To Plank or Not to Plank

I am at a crossroads with healing my diastasis recti. In May of 2012, my diastasis measured 2-fingers wide at the navel, 1-finger wide about two inches above the navel and 1 finger wide about 3 inches below the navel. As of today, my diastasis measures 2-fingers wide at the navel and 1-finger wide about an inch above and below the navel. I have come a long way in my healing of this abdominal injury. However, now I find myself at a crossroads. My own selfish desires and need to be “perfect” want my diastasis completely healed. I desire to have it fully closed and to have the stomach I remember prior to having kids.

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I’m conflicted. I know that my stomach is beautiful, I know that I am beautiful, I know that my stomach birthed me four babies. I know that to most people, I look great. However, when I look at my stomach, I remember what once was. I remember what I looked like when I was in my 20’s. I remember sporting a bikini with great pride and actually having a defined 6-pack. As a striver, I see healing my diastasis as something to strive for…that if I can get mine healed, I have somehow arrived. Arrived at what? I don’t know.

So I’m stuck. I wanted it closed but I know it may never close. I want to look like I once did, but I know that I look amazing now. Conflict.

In talking to someone recently about my struggle in closing my diastasis, they asked if I did plank pose, and I said “yes”. I have known for awhile that planks overwork the rectus abdominal muscles and that anything that overworks the rectus abdominal muscles makes a diastasis worse. I have been practicing planks because I’ve been trying to get back into a regular yoga practice and many classes incorporate some type of plank pose. I’ve also wanted to get better at planks. At one time I could hold a plank for a minute with no problems, now I just quiver. Again, I remember what once was and want it back.

The day she asked me if I was still doing planks, I realized I was at a major crossroads. Did I want full healing? Would I do or not do things to make it happen? Or was I ok with the fact that I may never close my diastasis?

I actually have not found the answer to these questions. However, I have decided to stop doing planks until the October Holy Yoga Immersion Retreat, which is at the end of October. I am giving up planks for 6 weeks as a way of seeing if my diastasis will heal better in that time. At the end of the 6 weeks, if my diastasis is not any smaller, I have made an agreement with myself that I will be ok maybe never having a closed diastasis.

I’m finding that healing involves sacrifice. When Jesus presented healing to people, He often challenged them to sacrifice something. Some did, and for others, the sacrifice was too big to find healing and freedom.

Are you willing to sacrifice plank pose with me for the next 6 weeks? Are you willing to work more diligently on working your transverse abdominal muscles (TVA)?

About christinamroz

Believer that anyone at any age and with any abilities can move their body. Foot & Core Expert. Alignment Nerd. Yoga/Fitness Instructor & Trainer. Mother of 4 active children.
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6 Responses to To Plank or Not to Plank

  1. Holly says:

    I too have been so torn as to what to do with my workouts. I have been training hard for the last two years doing programs like P90X, Insanity and Turbofire. They all have a major focus on abs as well as a full body workout. With P90X I do yoga once a week. I have just discovered I have diastasis recti and although I am happy to have finally discovered why my stomach is going nowhere in this workout journey I am torn as to how much my stomach can take while I am working out. Is it safe to do most exercises or should I refrain from most exercises that work my abs? Can I do pull-ups? I wish my doctor would have mentioned to me that I had this. I have been told by a plastic surgeon that I would need surgery to correct it. Well, I thought there has to be something I can do. So after working hard on my body and getting the rest of it to where I want it except my stomach I decided to Google “fixing abs without surgery” and this is when I came across diastasis recti. Thank you for speaking up about this. I am with you on this one. Do I give up so many workout moves I love for my desire for a closed diastasis?

    • I’m so glad you reached out. I”m totally in this journey with you. When I found out I had one I felt very deceived and wondered why I had never heard about this in over 10 years of being in the fitness industry. I’ve discovered there are 2 questions when it comes to healing a disastasis—do you want it completely healed? or do you want it minimized? The answer to this will determine what workouts you do. If you want it minimized you lay off crunches/sit-ups and start working your transverse more. If you want it healed you give up all things that put strain on the rectus until it is healed—which means planks, crunches, sit-ups, boat pose, etc. You could be giving these things up for awhile. So the ball is really in your court. What do you want? When you keep focusing on the rectus, it just keeps opening up the diastasis more. Crunches and sit-ups should be a thing of the past for sure—even when healed they are not a functional abdominal movement and they only work the rectus. Depending on how big your diastasis is, you might want to consider splinting while you work out so that your connective tissues are brought together and you can start healing better and faster. Good luck in your journey. Lets keep this conversation going. I’d love to know how you are doing.

  2. Ulrika says:

    As I have understood it from the expert I have consulted it is very hard to completely close a diastasis, i.e. get it back to having no gap at all. Another thing that can be good to remember in the striving for “perfection” is that a lot of people naturally have a larger gap between their abdominal muscles without it causing any problems. I think it’s good that you’ve taken a time period to do your best to see if you can improve things more and then reevaluate. From the expert that’s developed the rehab program I’m following I’ve learned that basically what’s important when doing exercises is not only the size of the gap (generally adviced to stay away from planks et.c. as long as the gap is 2 fingers or wider) but also if you can control it. So a good test can be to check what happens if you contract the muscles more in the diastasis test, if the gap gets smaller that’s a good sign as well as if the gap gets smaller as you contract your transverse abs.

    I think you look great so don’t worry about it. I have a bigger diastasis than you and a far more preggo looking belly plus a colostomy. Although I found dressing a challenge to avoid looking preggo (now I actually am again, so now it’s fine to look preggers ;)) I also realise my worth, my value is not in how my belly looks. I’m happy as long as it functions and I don’t have to redo my colostomy.

    Good luck and again you look great! 🙂 And eventually looks will fade, the skin will wrinkle and we will get less physically able. It’s a road we all have to travel. No matter how much we strive.

    • Thank you for this. I got this while I was going at a Holy Yoga Retreat, which is why it is taking me so long to respond. I totally agree with what you wrote. I have come to understand that 1 finger wide or less is considered closed. Yes, actually closing one completely is very difficult. My reason for stopping planks and other abdominal exercises is because I have some severe muscles imbalances and dysfunctions. My rectus normally takes over for transverse abdominal work. In addition, I have a shortened and tight psoas which also over recruits for my transverse. Since I have taken out planks I have actually seen an improvement in the strength of the connective tissue (linea alba). I have started to slowly work planks into it. Thanks for saying I look great. I know that I do. It is just difficult at time to let go of the image of the belly I once had prior to having my diastasis–but I’m working on letting that go and fully embracing the “new” me, God has created.

  3. Emily says:

    Hello! I am in your shoes now in January 2015. I am 4 months post-partum, with mild but noticeable diastasis, and am an avid yoga practitioner (I teach as well). I am having such a difficult time figuring out how to maintain my practice without doing postures that can make it worse, particularly plank (because it is so prevalent). What did you do during sun salutations, for example? Just skip postures? Or did you just focus on pulling it tightly on your core? Thanks!

    • Great question. Not an easy one to answer. I did take out planks for almost 2 months and saw a huge amount of healing when I did. I just started bring them back into my practice. At times I have splinted when needing to do a class with a lot of plants to prevent the split from getting bigger.

      When I teach I don’t hold any planks, I drop to the knees and then flow down. I have switched my entire system of teaching to take out things that make a diastasis worse.

      When doing questionable diastasis safe stuff I do them slow and make sure I have my transverse abs engaged.

      This is hard. I so get it.

      I hope this helps.

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