Will wearing a waist trainer worsen my Diastasis Recti?

I don't know about you, but when I researched this I got so many conflicting messages it did my head in!

Some people promote binders and others say definitely not!

The truth of the matter is it is probably somewhere in between - isn't that always the case with information on Diastasis Recti!!!

 

Drives me batty - first nobody tells you about it, and then when you finally find out about it everyone says something different!

So, I have researched the "heck" out of this and below is what I found.

For those of you who don't like reading - and just want me to cut to the chase this is the key finding:

Abdominal binding (note I said binding and not waist training - this is a KEY difference!!! ) is not all bad.

There can be a time and place for it, but it’s not right for everyone and it’s certainly not right for long term core strength and creating an optimal functional functional body!

But please I urge you to read on!

So with any recovery program the goal is to gain optimal movement and function in your body.

After having a baby, you may feel like you have no control of your core at all, you may even feel like your insides are going to fall out!
This is due to the stretching of your ligaments to make room for that little bundle of joy you just bought into this world.
And with each pregnancy the ligament laxity increases, so even if you bounced back quickly after the first you may find a difference with your second or third.

At this point it might be a good idea to grab a binder just to help you feel a little more secure for the first few days - maybe the belt you used during your pregnancy.

Should you wear this long term? NO!!!

Once you start getting a little core control back (after about 2-6 weeks) you should then remove the binder so you give your body the chance to heal naturally and gain strength.

What if you have severe Diastasis Recti?

If you have severe Diastasis Recti AND are suffering from back pain a binder may help you ... but there are risks with this as well so make sure you read on .....

You could also think about using kinesio tape which may be a lot better as it reduces some of the risks with a binder.

What are the risks with using a binder?

Too much pressure on the rest of your core

Your core is comprised of your diaphragm, rectus abdominis (6-pack abs), transverse abdominis and your pelvic floor.

They all work together - so when you squeeze on part of your core - look at what happens to the rest !!!

When people squeeze themselves in those waist trainers trying to get that hourglass figure they are putting pressure down on their pelvic floor (think peeing your pants when you cough or jump) or up into your diaphragm and into your esophagus.

Prolapse and hernias are the result of too much pressure, and they can be avoided by learning how to manage pressure properly. So we certainly don’t want something squeezing tight in the middle to mess up our cores pressure system.

Stops your normal breathing pattern, increasing cortisol levels

When we inhale, air fills our lungs and our belly, back and sides expand accordingly as our diaphragm contracts down into the abdominal cavity space.

But what happens if you are wearing a binder?

This pretty much forces you into using shallow breathing all the time. This can increase cortisol (the "stress hormone") levels.

You can see the full impact of increased cortisol here, but one side affect is increased abdominal fat - and I am fairly certain you don't want that!

When you breathe, you must be able to expand your midsection. Bottom line, a binder stops this expansion.

How do I know if I should wear a binder?

Ultimately the decision is yours, but here are a few points you should think about!

  • Are you using the binder for the right reasons?

 

Think about what happens if you break your leg and you have a cast on for 6 weeks - sure the bone has healed but what has happened to all the muscles surrounding it .... thats right they have weakened and shrunken. And with DR you are healing muscle and connective tissue NOT bone.
 

  • Are you changing how your body moves (posture, everyday movements, strengthening exercises) or are you simply adding a binder?

Similar to above, a quick term fix will never work. As with everything you need to put some work in to get the results you want - and it wont happen over night.

Think about the muscles you are trying to strengthen for your core, with your binder on, yes you are bring your RA muscles back together but what happens after you your take the binder off?

Have you strengthened the muscles surrounding it to keep that gap closed?

Or have you been dependent on the binder for your everyday movements and when it is off are those muscles going to be actually going to be weaker and in a few weeks or months are you going to be back where you started, or worse ....

It is human nature to take the easy way out and wearing a brace which makes us look better instantly and feel better instantly is definitely easy!

Fixing posture. Learning the correct exercises to do, and being consistent .... well now that is way harder! BUT in the long term you will be happy you did ....

Well unless you are ok with wearing a binder all the time, being stressed out and possibly increasing abdominal fat .....

I decided to wear a binder - which one should I choose?

If you decide to go down this route (either since you just had a baby, or have severe DR, or decide to wear one just for high impact cardio) then you need to know that not all binders are equal!

If is says "waist trainer" or "clincher", it's NOT what you're looking for!

You are looking for an abdominal binder or wrap that supports your body in its natural state whilst providing stability.

You are looking for something like this 3 panel binder - it shouldn't be expensive and you should be able to get it from amazon or a medical supply store.

To wear it, it must cover your hips, but must not cover your ribs, it should be looser at the top than the bottom, and it should not be worn too tightly.

I hope this has helped!
If you have any questions please put them in the comments below, and if you found this article valuable please share it with others.