Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Intraabdominal pressure: Good or Bad?

This is a controversial topic lately. I hear many suggesting that intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) is not good for you; therefore any support worn around the belly must be harmful...assuming it increases IAP, meaning it must put pressure on pelvic floor, causing prolapse, hemorrhoids, displacement of organs and diastasis. sounds terrible and makes sense right? Pressure causes problems?  And while I agree pressure can be bad, it can also be helpful.

FIRST... we need to recognize that there are different ways a person can engage their core.  There are many incorrect ways and only 1 correct way. This affects whether IAP stays more in the abdominal cavity or pelvic cavity.

SECOND..when a person engages their core correctly, IAP does increase slightly. When a person lifts a heavy weight and engages the core more, IAP increases even more.

Does that mean engaging the core is bad for you? Well we know that isn't true. The core needs to engage to provide a foundation for lifting and moving.

The questions we should be asking is:
1. What is causing the IAP?
2. Where is the IAP going when a person engages their core (abdominal, thoracic or pelvic cavity?)
3. Are the core muscles strong?
4. Is the pelvic floor lifting like it should when core engages?
5. How is the person engaging their core?
6. Are they using proper breathing mechanics?

This is what determines whether  IAP is helpful or damaging!

IAP does NOT automatically put pressure on the pelvic floor

When the CORE stabilization system (diaphragm, transverse abdominals, pelvic floor and multifidus) is reactive, the pelvic floor will lift when the TVA engages. This protects the pelvic floor and helps contain pressure in the abdominal cavity and off the pelvic floor.  It is this pressure when increased that helps stabilize the spine (lock it into place) when exerting force.

PRACTICE CORRECT WAY TO ENGAGE: Lift pelvic floor, breathe out as you engage abs. Where does the pressure go?  Up in the Abdominal Cavity off the pelvic floor. (If you are having trouble figuring out how to do this, you need to reconditioning your core)
Copyright 2015 MomBod Fitness, All Rights Reserved

IAP is what helps stabilize the spine 
so a person can lift heavier weights safely

If the pelvic floor is not responding (lifting) when the TVA engages (see pic below), then IAP may get pushed downward and put more pressure on the pelvic floor (like when a person has a bowel movement)..this of course is not a good thing. This is what contributes to peeing when lifting heavy weights.

PRACTICE WRONG WAY #1: Breathe out while engage abs in and "bear down" (like having a bowel movement) - where does the pressure go? Yes, down to the pelvic floor.

PRACTICE WRONG WAY #2: Hold breath, "bear down" without engaging the abs (belly bulges out instead). Where does the pressure go? Yes, down to the pelvic floor and out to the belly button. 

Copyright 2015 MomBod Fitness LLC, All Rights Reserved

Yes ladies, peeing when doing CrossFIT or lifting heavy weights is not a good thing. This can mean that the pelvic floor is not engaging like it should and pressure on the bladder is too much.

Picture a flat bike tire. Without the proper amount of air pressure, the tube walls are flimsy and weak.

Picture a filled bike tire, when air is contained and increased, the tube walls are strong and stable.

Increased IAP helps stabilize the spine

It is very difficult to increase too much IAP into the abdominal cavity when lifting weights. Especially when the walls (spine, muscles an fascia) are strong and stabilized. If someone who does not have a strong core decides to try and lift a very heavy weight, yes...they are at risk for lifting with incorrect alignment, pulling a muscle, causing a hernia or a herniated disc.

So is  IAP good or bad?

It depends on your breathing
It depends on your muscles ability (strength) to contain the pressure
It depends on where the pressure is going
It depends on what is causing the IAP

Learning to direct intra-abdominal pressure correctly will help:

  • reduce stress on pelvic floor
  • use core muscles efficiently
  • breathe efficiently
  • stabilize the spine

To say that all abdominal binders are bad for also a big assumption. Its like saying all ankle braces are bad for you. Again, it depends on what it's being used for; how it works, how much pressure is applied, how it is used and what the claims are. A person can wear an ankle brace too tight and restrict blood circulation and restrict too much motion.  There is a science to taping an ankle correctly. The same goes for abdominal supports, they can work differently! Some are flexible, some are stiff, some are fully adjustable, some are not, some are tall, some are short. It's very possible to wear an abdominal support and have the same amount of IAP applied as when someone engages their core. Its possible to have less, its possible to have more.   Again many variables, many differences.

We all want the simple answers, yet there are many variables that create a healthy or unhealthy pressure environment.

Celeste Goodson, owner of MomBod Fitnesshas worked in health and fitness settings for over 15 years as well as physical therapy and cardiac rehab. She has worked exclusively with pre and post natal moms for the last 5 years with ReCORE. She developed ReCORE and the FITsplint after realizing women can benefit from proper screening, testing, rebuilding and guidelines before returning to typical exercise. Celeste has a B.S. if Fitness and Wellness, is an ACE Cert. Medical Exercise Specialist; certified to train Pre and Post Natal women as well as those with musculokeletal, neuromuscular and metabolic conditions. 


Bartelink, D.L. (1957). The role of abdominal pressure on the lumbar intervertebral discs. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery [Br], 39, 718-736.

Sullivan, M.S. (1994). Lifting and back pain. In Twomey, L.T., & Taylor, J.R. Physical Therapy of the Low Back. (2nd ed.). New York: Churchill Livingstone, 329-356.

Thompson J,  O'Sullivan PBBriffa NKNeumann P (2006)Differences in muscle activation patterns during pelvic floor muscle contraction and Valsalva maneuver. Neurourol Urodyn., 25(2):148-55.

Cobb W, Burns J, Kercher K, Matthews B, James Norton H, Todd Heniford B. Normal intraabdominal pressure in healthy adults. J Surg Res. 2005;129:231–235. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2005.06.015.

O'Dell K, Morse ACrawford SHoward A 2007 Vaginal pressure during lifting, floor exercises, jogging, and use of hydraulic exercise machines.Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. Dec;18(12):1481-9. Epub 2007 May 22.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Running with Diastasis

Q. Can I run if I have diastasis?

A. There are a lot of women concerned about this. Truth is... running doesn't actually put a lot of outward pressure on the linea alba. Gravitational forces are going downward not forward. There is a little (and I mean little) bit of twisting motion. It's not going to make a separation worse, but may make it difficult to heal if your core is fairly weak.  In that case...take a break temporarily.  When you are working on shortening the diastasis with exercises/splinting, it is best to wait to run until you've reconditioned your core (about 6 weeks).   Often times women are dealing with other core weakness issues postpartum and should wait to run until the core is strengthened and stabilized.   If you have a big belly (greater than 5 months pregnant) there will be a little more outward pressure on the linea alba while running because there is pressure from the growing belly. If you wear a support however, that can greatly reduce any outward and downward stress/pressure.

Pregnant mom wearing the FITsplint while running

Here is a chart to help guide you......


less than 5 mths pregnant RUN FREE, do diastasis safe core exercises also
greater than 5 or 6 mths pregnant RUN with splint/support, continue diastasis safe core exercises
less than 3 mths postpartum RUN with caution, wear a splint/support run only after re-strengthen/stabilizing your core. 
greater than 3 mths postpartum RUN FREE after re-strengthening/stabilizing your core and have functional or resolved diastasis.
Copyright 2015 MomBod Fitness, LLC. All rights reserved.

Running is great exercise and safe with functional diastasis or ab separation as long as you are not dealing with any other issues/injuries.

Please see a health professional if you are dealing with prolapse symptoms, pelvic or hip pain or other injuries.

Happy Running! 

Join me on Facebook or Twitter!

Celeste Goodson is an ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist, Pre/ Post Natal Trainer, certified to train those with musculoskeletal, neuromuscular and metabolic conditions.  Celeste has a B.S. in Fitness and Wellness and has worked in physical therapy, cardiac rehab, and numerous fitness settings for over 15 years, exclusively training post natal women for the last 5 years.  Celeste has designed the ReCORE Program™  and the Maternity and Post-Natal FITsplint™  to help moms strengthen, support and splint the core during and after pregnancy for a more effective recovery. Celeste is a Boston Marathon qualifier, enjoys being outdoors and being with the family and friends.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mom with twins, c-section & diastasis

This mom is a GREAT example of what can happen when you proactively take care of the 4 weakness issues within the first few months postpartum. The fascia responds best to splinting and corrective exercise within the first several months post (this doesn't mean it won't respond just will be slower or the fascia may not respond, only the muscles will)

This mom had a c-section with her twins. She has 2 older children. She had a very large diastasis. She measured 5 1/4" at the belly button, 5 below and 4 above. Fascia was very lax. We started ReCORE at 4 weeks post with her OBGYN permission. She started using the FITsplint as well and was very consistent with wearing it (8 hrs a day and while sleeping for 6 weeks. I do not recommend 24/7).  After ReCORE, she was closed above the belly button, 2 1/2" at the belly button and closed below! The fascia was much tighter.

*Sometimes I see clients diastasis improve, but only because the muscles just engage closer together, which means they have functional diastasis (this is the goal if fascia doesn't respond). The ones that I train immediately postpartum I see the fascia respond well.

This moms fascia actually tightened up from a 5 to closed on top and bottom and just over 2 around the belly button!

My goal with ReCORE is for moms to:
1)Close the separation until the tissue doesn't respond (shorten any more)
2)Get the inner core unit activated and coordinated with pelvic floor, TVA and breathing
3)Teach proper form/alignment
4)Progressively strengthen the inner and outer core (improve INNER CORE STRENGTH TEST)
5)Understand how/when to move on to other core exercise with CORE EXERCISE GUIDELINES

Before ReCORE and FITsplint™ 
4, 5.25, 5    - Fingerwidth Separation   
37.5", 38"    -Waist measurements

Before ReCORE, 4 weeks post c-section,  stomach relaxed
AFTER ReCORE and FITsplint™ 
Closed, 2.5, Closed    - Fingerwidth Separation   
33.5", 34.5"               -Waist measurements
After ReCORE and FITsplint, 10 weeks post c-section, stomach relaxed

P.S. -I stress for women to relax the belly when taking every picture. 

In Her Words:
"After I had my twins (boys #3 & 4) I was extremely stretched out.  The babies were over 12 pounds together and to top it off I had an emergency C-section.  I was very bothered by the way my stomach was still sticking out after a month, but even more than that, my back hurt all the time.  I had been wearing an abdominal binder since delivery, but it wasn't helping.  I found Celeste through a friend who also has twins and got started on the ReCORE program at 4 weeks post partum.  At my first consultation I was so separated and weak that I couldn't feel anything when I tried to engage my abs and I could fit my whole fist between the muscles.  I wore the FITsplint all the time and fit sets of the exercises in between feedings and within a few days I could feel things starting to wake up.  I saw results almost immediately and that kept me motivated to keep it up.  Just having defined sets of exercise made it seem doable, even with the constant care needed by colicky twins.  After finishing the program, my abs are closing up very well and my back doesn't ache all the time, even when I have to hold my two little chunky babies a lot.  I'm so excited to get back to my routine and know that I have the knowledge I'll need to keep getting stronger instead of doing exercises that could make things worse.  I recommend ReCORE to all my friends who are pregnant or have lingering separation." Bethany, TN

I wish I could shout from the rooftops how important it is to address Diastasis Recti fairly soon after delivery, preferably within 6 months post. Waiting a year to see what happens or to be done breastfeeding is not recommended.  Even with small separations (fascia is vulnerable to stretching further postpartum).Women don't have to do it all in 6 weeks. Women can take it at a slower pace. Progress is progress. However getting the inner core activated, strong and stable before returning to typical exercise is just as important. It will greatly reduce the chance of moms dealing with low back pain/injuries, stress fractures, hip instability, stress incontinence etc. The fascia wants to heal. Give it the best environment with splinting and corrective/progressive exercise like ReCORE before going back to typical exercise. Your body will thank you.

See for more resources, Celeste's BIO and info on ReCORE & FITsplint

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What #mombod stands for

I've seen the #dadbod trending hashtag…wow its everywhere. I get it, men don't have to be a supermodel to be attractive. Dads have a lot more on their mind than working out for 8 hours. But lets face it, the trend has gone too far. Celebrating laziness and the beer belly, really?

Why does America have to take everything to the extreme?

Oh..wait, I do know. Its the only way to get attention.

Now everyone is asking, when is #mombod going to be a thing? It has been! Although its not celebrating laziness and obesity.

It's all a matter of what one's goals are.

So as the owner of MomBod Fitness, here is what #mombod stands for. It's not laziness. It's not about being skinny. It's not about looking perfect. It's about being real. Its about core strength, stability and function. If you've been a mom, you know the big hit the core takes. Diastasis is just one common inner core weakness postpartum. (its why I developed ReCORE)
-P.S. - Typical gym core exercises will NOT get your inner core strength back

You can have a strong core without a six pack or being skinny.

It's what matters if you want to enjoy life pain free.  Its about being strong. Its about being you, not someone else. Its about accepting stretch marks.

Celeste Goodson has worked in health and fitness settings for over 15 years as well as physical therapy and cardiac rehab. She has worked exclusively with pre and post natal moms for the last 4 years with ReCORE. She developed ReCORE after realizing women can benefit from proper screening, testing, rebuilding and guidelines before returning to typical exercise. Celeste dealt with several core weaknesses herself after her 2nd & 3rd and was incorrectly told surgery was her only option. Celeste now has functional ab separation but can do any core exercise. She is an avid runner as well. READ MORE HERE.  She has now trained 100's of women one-on-one postpartum and has helped many close their separation or get the diastasis to functioning status with more proactive reconditioning and guidelines to move past diastasis. WILL MY DIASTASIS CLOSE? Celeste has a B.S. if Fitness and Wellness, is an ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist certified to train Pre and Post Natal women as well as those with musculokeletal, neuromuscular and metabolic conditions.