Title- “Diastasis Recti: The Whole Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation”
Author- Katy Bowman M.S.
First published- 2016 – Propriometrics Press
Edition- 1st Edition
Format- Paperback or Digital
Availability – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Katy Bowman’s site, Propriometrics Press
I’m fortunate that in my years of teaching I’ve never come across a student or client who has Diastasis Recti (DR). So my intention in buying this book was to learn more about DR and how I, as a yoga and Pilates teacher, could work with clients who have DR. I have to say that while I did learn more about DR, there were no “aha moments” in this book for me. I think this is, in part, due to the fact that I have read Katy Bowman’s other books (see my other reviews). So a lot of the movement types and exercises she discusses in this book, were ones that I have seen in her other books.
Katy really intends for this book to be more about preventing DR from happening. At least that was my impression. Just like most of injuries today, we spend too much time and effort on the symptom and not working to fix the habits that caused the injury in the first place. I have many friends who are runners, with bad knees, ankles etc. Instead of fixing the habit, in this case running or running poorly, that caused the injury they just tape up and hit the road.
So what is Diastasis Recti anyways? For those who don’t know, it is a separation or distancing of muscle (the right and left halves of the rectus abdominus) from the linea alba. The linea alba is a fibrous structure, composed mostly of collagen connective tissue, running down the midline of the abdomen. The linea alba runs from the xiphoid process to the pubic symphysis. In this book Katy focuses mostly on the habits or forces (pushes and pulls) on the abdomen that are creating the DR.
Katy lists some of the forces that pull or stretch the linea alba, eventually changing it’s shape and causing DR. These include:
- Movements of the ribcage
- Movements of the pelvis
- The oblique muscles
- The transverse abdominal muscles
- The rectus abdominal muscles
- The intra-abdominal pressure like pregnancy and other “stuff” such as extra fat in the abdominal cavity
The MOVE section of the book really focuses on exercises that Kay recommends to assess and correct movement habits that are causing forces on the abdomen. These are all things that as Pilates teachers we watch in our clients: thrusting rib cage, pelvic position, tightness of shoulders and hips. All of these poor movements throughout the day put loads on the body. When the body can not handle the loads placed on it, we can cause DR. So Katy gives exercises that are designed to strengthen and balance the body throughout.
Katy calls her exercise or movement plan “Nutritious Movement” and breaks down the exercises into “macronutrients” (larger movements) and “micronutrients” (smaller , isolated or corrective movements). The macronutrients include things we do (or should be doing more of) throughout our day, such as:
- Squatting and Floor Sitting
- Lifting or Carrying
- Hanging, Swinging or Climbing
The bulk of the book is the MOVE section, where Katy gives us the exercises with detailed descriptions and great photos of each one. I am not going to go into detail on the exercises provided because then this review will be too long to read! The MOVE section begins with exercises we have seen in Katy’s books before. She begins by talking of the feet as the foundation to the core, and details how to stand properly as well as finding neutral femurs, neutral pelvis and how to better align the ribcage.
She then moves onto working on freeing the arms. Often we move through the day in such a way that our arm movements are pulling the ribcage out of alignment, thus displacing the abdominal muscles and pulling on the linea alba. She gives some great stretches and movement exercises that focus on moving the arms while keeping the ribs down and the abdominals working to stabilize, no matter what the arms are doing. These exercises are meant to separate the arms from the ribcage and the ribcage from the pelvis.
The MOVE section then goes into “Medium Moves” which are more challenging or use larger body parts such as the legs. These include exercises to release the Psoas, working on executing a proper lunge, and a few abdominal exercises (which is probably not what we are used to seeing. There are no crunches! Hallelujah!).
The “Big Moves” section is mostly focused on abdominal strength but not with exercises like crunches. Rather, this section works on why your core muscles are weak – because they have been used very little. This section is not about taking 10 minutes or an hour to do some ab work, but rather how you use your abs throughout your day. One of the simplest ways we can strengthen our abdominals throughout the day is how we sit. Sit properly, sit less and sit differently.
The “Big Moves” section focuses on all the ways we should be moving throughout the day but have lost due to our society today where we spend so much time sitting. Sitting in traffic, sitting at desks, sitting on the couch watching TV, etc. I think we have all heard how sitting is the new smoking, in regards to the dangers it puts on our health. Katy goes into detail about how we should be moving constantly throughout our day including: walking, standing, hanging, swinging, and carrying.
As I mentioned, I did learn a little more about Diastasis Recti and the forces and habits that can cause it. The movements and exercises in this book were nothing new to me, as I have read all of Katy’s other books. I would highly recommend this book if you are unfamiliar with DR, or have a client with DR, as it can give you some great ideas on how to help the client, as well as correcting the faulty movement patterns that have brought them to this point. In general, I thought this was a great book, it is a short and easy read, but having read all of her other books, there just wasn’t any “aha moments” for me.
If you have read Katy Bowman’s other books, but are curious about DR, I would recommend finding another book first. If you are interested in DR, but have not read her other books, then I would highly recommend starting with this book. Katy is so smart in how she helps us to move and she writes in a humorous way that keeps you interested in what she has to say.