STEP 3—MAKE YOUR TRANSVERSE YOUR BEST FRIEND
What does it mean exactly to make your transverse muscle your best friend? No, you don’t need to even meet for coffee or take over watering its plants. Think of your transverse always and it will take care of you and make you feel better. All jokes aside, Step 3 really is all about transverse consciousness. You want to establish a full-time awareness of your transverse muscle and what it is doing. For some people, this comes quite naturally, but others typically ignore this whole region of their bodies.
Many people who have belly issues consider their abdomens to be a source of shame on some level, so their awareness of their transverse muscle is often loaded with negativity. Alternately, some people do whatever they can to rid any awareness of their bellies from their consciousness, because it just makes them feel bad. Your goal is to do the opposite: to establish a positive awareness of your transverse and embrace the fact that the more you engage it, the better you will feel physically and psychologically.
I have one client whose childhood associations with the transverse stayed with her throughout her adult life until she learned the Tupler Technique®. As a young teenager who grew up on the coast, in the summer she’d sit on the beach with schoolmates, some of whom you’d have to call “mean girls.” My client always remembered this group making fun of other girls who they suspected of “sucking it in” to make themselves look thinner in their bathing suits. So her lifelong
association with pulling in the transverse muscle was that doing so essentially makes you a faker and a target for ridicule.
I don’t know if other people have similar ingrained beliefs that pulling in your transverse is somehow wrong, but our goal is to create a fully positive association between you and this muscle. Think of it this way: your transverse muscle is your biological birthright, Mother Nature’s corset for you, which will help keep you healthy, strong and feeling good about yourself if you only claim it. From a biological standpoint, you are supposed to pull it in. Don’t abandon your best friend. Be aware of where it is and keep it close to you. Pat yourself on the back a little when you find yourself in moments of awareness. You will be doing your body a favor by becoming transverse-conscious.
You already have learned when it is especially essential to hold in your transverse. Get used to reminding yourself to hold in it whenever you are about to cough, sneeze, pick up something heavy, or do anything to exert force on your connective tissue. Eventually it becomes routine.
Speaking of routine, one of the least glamorous parts of my job is re-teaching clients how to go about one of their most primal bodily functions—namely moving your bowels. The difference between doing this right and doing this wrong makes a huge difference in the state of a diastasis. Many a diastasis has been worsened by constipation and unnecessary intra-abdominal force. I know, I know, it’s a crappy topic, but in the name of healing your connective tissue, I’m willing to have you think of me every time you’re on the can.
You’re probably thinking, Good Lord, there’s a correct way to poop? Don’t worry, it’s easy. First, elevate your feet about seven inches on a low stepstool or something similar, so your body is essentially in a squatting position. You can even turn your waste can on its side, or use two phone books. (Stepstools that are specifically designed to fit around the base of your toilet for this purpose are available—look around on the internet, if you’re interested.) Now pull in your transverse to the 5th floor. While it may sound paradoxical, engaging your transverse will actually allow you to isolate and use your rectal muscles more efficiently, while protecting your connective tissue.
If you’re wondering why you need to elevate your feet, squatting actually puts the bowel in a much better position to release. It is common practice in other cultures such as Asia, India and Africa to squat when going to the bathroom. The flushing toilet was improved upon and finessed by plumbing engineer Thomas Crapper in Victorian England. (No kidding! Some people believe he invented it, but he doesn’t get that credit, though he did get many patents for his toilet contributions.) Though he became the Royal Sanitary Engineer, he was not a man of medicine or of human plumbing. Crapper didn’t recognize the mechanical advantages that squatting gives the body, so before society knew it, the toilet pretty much as we know it today became the norm.
Unfortunately, having a bowel movement on a standard toilet makes the elimination process much more difficult. So make sure that you do always raise your feet. You’re going to like it, I promise. Just heeding this advice alone throughout your life is going to help.