Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Body by Triplets: The abs and back edition

A long time ago, in a land far away, abdominal exercises were an important part of my workouts.  I've been trying to carve out time after I run for crunches but now I have to wonder if I'm completely wasting my time.  And this has nothing to do with the fact that when I mention crunches, I feel like others wrinkle up their noses at the thought.  Crunches are so 1998.  Are they though?

My ab muscles now are an absolute mess.  If you're into fitness at all, you know that a strong core is necessary for a strong back.  I now have an extremely weak core (due to diastasis recti) ,which means that my back gives me a lot of trouble.  For example, I can only last 7, maybe 8 minutes, standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes before I have to sit down and stretch out my back because I'm in so much pain.  A few years ago, my primary care physician confirmed that my back pain was as a result of the ab muscle mess.  She told me that surgery is the only way to fix it.

Because of other physical damage that occurred when Abbey was born (they pulled her out with forceps so use your imagination), my doctor suggested that I see another doctor for potential repair surgery and that maybe both surgeries could be completed at the same time.  I shut down at that point. The thought of recovering from that is frightening.

I've mentioned some of this before here.  I guess I'm bringing it up again because I'm frustrated with my situation.  I'm constantly reading conflicting information regarding abdominal muscle separation and exercise.  Some say that crunches can cause more damage.  My doctor, for the record, said that I could crunch away without worrying about making it worse.  She did add, however, that I won't see any improvement. 

I can't be the only one out there with this problem.  Is surgery really our only option?  Unfortunately, right now I think it is.  I sometimes like to dream that I'm this superstar and a few years from now, I can show everyone that my midsection did improve, even if only a little bit, just from exercise.  Dream away, Sarah....


*I want to note that I'm lucky to have carried triplets to 36 weeks.  I wouldn't change that for anything.   

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have u read the Texas tales blog she has quads and I know she has some kind of abdominal surgery maybe u can ask her

Wendy said...

Well, you know for me it was the only option. Not just for the muscle repair (which has made me so much stronger) but for the removal of the excess skin. I was told by my surgeon that you can keep your muscles strong, but in cases like ours there's nothing that will bring them back together. I don't do crunches often any more but I do hold planks which help. I know the thought of surgery and recovery are really terrifying, but I can tell you, it's very worth it.

Anonymous said...

Try the Tupler technique first (google it to see if there is a class in your area)- might as well see if it works for you before surgery! I had twins and just started the program. I feel MUCH better and have seen great improvement :-)

Nancy
schaeferclan(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

Sarah said...

Wendy - I have skin issues too. And no belly button - lol. I've tried planks but I have to be careful or else my back ends up sore for the rest of the day. I had a bad experience coming out of surgery 20 years ago and I still haven't forgotten it. And I'm afraid of the pain and the time off from work... why can't life be easy?

Lacey said...

If you want to do more than just the standard crunch you can try an AbMat. I bought mine here: http://www.roguefitness.com/ab2-firm-abmat.php
It has really helped me get more out of crunching plus you can do back raises as well. (I don't work for them, just a really satisfied customer.)
Good luck!

Lily said...

If only you had a reality show. When Jon & Kate + 8 were on TV, they gave Kate a great tummy tuck!

robin said...

I think you can explore physical therapy before surgery. I had minor diastasis recti after carrying my twins and saw a physical therapist for a few weeks and was able to get it to go somewhat back together. She told me crunches are BAD unless you do them the right way, and most people don't. Doing them the wrong way can make it worse. But my diastasis was very minor. I don't know what the limits of physical therapy are. Good luck :)

Unknown said...

Another triplet mom had the same surgery here is what she wrote after it was complete. I think you can probably find another post or two about it earlier. http://pyjammy.com/surgery-the-details/

JEN said...

I hear you! I've lost 84 lbs and had 2 C-sections and my abs are shot! My husband offerred a tummy tuck, but who has time for that?

pyjammy pam said...

What about wearing a binder for support? I wonder if that would even help.

Truthfully, the surgery recovery wasn't THAT bad. No worse than a c/s, for me. But I thought your doc sewed your muscles back together? Or just some of them? Ugh.

Sarah said...

Pam - he sewed some back together but I still looked 9 months pregnant after the c/s so there wasn't much he could do. I think he got the ones down low near the incision.

I'm afraid of that surgery for many reasons. Pain being one.

erinlaughs said...

Here's another mom's diastasis story - http://nikinikinine.blogspot.com/search/label/diastasis

She did a ton of ab exercises, but overall it didn't change much for her.

Mrs. Oat said...

FYI - http://www.bikinibodymommy.com/2013/04/diastasis-recti-101-why-some-moms-shouldnt-do-crunches.html

Anonymous said...

Like you, I am so grateful for carrying twins full-term, but my back was a mess beforehand (torn ligament and also serious muscle weakness in my upper back) but the pregnancy weight gain and no activity for 9 months made it a lot worse. It was so bad after I had my twins I could not nurse and I had trouble even carrying the kids. My diastasis was not too serious at least. I have tried just about everything - chiropractic, PT, acupuncture, massage, pain mgmt doctor - and finally started taking TRX classes recommended by an orthopedic surgeon, Google them and see what you think. Even twice a week (I know you don't have much free time :-) made a huge difference in my back and core strength, and thus made the pain so much better, so maybe it could for you. I realized that the weakness was really contributing to the pain and getting stronger was the only thing that would help. -Jan

Claire said...

Hi Sarah

Longtime lurker, first time poster. I recently came across this company (http://fit2b.us/how-to-check-for-diastasis-hd/). It was recommended by Kayse Pratt (writer who writes at KaysePratt.com).

You may want to look into that? I personally haven't used them but thought if it could help you, then that's good. They definitely recommend you avoid crunches etc.

Hope you can find something, back pain is the worst!!! Working long hours at a computer doesn't help much either. (I'm an accountant too).

:)

Jenn P said...

First of all....you are a total rockstar for carrying trips for that long! Seriously! I had 2 twin pregnancies, and while I need to do some serious ab work to build strength again, I am relatively ok. However, I do know someone who also separated her ab muscles and was having severe back pain. Unfortunately, surgery was her only option. The plus side is, it helped her tremendously! ~Jenn

www.twobytwomom.com

Katie McKinster said...

I had the same thing as you after twins. I could stick my fist between my abs. I started doing Pilates which really helped but they were not perfect. I got a personal trainer and he would take a towel and wrap it around my stomach and pull it to one side while I did crunches and then switch. After doing that once a week for 6 months to a year it has gone down greatly I can still stick my fingers in between but not a fist.

Anonymous said...

have you looked into the MuTu System?