Diastasis WHAT??!

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I think most singers now are pretty on board with maintaining a healthy body as part of a healthy instrument.  Physical activity is one of my favourite ways to clear my head and reconnect to my body, and I sing better on the days I make time for it.  I was in really great shape before I got pregnant.  Not long after I discovered I was pregnant, I became super slow and felt weak on a  good day.   Pregnancy cravings and my diet didn’t help; I probably ate more ice cream and pizza when I was pregnant than in my whole life combined.  Not an exaggeration, miraculously I don’t weigh 500lbs. I told myself all day every day,  ‘It’s ok, it doesn’t last forever.  The baby will get here and I’ll get my body back’.   Obviously this is my first and I was clueless.   Fast forward 9 months: I’m sure it’s part sleep deprivation, part breastfeeding, all hormones, but pizza and ice cream are still my favourite food groups and my mph average is still pretty slow even on a good day.  Ugh.  Granted I’m pushing a stroller and Baby around while managing a dog on a lead but that’s still much farther away from where I’d hoped to be 9 months postpartum.  

Keeping in shape, stretching, and staying connected to the body is all a huge part of singing well due to the [obvious] fact that the body is our instrument.  Part of my regular practice and maintenance routine is a strength workout, which has been pretty basic for the past year.  None of the fancy stuff I did pre-baby like exercise ball pikes or a decadent amount of pull ups. At least I don’t look like a pregnant hippo from Fantasia when doing floor workouts anymore, so there’s that.   During a workout a couple months ago I placed a hand on my abdomen and discovered a HOLE!! Like a mini Grand Canyon that runs down my midsection!  Freaked me right out. As a singer all those muscles functioning well  is a pretty big deal, which is why the idea of a C-Section scared me so much.  Sure enough, my abs had separated during pregnancy and hadn’t reconnected after, something called ‘Diastasis Recti’ that’s actually more common than I realised.   Nothing like high stats to make one feel less freak-ish in one’s dysfunction.  I’d heard about Diastasis Recti briefly but hadn’t paid attention to information I’d heard in passing before birth.  I assumed that it happened to ‘weak’ people who didn’t exercise or teach breath, posture and alignment for a living.  Apparently doing the wrong postural exercises excessively can actually make it much worse.  Shows you what I know.

Diastasis Recti simplistically defined is when the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy but the connective tissues don’t reconnect completely after birth.  If you google it you’ll get a bunch of information, but this article is pretty succint:

http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/postpartum/diastasis-recti/

This article from Wellness Mama is also a good resource:

https://wellnessmama.com/60398/diastasis-recti/  

I can’t believe I now regularly keep tabs on a non surgical hole in my stomach in the context of finger widths – 1 finger width is considered rehabilitated apparently – but there you go. Never say never!  In the next post I’ll write about a few exercises and practical tips that have helped me with closing the gap.  Diastasis Recti can seem quite scary as a singer.  I cried on the floor when I connected the dots, but that could have been the broken 5 hrs sleep I had the night before compounded by several months of barely a wink.  DR isn’t so bad really, and rehab has helped improve my posture and alignment in a way I don’t think I would have improved without it.  Have a look, at the very least it will be a bit of interesting information!

Elise

 

 

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