Hello beautiful ladies (and handsome men- I know men can have a Diastasis too),
You are probably reading this because you have a Diastasis Recti and you may be looking for an alternative to surgery. You may also be wondering if you can do your Beachbody workouts with a Diastasis. Back when I found out about my Diastasis, I had to do a lot of research on google- you can imagine all the time spent trying to figure it all out. I truly want to simplify your life and your time so I wrote a review of the top two programs marketed for a Diastasis Recti: Tupler vs Mutu.
I was so devastated by my Diastasis Recti and all the problems that come with it and the limitations I had. But now I’m on the other side, and there is HOPE! Sending you hugs- please feel free to ask me questions! I want to help you on your journey to heal your Diastasis and then ultimately- get in the best shape of your life!
The Tupler Technique
The Tupler technique focuses on bringing your rectus muscles back together through targeted ab exercises for your transverse abdominal muscle. However, this can very easily be undone. In addition, Julie Tupler has exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. During this program, you can not do any other type of exercise as your connective tissue needs time to heal.
- The Science: In her program she spends a lot of time educating you with the science behind her program. She is an RN like me so I loved this part of her program.
- Splinting: She does have you wear her Tupler Splint 24/7 (except for bathing). When you purchase this program you need to get this splint separately, unless you get the whole package. This splint is uncomfortable if you have to move around a lot, but I found it very helpful when sitting for long periods or standing for long periods as it helped provide back support. The purpose of the splint is not to bring your muscles back together. Instead, it helps provide time for your connective tissue to heal.
- Nutrition: Proper nutrition is also necessary for healing. The Tupler technique does not come with a nutrition guide.
- The Exercises: I did find it hard to figure out exactly what I was supposed to do. She demonstrates exactly what you need to do, but when it comes down to doing the actual program, you are doing it on your own. Once you get it down it is a plus because you can do it anywhere: in the car, at lunchtime, etc. However, I did have to spend a lot of time pressing play and pause just writing down the instructions for every week. You do these exercises three times a day. While each exercise doesn’t necessarily take long and you can do it anywhere, I found it hard to keep up with due to my crazy schedule (12 hour shifts as a nurse) and having a baby to take care of when I was home.
My Results: I started with this program in March 2013. The exercises for your transverse abdominal muscle are EXCELLENT! When I first started doing them it was like discovering abdominal muscles I didn’t even know I had. It was a completely different feeling than crunches and feeling the burn. I started with a 2 finger width and successfully closed the gap in 4 months. If your goal is to close the gap- yes, I recommend this program. But know that you will need to do these exercises for LIFE. Once you finish the program it is important to continue because there is always that risk of reopening the gap and the potential for further injury (such as hernia).
The downside of Tupler? Besides the splint which is helpful but also uncomfortable, the amazing results don’t last UNLESS you keep doing these exercises. I was happy that the gap officially closed, but I was constantly aware that anything could reopen my diastasis again. I started doing Focus T25 and quickly realized that I did not have any core strength. Doing push-ups and planks made me strain and I felt like I was going to fall apart- YES, even though my gap was CLOSED. I could feel that pressure like it was going to reopen. I worked so hard for those 4 months using the Tupler Technique to close my gap- I seriously wasn’t about to go and open that up again! I wore the splint when I started Focus T25 to help remind me to contract my transverse abdominal muscles during the entire program- and it did help a lot and I got a good workout! I just couldn’t do the push-ups or planks…
The Mutu System
- The Science: The Science part of the program is very educational. Wendy explains the reason for alignment as well as other things.
- Splinting– there is no splinting in this program
- Nutrition: The 12 week program does come with a food guide which is awesome. She gives you healthy substitutions for food as well as good ideas of what to eat.
- The Gap & other Symptoms: Wendy Powell says the problem isn’t the gap so if you don’t completely close it, it’s no big deal. With Mutu, you learn more about alignment and she will take you from beginner exercises to intense exercises where you can potentially do a plank. Urinary incontinence is also another symptom. Wendy says that leaking is never normal (even though it is very common). Urinary incontinence can be a symptom of poor alignment and intra- abdominal pressure. A hernia is also caused by intra abdominal pressure. Both alignment and core training will reverse these symptoms.
- Here is a quote from Wendy: “First – remember the gap is a guide to your core stability – it is not the holy grail or the main problem – it is a symptom – not the root problem. DR is a whole body problem which needs a whole body solution to fix for the long term. All the alignment adjustments + exercises + stretches in Focus are designed to reduce that pressure. The program makes your middle work again by adjusting pressure + training your core to function. The gap closing is a by-product of that process.”
- The Exercises: The exercises focus on the transverse abdominal muscle, as well as our whole bodies, so that, although our gap may remain, our bodies are strong and tummies are flat. Wendy will show you in her blog that her gap is not completely closed, yet she has a strong core and flat tummy. She has you do a lot of squats as it is great for the pelvic floor. To have a strong pelvic floor you need a strong BUTT! It starts you at a beginner’s level where you are doing simple stretches- but don’t underestimate the power of these stretches as they serve a purpose and help with alignment. The exercises are very practical to everyday movement as well taking you from a girl push-up to being able to do a plank- all without causing injury. The initial Focus exercises seem very tame (6 minutes of stretching)- but if you do it daily, it works! I know that because when I got to the intensive exercises I did a push-up for the first time with a strong core. It is not a fat blasting workout (I am picturing Insanity or TurboFire here), but it does get your heart rate up and still an overall good workout. I feel awesome when I’m done!
- What Wendy has to say about the Focus Exercises: “They have been very specifically designed to adjust the biomechanical alignment of your body to take the pressure off which causes these problems . The alignment shifts, the walking, the butt untucking, the core engagement + pelvic floor lifting + the stretches + the exercises – they are what will put your core where you need it to be so that it can then go onto more intensive exercise.”
- Planks and Push-ups: The 12 week Mutu program includes planks in the intensive phases, but it teaches you to build up to them. However, even full or modified planks and push-ups are out if you have bulging, doming or pooching, and are best avoided in the early stages of the program. The key component to a core is the Focus exercises. The intensive phases include these push-ups and planks- however, if your core isn’t strong enough, it is best to avoid them and focus on the non-intensive exercises. In the article here, Wendy addresses the question: When can I do crunches and planks again?
- Surgery: Sometimes surgery is the only way to close the gap- if that’s what you are wanting. But keep in mind that the ultimate goal is a strong core. In a lot of surgeries they will use mesh which has been controversial. I personally have a friend who is struggling because of the mesh they used in her body. Keep in mind that surgery will fix the symptom “the gap”, but if your alignment is off, it won’t correct the pressure pushing outwards.
- Per Wendy, “Abdominal surgery very often needs to be re-done – the hernia, the DR, the prolapse – these are issues that very often reoccur after surgery. The reason is that the symptom was addressed not the cause. So..needing surgery is a personal decision but it is still vital to make sure we have effectively reversed that pressure before it will be truly effective anyway.”
I feel much more confident in moving forward in my health and fitness journey. I’m sharing Mutu with everyone I know- especially you who are reading this article and probably wondering what program to get for your Diastasis! Honestly, I would recommend Mutu even for those who don’t have a diastasis. Learning how to properly engage your core and align your body as well as a clean diet is important for EVERYONE! If I would have known how to properly engage my core at the beginning, I bet I would have prevented my DR, or at least not made it worse with exercise after pregnancy. My gap is completely closed, I have a flat tummy, my core is strong! I’m confident that I’m not just going to go out and re-open it once I start back up with my favorite fitness programs.