diastasis Recti as fascial restrictions can be a factor. If you are in St Albans, Jo Day at Herts Osteopathy is excellent.
Be more aware of your breathing
The first step to changing a movement pattern is awareness of it. It is virtually impossible to change what you can’t feel so just check in with your breath every day and see what you notice. If you notice that you are belly breathing, try to do some of the exercises below. They will help mobilise your ribcage and create more balance through your torso.
Look at your posture
It is very difficult to breath optimally when your posture is getting in the way. When everything is stacked in alignment, it allows you to breathe into the ribcage as you should do. Poor posture can have a huge impact on the breath. Try rounding forwards and then take a deep breath into your whole diaphragm. It’s basically impossible right?! If you sit/stand up straighter and align your head over your ribcage and your ribcage over your pelvis you will be able to get a much fuller breath. This will allow your core to function better and allow your Diastasis to heal more easily.
Consider your stress levels
Becoming a parent is wonderful but also very stressful for many people. The lack of sleep alone can be enough to cause high levels of stress. Stress and anxiety have an impact on your breathing patterns. Poor breathing mechanics can increase your levels of stress and anxiety so it is a vicious circle. Stress also impacts your healing so your Diastasis Recti make take longer to recover when you are struggling to manage your stress. Look at what you can do to reduce your stress levels; get a cleaner, start a daily breathing or meditation practice or go to bed earlier.
Mobilise your ribcage
By stretching and releasing the ribcage it will allow your breath to flow more easily into the area. Tension around the ribs and back can prevent the abdominal muscles from drawing back together so this work is very important for anyone with a Diastasis. These exercises are taken from our Your Core Matters online course for pelvic floor health and they are suitable to do during pregnancy, in the early postnatal phase and way beyond to help reestablish your breathing patterns.
Make sure you have a doctor’s permission to exercise before doing any online exercise videos. With all of our online programmes we fully screen you before you join. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel good and contact us with any questions.