Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flat Abs and No Crunches? (Heal Your Diastasis Recti) An Interview with Julie Tupler (You Really Ought to Read This)

I want tight abs. Okay, I have them. You can't quite see them under the little layer of fat that I have, but that's okay, I'm working on it. Really, everyone wants a nice tight tummy, jeans without any pinch around the waist. So they do what they're told - they do crunches. Crunch, crunch, crunch, and then, Ow! they're neck hurts. Or maybe their lower back. 

Guess what? After reading this, you won't want to do a crunch again (not that you ever did), and you will have new ab exercises that will strengthen your whole core. Oh glory!

I loved being pregnant. I remember feeling slightly nauseous for the first three months, but after that I felt amazing. I wanted my pregnancy to be the best it could be. I chose a midwife for my pregnancy care and to deliver my baby, started prenatal yoga, and made sure to eat really well. 

The one thing I didn't know about is something I wish I had. Ab work. I'm not talking about crunches, I'm talking about using the transverse abdominis, the inner ab muscles that wrap around the belly horizontally, to hold my rectus abdominis (more commonly known as the six pack) in place as my belly expanded. By just holding the abs in, pulling belly to back, for example, is one of the basic motions.

When I found out about this technique, called the Tupler Technique, I immediately signed up for a one-day training class. During the class, the students tested each other (and then Julie checked us) and I was thrilled to find that I had no separation. I'd started doing something called "Lose Your Mummy Tummy," Julie Tupler's DVD a couple of months before. Clearly, it worked.

Today, I am honored to share this information with you. Whether you've had babies or not, this technique is great for everybody. Even men.

BF: I am honored to be discussing diastasis recti with you Julie. You are famous for helping women all over NYC, and the country, lose their "mummy tummy" and help strengthen their abs after giving birth. Dr. Oz has called you an expert on diastasis recti, yet most people have no idea what it is. Would you please explain what it is and what it's caused by?

JT: A diastasis recti is a separation of the outermost abdominal muscles. When the muscles separate the connective tissue that joins the two muscles stretches sideways.  A diastasis is caused by a forceful forward pressure on the weak part of this connective tissue (belly button). There are two types of forceful forward pressures. One is the growing uterus and the other is doing abdominals incorrectly (i.e. crunches, Pilates 100s) 

BF: When I took your class and we check ourselves and our class partners for diastasis recti, I was surprised that some of the women with flat six-pack abs had a huge separation. They said they were masters at doing crunches, which is a big part of the problem, right?

JT: Yes, doing crunches causes a diastasis. The problem is that when the women trainers that have a diastasis get pregnant they will start the pregnancy with this diastasis. The combination of the growing uterus and softening of the connective tissue during pregnancy will make the diastasis much worse. When checking for a diastasis you are checking for the distance between the two muscles and the condition of the connective tissue. The deeper the hand goes in when checking the diastasis, the weaker the connective tissue. The weaker the connective tissue the less support there is for the organs....thus the mummy tummy or the cone belly. 

BF: I always see people in the gym, doing crunches on decline benches, or on the floor, and I just want to tell them, "You are hurting yourself. Stop!" They have sore necks and sore backs, and really aren't strengthening anything. What are exercises that are good for the abs?

JT: The Tupler Technique exercises are good for both the abs and the back. Doing crunches bulges the disks in the wrong direction. The Tupler Technique is 4 steps.The first step is the 3 exercises. The two seated ones (The Elevator, the Contracting) and the Headlift in a backlying position.

Gravity makes it hard to feel the core muscle (transverse muscle) working in a backlying position. That is why it is important to strengthen this muscle in a seated position first where you can feel it working..... so that when you get to a backlyling position you can then feel it. The Headlift strengthens the recti muscle from the top, middle and the bottom of the muscle. When you do a crunch it only shortens the recti from the top and the bottom. The middle of the muscle will go forward forcefully. So if you have a diastasis it will get bigger. If you don't have one you will create one. 

BF: Can women do the Tupler Technique while pregnant? 

JT: Absolutely. I have been doing the Tupler Technique with pregnant women since 1990. Strengthening the abdominals with this technique  during pregnancy will prevent back problems, promote more effective pushing in labor and the recovery of the abdominals after the pregnancy will be faster. We check women for a diastasis in the first and last class of the 6-week Maternal Fitness workshop. If women follow the program and do the exercises their diastasis will get smaller......The Tupler Technique has research from Columbia University to support this.  

BF: It would seem that this technique not only benefits moms and moms-to-be, but the whole population. Is that true?

JT: Yes, when I was doing the Tupler Technique with the general population before I started working with pregnant women and new moms my clients backs felt much better in just three days.  When you close the diastasis is then makes the waist smaller. Another benefit of the Tupler Technique.

BF: So let's say someone has diastasis recti (four finger separation), should they use a splint? Some sources say that the splint prevents strengthening from occurring. Please tell us about splinting.

JT: Yes. I recommend anyone with a 3 finger or more diastasis should wear a splint. The purpose of splinting is to approximate (pull together) the two separated muscles. When you pull the muscles together it makes the starting position of the muscles and connective tissue closer and thus helps heal the connective tissue and makes the exercises more effective.

BF: How soon will someone see the benefits of doing the Tupler Technique?

JT: We recommend that they do the program for 6 weeks.  If a person has a small diastasis and very shallow connective tissue they may be able to close it in 6 weeks. If they have a large diastasis and very weak connective tissue they will not close it but will see it getting smaller. Many people see benefits after a couple of weeks. I am in the process of putting together a research study on this topic of the length of time to close a diastasis. 

BF: Where can someone go to learn the Tupler Technique? 

JT: If someone lives in NYC they of course can see me or my trainers. I also train medical and fitness professionals all over the US the Tupler Technique. They are listed on my website under trainers in your area. These trainers have taken a 3 day intensive training and passed a written and demonstration exam.  Someone can also watch the Lose Your Mummy Tummy DVD or read the Lose Your Mummy Tummy book.  

Julie Tupler, RN Certified Childbirth Educator and Fitness Instructor. Founded Maternal Fitness program and have been working exclusively with pregnant women and new moms since 1990.  Advisory board member of Fit Pregnancy. Author of Maternal Fitness and Lose Your Mummy Tummy books and dvds. For more information, please visit www.DiastasisRehab.com       

No comments:

Post a Comment