Abdominal SeparationI once met a client who came to my postnatal Pilates classes who had all 3 of these things:

1) Abdominal separation (3 finger width gap above and below the navel)
2) Pelvic floor weakness (she was wetting herself on impact), and
3) An umbilical hernia (diagnosed by her GP)

I’ve rehabilitated and lessened the symptoms all of these 3 issues in a lot of women (and men) over the past few years.

They’re all linked.


Let me explain a little further:


The human body has 3 cavities:

1) thoracic (chest and ribcage area)
2) abdomen
3) pelvic

If you have too much pressure building up in one of those cavities, there are 3 ways of that pressure is going places once it’s reached the pressure cooker stage:

1) Up
2) Out, and/or
3) Down

What?! Once again, that pressure rises up and up and up until it disperses:

1) up into the diaphragm (hello hiatus hernia where part of your stomach pushes up into the chest)
2) out through the belly button (hey presto – abdominal separation and/or umbilical hernia)
3) down onto the pelvic floor (that’s pelvic floor dysfunction and/or inguinal/femoral hernia right there)

One of things I teach, recap and educate over and over about constantly in my pregnancy exercise and postnatal exercises classes is correct breathing.

The first thing I do when I see a new private client for postnatal personal training or is check out their breathing mechanics.


If, when you take a breath in, you feel your chest and/or your belly lift/distend first on that inhalation – that is NOT optimal.Core

Thoracic breathing, where you fill your lungs up and the rib cage cavity they’re sitting in first is the most optimal way of getting oxygen into the body.

Considering we take 20-25,000 breaths a day, can you now see how if you continue to breathe into your chest or belly, those breaths are just attributing to the issue, that pressure keeps building up and up, and your pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasis recti (abdominal separation) and/or hernia is going nowhere?


I like the number 3, so continuing with this theme, let me ask you 3 questions and I’ll list my associated answers:

1) Do you sit at a desk all day, working at a computer, writing and/or use equipment that requires you to hold your arms and hands out in front of you all the time?

That equals = rounded shoulders, tight chest and forward head posture.

2) When you sit down do you sit on the back of your pelvis, with your tailbone tucked underneath you?

That leads to tight pelvic floor muscles. This is not great if you’re pregnant right now and want to push a baby out through your vag. And, if you’re postnatal and have pelvic floor weaknesses, a tight muscle isn’t able to re-gain strength (ie it won’t get stronger to enable you to stop wetting yourself), without first lengthening it (in this case your pelvic floor). So, in both cases, what your pelvic floor needs is ‘releasing’.

3) When you catch yourself slumping or slouching, whether it’s seated or standing, do you automatically lift up your chest to accommodate and re-set yourself?

Ok, so this is known as rib thrusting. You’re physically displacing the base of the front of your rib cage out in front of you. This leads to upper back pain and an abdominal unit that’s no longer functioning, because you keep moving the ribs away from the pelvis, day-in-day-out, lifting that rib cage further away from the pelvis. How can your core switch on if you keep moving the muscle attachments away from one another…? It ain’t.

Got it? Ok, so technically, that was 4 questions, and I promise I have just one more now.personaltraining

Can you lessen your chances of getting abdominal separation, pelvic floor dysfunction or a hernia? Sure. Just re-read this article and start applying the tips.

I cover all of these issues in the same informal yet informative way in my pregnancy exercise and postnatal Pilates classes, so if you’re not already booked on, what’s stopping you?

Prefer to see me 1-2-1, book a personal training session during pregnancy here.

If you’ve had your baby recently and you resonated with any of the above, follow this link where I’ll set you an individualised plan of attack post-birth to rehab your tummy, pelvic floor and/or hernia.