March 14, 2019
Awareness. Awareness is a beautiful thing… AND sometimes a painful thing. For instance, when your 5-year old becomes aware of that “baby in your belly” and you are five years POST-partum. Even before, my own personal awareness had begun growing. I was tired, moody. Intercourse was painful. Life took a lot of effort. And I knew something needed to change. Let me share my experience and you may be able to relate; hopefully no one ever asked you about the “baby in your belly,” but perhaps you might find similarities in the journey for optimal health.
During the five years after the birth of my youngest child, I just assumed I still had baby weight to work off. I had dutifully waited the recommended six weeks to return to the gym, not fully recognizing that my body had, er… changed. I did begin to notice during crunches that my abdominal wall was creating an odd “brick-like” mound down my midsection. It started just below my ribs and ended just past my belly button. So, I did what anyone would do and Googled my symptoms! A brief search and I promptly self-diagnosed myself with a condition called diastasis recti, which is basically when your abdominal walls separate during pregnancy or during labor pushing (see illustration below). I gave birth to three nine-pound baby boys, so it was an easy diagnosis to accept.
Naturally, my next step was to find a solution to that problem.
I took this new-found information to my OB. I was shocked (and disappointed) when she really didn’t seem concerned… at all. She did confirm and officially diagnose me with diastasis recti of the abdominal walls. Unfortunately, it was considered a “cosmetic issue” since it rarely includes pain or discomfort. I was told the only way to correct the separation was to undergo surgery, which again, was considered cosmetic and not covered by insurance. I definitely did not like the idea of undergoing surgery, however, being a very active individual I was also not okay with the idea that my core would always be compromised and weak. I began wondering how this would affect my overall abilities as I aged. After all, your core really is the CORE to almost ALL of your physical capabilities, right?!
So, back to Google I went. I learned that there were exercises to correct my condition, but after reading a second article I learned that those same exercises could make the condition WORSE! So, there I was caught in the middle of two conflicting schools of thought, each one blasting the other claiming more damage would ensue with or without those recommended movements. I had awareness, but no answers. My resolve was faltering and I began to wonder if any of it really mattered, maybe it would be just fine. So, I decided NOT to decide. It was easier, but my issues persisted.
After some time, in a last-ditch attempt, I went back to my doctor and this time I specifically asked if physical therapy could help. She reluctantly referred me to the therapists across the hall and while they were unable to treat me, they referred me to Dunn Physical Therapy, who “specialize in women’s health.” The clouds parted and the angels sang! I finally had a direction and I made my appointment the very same day. It felt right.
The day of my appointment, I was put under the care of Erin Wilson, MPT. I proceeded to bombard her with all kinds of questions: Do I really have diastasis recti? Is there non-surgical treatment? Is this other issue related? I think I broke my tailbone years ago and it still aches on occasion, do you know why? Could this be the cause of occasional pain during intercourse? And on and on. Erin was great. She was patient and knowledgeable. She gave me hope and the reassurance that peeing on oneself “even just a little bit” was NOT normal and completely correctable. I left with a 6-week treatment plan and the reassurance that someone else was vested in helping me heal.
With that plan for success set in motion, a dear friend set me up for another health win. She introduced me to a wonderful nutritional rebalancing program, and suggested I look into how an anti-inflammatory detox lifestyle could help me relieve my current issues and could prevent new ones from arising. In my quest for better health, I started the program and learned what food groups give my body energy and which food groups actually deplete my energy stores. How had I never made the connection between food and potential energy LOSS??? The result was 30 pounds of weight release, massive increase in energy, mood elevation and less aches... and that's just naming a few of my favorite results. Check out the before and after pics below:
With the support of my physical therapist Erin, and that loving suggestion from my friend, I found a powerful treatment plan that is simple enough to make a way of life. By learning new ways to move and strengthen my body and improving how I fuel my body, I am confident in my abilities as I age. For example, I still had the posture of a nine-month pregnant woman, so Erin taught me how to stand properly. She taught me to always be aware of my pelvis position and the position of my rib cage. They seemed like teeny tiny shifts, but over the six weeks I saw the results I was seeking. I even discovered from completing the nutritional program that gluten triggers an inflammatory response in my tailbone and was responsible for random pain at times of intimacy.
Be aware, not in denial. Seek direction, don’t be dismissed. Be willing to make a few changes. I did and I could not be happier with my results. Bonus: I no longer pee on myself (not even just a little bit). Hallelujah!
I can see how it is all beautifully interconnected — physical therapy and nutrition. Our bodies are amazing machines capable of so much healing. Thank you Dunn Physical Therapy for empowering your clients with knowledge and teaching us gently how to heal our bodies.
Kelly Stariha, mother of three boys, wife to her husband of fifteen years, and a self-proclaimed “foodie." Together Kelly and her husband have investigated a number of nutritional programs and found significant results with a program they have combined with better movement and exercise. Kelly helps others learn how to keep their bodies vital while avoiding chronic disease through nutritional consultation and hosts a weekly clean eating LIVE cooking demo at her family's restaurant.
Check in with her by texting or emailing her at 502-645-2068 or firstname.lastname@example.org.