Having worked in the fitness/rehab industry for many years, and having three children of my own, I’ve found that moms are dealing with four really important core issues after pregnancy.
1. Weak connective tissue
2. Some degree of abdominal separation or possibly diastasis recti
3. Deflated, weak, stretched out core muscles
4. A disconnected core (inner core muscles not firing properly)
It is amazing what the body can do to grow a baby, but it does need a little guidance getting back.
Of the four issues I mentioned above, this lesson will focus on the first two since those are the main reasons to splint.
Optimal healing time for soft tissue is within 12 weeks post-injury, or in this case, post-birth. After pregnancy, the linea alba (connective tissue between the outer abdominal muscles) has been stretched, strained, and weakened to some degree.
It’s true that it’s never too late to heal a broken belly. However, it helps to be proactive and avoid issues down the line. This is why I recommend every mom splints post-birth and performs core reconditioning exercises before getting back to “typical exercise.”
Here is a video I made for this course that I’d like you to watch before reading more.
1. Aligns/stablizes the muscles and tissue close together
2. Provides proprioceptive feedback
3. Gentle compression and proper load to tissue
4. Protects from further stress or strain while tissue is weak
WHEN SHOULD I SPLINT?
It’s recommended to splint for about 4-6 weeks while doing corrective exercise if you are less than three months postpartum (when connective tissue is weak and vulnerable, regardless of separation) OR more than three months postpartum and have a separation of two finger widths or more.
DO I HAVE TO SPLINT?
Did I just say that?
Me, the inventor of the FitSplint?
Yes! It is possible that your diastasis recti may close and tighten with exercise alone. However, the healing time may take considerably longer… or may not shorten at all. I personally see the difference in women that choose to splint and do corrective exercise compared to those that just do exercises alone.
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
While the first 12 weeks post-birth is a great time to heal, it is also a prime time to re-injure or make a small separation worse. Because the tissue is weak right after birth, a separation of two finger widths can stretch more after pregnancy if the postnatal mom decides to: do contraindicated exercises (such as crunches, sit-ups, heavy lifting/twisting) or sit with poor posture before the tissue heals and core strength, function, and coordination is able to be restored.
WILL SPLINTING CLOSE MY SEPARATION COMPLETELY?
It is actually not a critical requirement that a separation closes completely (gasp). However, you should give your body a full chance to. With splinting and reconditioning, it usually comes very close! It is possible for women to restore total core function, strength, and coordination without a separation closing all the way.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE
Are you past the three month post-birth window? That’s okay! It really is NEVER too late to get your core strength and function back. Response times vary, but everyone can make progress!
Here’s a fun image Beth made to leave you all smiling. Have a great day!