The Tummy Team often recommends abdominal splinting and uses abdominal splinting as a portion of their core rehabilitation or core training programs. Splinting alone will not heal a diastasis or rebuild your core but is a useful tool in the core rehabilitation process. There are many products available for this purpose but why and how you use a abdominal splint is more important than the type of splint you choose. There are so many questions about splinting that we wanted to offer some information about abdominal splinting here. You can also watch our video about why we splint below. The Tummy Team as a selection of splints that we consistently use in our practice and with our online programs. Click here to see how to purchase a splint.
Why We Splint.
Why Abdominal Splinting?
There are several different reasons for abdominal splinting (or what some cultures call belly binding). Below are the most common reasons when and why The Tummy Team recommends splinting.
Postpartum Abdominal Splinting/Belly Binding- most cultures in the world (outside of the US) bind the belly after delivery. There are multiple benefits to this. The main reasons The Tummy Team promotes belly binding right after delivery is to help reconnect and protect the stretched out abdominal muscles during the first few weeks after delivery. Postpartum women tend to feel like jelly in the middle and are much more focused on caring for their new born then protecting their deflated weak tummy. Proper positioning of an abdominal splint for belly binding; helps approximate the 2 sides of the outer most abdominals which promotes healing of the connective tissue with diastasis recti, and provides your temporary transverse abdominis (corset) to help realign and support your back and organs and help increase blood supply to improve healing to the area.
Abdominal Splinting to assist in the rehabilitation process for diastasis recti- The Tummy Team has a comprehensive program that includes postural retraining, strengthening and alignment to heal the separation of the abdominals. Splinting the abdominals is often recommended in this program to approximate the 2 sides of the abdominals, improve alignment and increase awareness of posture and body mechanics. Splinting alone does not heal a diastasis but can help prevent it from worsening. Splinting is recommended in conjunction to the rehabilitation process not in lieu of it.
Abdominal Splinting during pregnancy- Often women begin their pregnancy with a weak core and ultimately develop a diastasis during the course of their pregnancy. This core weakness can contribute to poor posture and excessive pressure on the low back, pelvic floor and hips. Often women are encouraged to use maternity support belts for these symptoms, The Tummy Team recommends the use of and abdominal splint instead. Maternity support belts actually encourage mom to relax and rest her belly on the support that comes up under the belly but abdominal splint actually facilitates and reinforces the transverse abdominis (corset muscle) to pull the baby up and in toward the body and places the body and baby in a better alignment for a pain free pregnancy and a smoother delivery. Prenatal abdominal splinting is best used in conjunction with The Tummy Team Prenatal Core Training and is not recommended for all pregnant women but can be very helpful for expecting moms who are experiencing low back pain, prolapse, hip pain, pelvic floor pressure, significant diastasis, and mid back pain.
How to Measure Yourself for the Correct Abdominal Splint
We highly recommend reading the information about the types of abdominal splints we offer at The Tummy Team. When measuring your tummy you want to use a tape measure or a piece of string that you can then measure on a ruler. Measure straight around your tummy at your navel. Do not “suck in” and do not push out. Measure your tummy in the position that you typically live in. Then measure from your the top of your hip bone to the bottom of your rib cage. The 3 panel and straight splints are 9 inches in height and the 4 panel is 12 inches in height. If your belly measurement is close to the lower size (within an inch) then you might want the smaller size, but do not make the mistake of getting too small of a splint. Wearing the splint too tight is the number one mistake clients make in splinting.
If you are pregnant, you need to consider if you are using your splint for pregnancy or postpartum. Rarely will the same splint work for both. If your belly measurement is close to the bigger size and you still have several weeks left in your pregnancy purchase the larger size. If you are trying to determine the postpartum size, estimate about 4 inches smaller. The most important time to splint is immediately postpartum so you do not want to ambitiously order too small of a splint and then not fit comfortably in it initially after delivery. Most clients have a prenatal and postpartum splint. The 3 panel listed as prenatal is the same as the postpartum splint, we just wanted to show the picture of the prenatal splinting so clients can see how it looks wearing the splint during pregnancy.
The Correct Use of an Abdominal Splint
Place the splint between the ribs and pelvis (there may be some overlap onto the ribs or pelvis but you want to be sure that the main portion of your abdomen is covered by the splint). Stand with your feet hips width apart. Untuck your pelvis and keep your ribs over your pelvis. Exhale and draw your navel to your spine. Now pull the 2 sides across your middle and fasten the Velcro. It should be snug but NOT tight. The most common issue is placing the splint too tight. This will decrease circulation to the area (like a tourniquet) and impair healing and will place too much stress on the Velcro causing the splint to fail quickly.
We recommend wearing the splint all day and in some cases at night during the initial portion of the rehab process or the first several weeks postpartum. You should consistently focus on drawing your navel in away from the splint NOT resting into the splint. The splint is always meant to be temporary to help place the muscles in the proper alignment for rehabilitation. The transverse work in exercises and posture and alignment and functional activities is how the muscles heal and rebuild.
(Our 3 panel, 4 panel and straight splints last about 12 weeks (sometimes longer) and are not intended for long term use. Our Pregnancy Splints are made of softer material along the velcro so they only last 6-8 weeks. Splinting is only a portion of the core rehabilitation process. How you wear your splint and how you hold your self while splinting is key to extending the life of your splint. Please be sure to watch all of our instructional videos on splinting when using our splints.)