My abs split during pregnancy to make space for my bump to grow. I cried. I like my abs.
My abs made me cry again post birth, as they increased my section pain.
Now, post birth, they’re still split. I have a 2cm gap. The NHS thinks that’s fine, add it to the list of female sacrifice for kids. I don’t think that’s fine, and thankfully, I have private healthcare, so I’m getting specialist physio. I had to fight for it. At first BUPA said no as they don’t cover pregnancy (sexist I think, but for another day). I complained. They gave me six sessions.
Anyway, I thought I’d share the exercises I’ve been given. IN NO WAY AM I A PROFESSIONAL. Nor would a professional give all women with split abs these exercises, but they’re what a professional women’s health physio has given me. Please tell me if any of these is unclear. I’ll try and describe it differently. My appointments are fortnightly hence the odd week numbering.
Lie on your back for all of these:
1. From your hip bones, put your fingers one inch towards your tummy, then one inch down towards your pubic bone. This is to feel the muscle you want to engage. Now pull in that muscle. Hold for 5 seconds. Let go. Repeat 10x. This was weird for me. I hadn’t used this muscle since getting pregnant and I couldn’t engage it properly at first.
2. With your tummy engaged (number 1.) bend your knees, feet flat. Let one knee fall outwards, 45 degrees towards the floor. Bring that knee back up to the middle. Repeat on the other side. Repeat 10x.
3. Do number 1. with your hands on each side of your waist, pushing your tummy muscles together. Repeat 10x.
4. With your tummy engaged (number 1.) bend your knees, hip width apart, feet flat. Lift up gently to touch the inside of your left knee with your right fingers. Push your fingers against your knee for a few seconds. Lie back, now lift up gently to touch the inside of your right knee with your left fingers. Push your fingers against your knee for a few seconds. Repeat 10x.
Still lie on your back for all of these.
Discontinue 1. and 2. above.
Continue 3. and 4. above.
5. With your tummy engaged (number 1.) bend your knees, feet flat. Slowly push one heel away from your body until your leg is flat. Bring that leg back to bent. Do the same with the other leg. Repeat 10x.
6. With your tummy engaged (number 1.) bend your knees, feet flat. Keep both arms straight down by your sides. Lift up your straight arms a few inches from the floor and do small rotations (this helps engage your core). Bring one heel towards your body by an inch, then lift up your foot so your leg is bent at the knee, with your ankle lifted 90 degrees in line with your knee. Keep your tummy engaged as you return your foot to the floor. Do the other side. Repeat 10x.
Continue 3. 4. 5. and 6. above.
The following are for back strength.
7. Lie on your side, arm straight under your head, knees bent so your ankles are in line with your spine. You should be straight from your hand, through head, through spine, through ankles. If you’re lying on your right side, tilt your left hip down towards your heels. This should lift your waist off the floor slightly. Lift the top knee to create a clam shape. Hold for a few seconds and return your knee down to the floor. Repeat on the other side. Tilt your right hip when lying on your left side. Repeat 10x.
8. Lie on your front, elbows out, hands either side of your head. Lift one foot to make your leg bent at the knee. Aim for a 90 degree leg shape. Raise your heel an inch or two from the ground. Gently return your foot to the ground, so your leg is straight. Repeat with the other side. Repeat 10x.
9. On your hands and knees, arms under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Start at your bum bone and arch your spine, vertebrae by vertebrae. Dip your head slightly. Now again starting at your bum bone, flex your spine, vertebrae by vertebrae. Lift your head slightly. Repeat 10x.
I’ve got three more sessions so I’ll update this once I’m done. Again, let me know if any of that is bafflingly unclear. And again, I’m not a pro. And a pro wouldn’t necessarily tell all women with split abs to do these exercises, but they’re what a pro has told me.
Also, my pro told me to always engage my core (number 1. above) when I lift or carry anything. I think this has helped me enormously. My tummy is definitely flatter than when I started. My ab gap is still there, but it might always be. These exercises can only encourage my abs to reunite. They can’t guarantee that they will.