Belly Binders…To Bind or Not to Bind (UPDATED)
Do you really need to wear a belly binder? Does it help heal Diastasis? When and how do you wear it? If you are caught in indecision and need to have more information for you to decide, then you’ve come to the right page.
This is an update of an article I wrote and published back in 2012. I wanted to republish this article because this is not only still relevant today, seven years after but even more necessary because of persisting misconceptions still circulating even in the medical community.
You may probably be unsure why you would need to put on a belly binder. Having had surgery or childbirth or both in the case of a C-section are the usual explanations for using a belly binder. This is what people commonly know. It is also important to know you need to wait till the C-section scar has healed before wearing the splint. As by approximating the muscles and connective tissue, it will be pulling on the scar and the stitches may come undone. The scar usually heals in about 5 to 6 weeks. Compression however, is not a problem for the C-section scar. Maybe it seems like putting extra pressure on your belly might even hurt. On the contrary, compression is a common technique used to speed healing, often after surgery or after an injury like a sprained ankle. Compression offers support to the area that is healing. Compression also increases blood flow and reduces swelling, both of which are key components of the healing process.
For the unfamiliar, the concept of “belly binding” might conjure a somewhat uncomfortable image in our heads but it’s quite the opposite. However, it does have its setbacks, which I’ll further elaborate later on.
WHAT DOES BELLY BINDING DO?
First, you need to know its function. The function of most “belly binders” is to simply make the belly smaller with compression. That is, slowly bringing the belly back to the spine. Originally, this is the role of your innermost abdominal muscle - the transverse abdominal muscle, however, most people have never strengthened this muscle so it is difficult for the transverse muscle to perform this action of compression!
WHAT DOESN’T IT DO?
Already convinced? Belly binders do sound like a good enough deal, don’t they?
Before you start considering purchasing one for yourself, it is important to note that wearing a belly binder and wanting it to perform the function that your transverse muscle is supposed to do may actually be not good. This might result in making your abdominal muscles continue to remain in a weakened state since your underdeveloped muscles will then simply depend on the belly binder.
The diastasis recti (separation of the outermost abdominal muscles) is the cause of that belly that just won’t go away no matter what you do! That is because it is now the weak connective tissue supporting your organs instead of the muscles if they were together! So you can rest easy now knowing that it’s not your diet plan or the continuous efforts you put into reducing your excess belly fat that’s at fault for failing to achieve your desired results.
If you want to really be sure if you have diastasis click here to watch a video on how to check for Diastasis recti the correct way.
HOW TO CORRECTLY USE BELLY BINDERS
The goal of the research-based 4-step Tupler Technique® program is to close the diastasis by healing the connective tissue. One of the 4 steps is wearing the Diastasis Rehab Splint®. The purpose of this splint is to approximate (bring closer together) the separated muscles. By doing this, it puts the connective tissue in a better “position” to heal (takes the stretch off it) and puts the separated muscles in a better “position” (closer together) to do the exercises more effectively. So the purpose of this splint is NOT compression it is approximation! A totally different function!
Just to remind you again, it is important to know you need to WAIT till the C-section scar has healed before wearing the splint. Because by approximating the muscles and connective tissue it will be pulling on the scar and the stitches may come undone. The scar usually heals in 5 to 6 weeks. Compression, however, is not a problem for the C-section scar but With a vaginal birth you can wear the splint right away
Click on the image to see before and after pictures.
While you wear this splint you are required to do the Tupler Technique® exercises to strengthen the transverse abdominal muscle. Doing the exercises will bring blood flow to the connective tissue which will help it heal. The exercises will also strengthen the transverse muscle so it will be strong enough to do its job of compression. Having the transverse muscle be able to be strong enough to perform its job is crucial because to heal the weak connective tissue you have to prevent intra-abdominal force on it. You prevent intra-abdominal force by having the transverse be strong enough to be able to go back towards the spine (compression) when doing activities of daily living as well as during your exercise workout. If the transverse does not go back when you are doing these activities it is still working….. Only now it is working in the wrong direction! It is going forward forcefully on the weak connective tissue and weakening it. So just wearing the Diastasis Rehab Splint® is NOT enough to close your diastasis. You must do all 4 steps of the program. Click here to know more about what program is right for you.