Searching for information on Diastasis Recti online, you are likely to find the MuTu® System website (that’s this one!) as well as others.
There many physical therapists, physiotherapists, specialist trainers (+ surgeons!) providing useful information… the Internet is a big place! One question I am often asked is ‘What’s the difference?’
Important: This article is NOT an analysis or critique of the Tupler Technique®, an established program that many have had success with; nor does it question or assume to comment on the expertise or reputation of this (or any other) program or its creator. I have absolute respect for all professionals in this field working hard to help restore + strengthen women’s’ bodies. After all, that is what we’re all trying to do. You will also find some links to great information at the bottom of this post.
But I know you’re trying to figure out what you need, + if you Googled the question you probably ended up here! So here goes.
What’s the same?
Both MuTu® System + other programs are grounded in the well established principle that correct function of the Transverse Abdominis muscle is absolutely crucial in maintaining optimal function of the entire lumbo-pelvic region. Ie, your mid-section, from diaphragm (up inside your rib cage) through your waist, tummy, lower back + pelvic floor.
To restore stability, strength + aesthetics to a mother’s abdominal muscles (including narrowing a diastasis recti), correct engagement + function of the transverse abdominis + related structures has to be a fundamental focus.
Crunches, sit ups + yoga moves such as Boat Pose are not recommended by either program at any stage. These guidelines you will find common to any exercise routine that understands a mother’s body… if your trainer has you doing crunches, get a new one!
We’re all dealing with same muscles, + all trying to guide women to achieving optimal core function after childbirth (even a very long time after childbirth!).
What MuTu System is… + what it isn’t!
MuTu System is a holistic program, aiming to achieve correct alignment + functioning of the entire, core, in fact the entire body. NOT JUST TRANSVERSE ABDOMINIS, NOT JUST THE GAP.
MuTu System is based on the principle of dynamic movement + optimal functioning of your entire midsection, including your pelvic floor… to achieve the flat stomach, toned pelvic floor (that’s toned, not tight – there’s a difference) as well as the stability, comfort + freedom from pain you want.
Importantly, MuTu Systemwas never created to deal only with diastasis recti. Correcting diastasis recti is not the sole focus of MuTu System programs; because diastasis is not, in my view, an isolated issue or the ‘Holy Grail’ of healing women’s bodies after childbirth. Rather it is one piece of the jigsaw in regaining stability + strength, a jigsaw which encompasses a whole system of muscles + functions of the lumbo-pelvic region.
My own study + over a decade’s experience of working with pregnant + postpartum women has taught me that to suggest that simply ’closing the gap’ would result in a flat tummy after having babies, would be doing moms a disservice. Because there’s rather more to it than that.
3 important points!
- You can achieve core stability + strength, + restore function with some gap remaining**. It is the ability to restore tension + stability of the fascia (the connective tissue between the 2 halves of the rectus muscle) which is the key factor, not just the existence of a gap
- Don’t ignore other factors: poor nutrition, stress, fatigue, excessive calorie consumption, inadequate essential fats or hydration, digestive issues + lack of the correct, safe + most efficient + effective exercise… will all contribute to making your stomach stick out or overhang! If you want to *see* the results of core training + strengthening, you have to lose the fat that sits on top. As above, it’s not all about the gap
- No exercise routine can ‘treat’ or ‘fix’ every situation . In some situations of a severely compromised, stretched + weakend linea alba (the connective tissue between the 2 parts of muscle), surgery may be required for correct function + stability is to be restored*. A biomechanical + ultrasound examination will be necessary to determine this. BUT… 1. this is rare + 2. Surgery is extremely expensive, has a long + uncomfortable recovery + will do nothing for your strength, tone, weight or overall fitness. A focused postpartum core restoration program will benefit your entire lumbopelvic region greatly especially in recovery, even where surgery is deemed necessary.
MuTu System training + programmes have a holistic philosophy, which deals with posture, functional exercise (IE metabolic resistance exercise techniques that make you truly strong, lean + ‘fit for purpose’), optimal nutrition for health, hormone balance + energy, specific yoga techniques to help re-settle the pelvic organs, tone + heal the deep muscles as well as relieve stress + promote optimal respiration… AND at the foundation of it all, a complete 4-Phase program to train (find) + then strengthen the muscles of your core. Narrowing a diastasis recti is one of many beneficial effects.
Remember that you are not trying to close the gap for its own sake, or for purely aesthetic reasons (although improving the look of your stomach is clearly a motivating factor).
A diastasis is a manifestation of a lumbopelvis, or core, that has experienced excessive intra-abdominal pressure (ie pressure that pushes or causes bulging out - in the case of your stomach – or down – in the case of your pelvic floor-) + sustained abdominal loading (functioning) with incorrect technique.
It is a sign that you have excessive pressure pushing outwards from within your pelvis + abdomen – the Diastasis is a SYMPTOM, it is not the cause….To address only the symptom by binding or sucking in your stomach will NOT solve the whole problem.
Other manifestations of excessive intra-abdominal pressure or weakened core function may be hernia, prolapse, incontinence or back pain. You may suffer from one or more of these related conditions.
All these problems emanate from the same issue: a core that isn’t working properly. You can exercise until you drop, but unless your midsection is working correctly – none of the above abdominal + pelvic issues will improve (+ they may get worse).
There is a difference between training (finding + correctly engaging) the core, + strengthening it. You can’t do the latter without the former. As respected Physiotherapist Diane Lee* says: ‘You can’t strengthen a muscle your brain isn’t talking to’. For many of us, the after-effects of childbirth mean that our brain is not talking to the right muscles. We have to re-learn how to use them.
MuTu System offers 2 programs: MuTu Focus is ‘just the tummy bit’, whilst the MuTu System 12 Week Program includes fitness + fat loss along with core restoration.
Both programs teach, guide + demonstrate how to re-train your core to do its job. At first, this is a focussed, daily series of exercises + alignment adjustments which take around 10 minutes to complete. You move at your pace through 4 phases of exercises + techniques, re-assessing at each stage when you are ready to move onto the next. You also learn some very specific yoga breathing techniques which make these exercises more effective + enable you to connect fully to the muscles again.
In our 12 Week Program, which includes fitness + fat loss as well as core restoration, alongside this daily routine you gradually build up a workout routine that shapes + tones your entire body whilst – + this is the vital part! – using your core correctly in every MuTu Intensive workout. You are not only learning how to exercise incredibly effectively in only 15 minutes a few times a week, you are doing it whilst working your core safely + correctly with every move.
Essentially you are learning how to *make every exercise an abdominal exercise!*
When you reach Phase 4, or full core strength + stability, only then would you safely incorporate moves such as a plank, + you no longer need to continue with the separate daily core training exercises. On reaching full core strength + stability, you are now using your core correctly every time you move + workout.
Your body is now working – so you can continue with your MuTu Intensive workouts, keep going with the stretches you love, your new-found improved alignment + function, your MuTu Breathe yoga techniques, +/or indeed any other chosen sport or activity… knowing you’re working your abs with every move!
The key defining points of Mutu System:
- MuTu System deals with your whole body: whole body alignment posture + function, improving pelvic floor control, + training your core. In the 12 Week Program it also covers flattening your stomach by eating right + how to shop + cook family friendly food that keeps you all lean + healthy, dealing with stress… its a System built for moms which covers everything – in 10 minutes a day of Core training, alongside 15 minute intensive workouts 4-5 times a week. Note, high intensity does not have to mean high impact – there are no- + low- impact versions of all workouts clearly demonstrated for all levels!
- You do not have to do hundreds of repetitions of any exercise. MuTu focuses on physiological + emotional re-connection, the quality of the muscle action, not the quantity
- MuTu System does not suggest you constantly splint or bind your stomach. In cases of a very severe gap or compromised sensitivity immediately following abdominal surgery, some form of temporary binding may be advised by your medical caregiver + may be helpful for comfort + to help you focus. But the splint doesn’t do the work, your muscles have to. Splinting or binding is not an element of MuTu System programs.
- There are 4 Phases of exercises which you progress through as your train your core to work correctly. At Phases 3 + 4, the exercises move to strengthening your abdominal muscles – but first, you have to find them + train them.
I hope that helps to understand where the MuTu System is all about + to decide whether it is for you! I am not implying failings or critique of any other program, simply stating that the above elements are the cornerstones of this one!
NO program is going to work if you don’t do it! Consistently + frequently. Restoring a compromised core takes time + commitment. I know its kinda stating the obvious… but if you don’t DO it, you won’t get the results!
I wrote this post because you ask me these questions, + I know you are searching for answers… not because I want to enter into a debate about who’s ‘more right’! It all works. But everyone has their own approach + the fact that you have information + options at your fingertips is the true beauty of the Internet! I am proud of my program + have great respect for other professionals who are helping women to be stronger + fitter.
I welcome your respectful comments + questions. I am often asked about this subject, so wanted to open up my answers on the blog as well. I hope it helped
Further reading on this blog about Diastasis Recti
Find out more about The MuTu System programs
RESOURCES + REFERENCES
*For further excellent information on Diastasis + Postpartum Core Health: See Diane Lee + Associates articles here
** From the 2012 3rd International Fascia Research Congress: Diane Lee: Split down the middle? Clinical Findings Suggest Closure of a Diastasis Rectus Abdominis is Not Always Necessary for Restoring Function (if link doesn’t take you direct to the abstract, scroll down to No.8 ‘New Hypotheses’, 3rd paper)
For excellent information on alignment + diastasis, see Katy Bowman’s work at Aligned + Well