How can acupuncture help with diastasis recti (DRA)?
Diastasis recti, or abdominal separation, is when the space between the right and left abdominal muscles causing your belly to stick out. When these muscles shift, a thin layer of connective tissue is the only thing holding your organs in place. Some early warning symptoms include constipation, low back pain, gas, indigestion, and urinary incontinence. A common complaint is extreme bloating after every meal. This condition occurs in women and men.
We all know a strong, abdominal core is essential to the simplest of life’s daily activities like lifting heavy objects and some forms of exercise. So be mindful when engaging in any activity that uses your tummy muscles. Avoid straining when having a bowel movement, even standing up mindfully from a sitting position.
If you choose a complimentary form of treatment, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) may help. Like the western explanation for the condition, TCM sees the problem as a muscle problem. TCM explains that our body’s muscles are controlled by our spleen. “What does my spleen have to do with my muscles,” you ask? For thousands of years, TCM has understood that our five major organs are responsible for the quality of our health. One of the jobs the spleen is in charge of development and health of our muscles and tissues. The spleen is one of our body’s major organs that is essential to a healthy digestive system.
Location, location, location! Your stomach muscles have four meridians or channels that run through your abdomen. Two of these are the stomach and spleen. The stomach and the spleen are partner organs and partner meridians in the TCM framework, meaning that each organ and meridian has a special relationship with the other and that they support the health of each other. These channels carry our body’s circulation – blood and Qi, which is the Chinese concept of our body’s vital energy. When the stomach and spleen meridians are chronically not functioning well, it leads to physical symptoms, namely poor digestive health. Acupuncture can unblock areas of stagnation and restore the healthy flow of blood and energy through the meridians. Increasing the proper function of these meridians can help heal and strengthen your abdominal muscles. While an acupuncturist may put needles in your tummy, the most powerful points on these channels are further away from the problem. So don’t be surprised if your acupuncturist puts needles in your feet or lower legs – they’re the heavy hitters! The energy is directed along these meridians to bring blood and Qi to your tummy to help restore and strengthen your muscles and tissues.
In addition to the concept of restoring the functions of the meridians, TCM understands that the body’s energy system is governed by Qi. Simply said, Qi is the lifeforce that runs through our body communicating with all of our body’s functions so they perform optimally. One of the jobs Qi is charged with is to keep everything in its place and stabilized. It’s your Qi, and in particular your spleen and stomach Qi, that supports and upholds your stomach muscles to keep them in place. In general, any obstruction in the channels can cause other health problems because every channel has a relationship to other channels. So, not only is acupuncture helping to put your stomach muscles back in place, it’s also helping with the other symptoms – digestive problems, poor bowel habits, even hernias.
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