Both my husband and my dad are hunters. Though I have never shared in the excitement of the hunt itself, I absolutely share in the anticipation of eating wild meat. Dragging the deer out of the woods and taking it to a butcher for processing is not only normal to me, it’s exciting. What’s not fun is processing the meat myself.
A few years ago my husband got a deer back behind our house. We cheated and asked our neighbor to bring it to our house with his tractor so we wouldn’t have to drag it the whole way. However, we did not cheat by taking this deer to the butcher. Nope. We set up shop in our house and did it ourselves.
Let me tell you something – I will never choose to do this again. It didn’t gross me out, but it is tedious. And there’s nothing like doing the job yourself to make you super picky about the end product. To me, it’s like opening a closet and seeing a few items of clothing that need to be re-folded and straightened. Once that section looks so nice, the untidiness of the rest of the closet becomes painfully obvious, so you end up fixing that too. Translate that to processing meat and you can see how easy it is to get picky about how “clean” your meat looks when you’re done. Soon, that layer of silver skin becomes your worst nightmare.
If you’ve ever trimmed meat yourself you know what I’m talking about when I say silver skin. It does not breakdown when cooked and you don’t want to eat it, unless you like tough and chewy meat, so trim it you must. Ugh! What is this silver skin, you may ask? It is a thin membrane of connective tissue found on many meats. You’ve probably seen it on beef, pork, and chicken. It’s everywhere. Everywhere.
This silver skin is what I picture when I think of the linea alba, the connective tissue, or fascia, that runs down the middle of your abdomen, connecting the two sides of your rectus abdominus muscle (though it’s not exactly the same). This is the connective tissue that all of us ladies (and men) with diastasis recti are intimately familiar with because, for lack of a better word, ours is broken. We have a gap that runs down the middle of our tummies that causes all sorts of issues, like bulging, doming, and general weakness.
I set the goal to heal my tummy back in the spring, and this has redefined the way I view exercise and strength. I’ve learned that our bodies are really good at doing things they’re not actually strong enough to do, and the exercises that are best for building a foundation of strength are usually the ones that are least suspected. For example, a strong core starts with good posture and breathing, not crunches.
Fast forward to today, and I sit here with a bum knee, unable to do some of the simplest exercises because 1. I can’t bend my knee, and 2. It hurts when I try. This sort of setback used to really bother me. I don’t like being unable to move around freely. But since signing up with Core Exercise Solutions, I’ve learned that setbacks don’t necessarily mean steps back. So while I’m unable to do a lot of core strengthening exercises, I am able do breathing exercises and skin rolling.
And that’s where we take it back to that fascia. You’ve probably heard of SMFR, or self myfascial release. Basically, it’s foam rolling. This technique allows you to apply pressure to soft tissues, which can decrease pain, increase flexibility and range of motion, and improve your performance. It’s like a self massage and it can feel absolutely amazing if you have sore or tight muscles.
Skin rolling is kind of like foam rolling but you use your fingers. Pinch the skin on the back of your hand. Now use your fingers to roll that skin from one side of your hand to the other. Congratulations! You just did skin rolling.
If you have a diastasis and your center is all squishy, you may wonder what skin rolling your abdomen will do to help. Well, it doesn’t heal the linea alba and magically reconnect your core. Not directly, any way. Skin rolling your abdomen is all about rib mobility! When you breathe, your ribs should expand in every direction – back, front, and sides. Belly breathing puts a lot of strain against a diastasis, which can prevent it from healing, so you really want to nail that 360 expansion of the rib cage when you breathe. Since many of us don’t breathe deeply and our rib cages stay fixed, a little mental practice to retrain your body and a little skin rolling – to get that rib cage loose! – can make a big difference. If you want a full muscle contraction in your core, you’ve got to get that rib expansion.
When skin rolling my abdomen, I go across the internal and external obliques and down the rectus abdominus. This means I start in the center, right under my sternum, and work diagonally down both sides toward my hips. Then I start at the edge of each rib cage and work down toward the bottom center of my abdomen, toward the pelvis. Then I skin roll right on down that diastasis to get everything loosened up.
No knees required!
Unless you start thinking I’m off my rocker, let me assure you that I did not make this up. I learned this directly from Dr. Sarah Duvall and if it wasn’t for her program, I would not have even begun to heal, much less have so much success thus far.
We’ll talk soon! Until then, go bend your knees for me. 😉