What is a diastasis recti?

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A lot of people ask me about my diastasis and some women come to me for help. I hope I’ve helped a bit but this article discusses an issue many people don’t understand. AB separation is seen as a cosmetic issue but it isn’t. My stomach looked exactly like the athlete in this picture. And like her I trained through it as best I could because reconstruction wasn’t a financial option. In Ontario it is considered an aesthetic option to bring your abdominal rectus muscles back to their original location in the body.

I can assure you it’s not cosmetics that send women to surgeons to fix severe diastasis. My doctors advised me to strengthen my core and be on my way. Accept the way my body looked. I always did accept the way my body looked. I birthed 3 kids, I had 3 c-sections and I trained hard to compete. I liked the way my body felt when I raced, I had no shame but I did struggle to keep up. My separation meant I couldn’t rotate through the water to swim. It meant I had no power in my run )sprinting for the finish wasn’t an option. And I had no power in the climbs riding my bike. So I took each movement and found core exercises that could help me compensate. Like the doctors said, I strengthened my core.

But here’s the catch the body adapts. It’s a beautiful thing really. We are adaptable so that we can push through. In my case that adaptation meant my body started to recruit other muscles. I didn’t realize it at the time but muscles in my body were becoming super muscles. Later my doctors would call them “monsters.” My psoas grew to more than 2.5 times its natural size – on both sides. It’s the muscle that lets you raise your leg, extend your leg and move your torso. It’s a trunk connector and deep inside your body. In my case it replaced my abdominal rectus muscles (your 6 pack muscles). It became the main abdominal muscle my body recruited.

Then on new year’s eve the femoral nerves in my legs stopped working. They stopped working with a fireworks show that put my quadriceps into spasms for 48 hours and unable to walk. Within 2 weeks I could walk and range of motion started to return but I lost 50% of the use/power/strength in each leg. It’s been like that since Dec 31, 2013. The worst part is doctors knew what the problem was but there is no data to prove, just an understanding of biomechanics.

It’s taken 2 .5 years since the nerves died in my legs, experimental procedures to prove the psoas can shrink and that it was recruited when my abs separated, 4 specialists, too many CT scans and MRI scans and more. 2 weeks ago my diastasis was repaired. I have to continue with experimental botox shots in my psoas while my abs heal and then I have a long road of physio to teach my abdominal rectus how to work again, the hope is I will race again better than ever before. But it’s been a journey, and it isn’t over yet.

I want one more stab at wearing that maple leaf on my chest. While I’m sitting out my competition is getting stronger and faster. They are lean and mean but my advantage is pain, pain became my best friend these past few years. Only a few people saw the nights my husband carried me up the stairs because I couldn’t take another step. Pain and I, we’re tight now. I can live with pain, a lot of pain, so when the doctors say go I’m charging. I’m going to fail. I’m going to fall and I’m going to get back up. I may not reach my goal but just like last time I’m going to climb that ladder one step at a time. And this time my body is whole!

If you’ve taken the time to read this I hope it creates an awareness that a diastasis isn’t a condition women should be encouraged to accept. That it isn’t a cosmetic issue. It’s a quality of life issue and we need to change how our government views this procedure. Please share.