How I Invented the Diastasis Rehab Splint®
People ask me all the time. How did you discover diastasis recti and the Diastasis Rehab Splint® So here is my story!
I started working with pregnant women by accident in 1989. I was a certified fitness instructor at a New York Health Club and the owners said, “You’re a Nurse and a Fitness instructor….. create a prenatal exercise class!” I was thrilled at the opportunity, but at the same time did not have a clue how to do this. So I researched all the medical and consumer literature on prenatal exercise. Elizabeth Noble, a physical therapist and author of Essential Exercises For the Childbearing Year was the only one teaching this special population. Studying with her gave me a great foundation for developing the Tupler Technique®. So in 1990, I created Maternal Fitness®…. an exercise program designed to prepare women for the marathon of labor. As a certified childbirth educator I realized that childbirth education comes at the end of the pregnancy and only prepares the mind. Nobody was preparing a woman’s “body” for the hard work involved in pushing a baby out. I realized that a diastasis can potentially lead to a c-section. All the problems such as incontinence and prolapse of organs, that women have after birth could be avoided if they strengthened their abdominal muscles and learned how to push correctly with the Tupler Technique®.
I was perplexed why the medical literature did NOT talk about how to treat a diastasis. Elizabeth Noble was the only one! She talked about splinting the separated muscles with your hands. I felt this was too difficult for clients to do and started using a scarf to pull the muscles together while doing both the seated and backlying exercises. So in 1996, I wrote my first book called Maternal Fitness®. The Tupler Technique® was introduced for the first time. One of the 4 steps of the Tupler Technique® was splinting the separated muscles with a scarf. Many people thought that splinting the muscles along with abdominal strengthening exercises could be harmful to a pregnant mom’s baby! So I swam upstream doing this until Fit Pregnancy wrote a big article on my book and then continued to show splinting with a scarf for a diastasis im subsequent articles. Splinting with a scarf then became main stream! At the time, abdominal binders were “only” used for compression of the muscles and also to lift and support the growing belly during pregnancy.
A physical therapist who worked for me could not believe that by doing the Tupler Technique® program the diastasis was getting smaller over the six week workshop as the bellies were getting bigger. She encouraged me to get research. That is when I got the research from Columbia University Program in Physical Therapy. This is the only research out there on diastasis and exercise. This study proved that the pregnant women who did the Tupler Technique® during their pregnancy had a smaller diastasis than the control group of pregnant women who did not do any abdominal exercise. I thought if the Tupler Technique® can make a diastasis smaller during pregnancy with a growing belly, then just think what I could do without a growing belly! I thought if just holding a splint was helpful then wearing a splint would be much more helpful….and it was!! In 2004, I came out with my second book called Lose Your Mummy Tummy. In this book I came out with my very first splint. It was a piece of fabric with safety pins! One of my clients asked if I could use Velcro because she was getting stopped at security when she traveled! Also it was too difficult to fasten it in the back. That’s when the Diastasis Rehab Splint started to be a “work in progress.” For the past 8 years I have been listening to my clients, the clients of my licensees and my licensees and have made significant changes in the design and materials over the years. The Diastasis Rehab Splint® has come a long way since the days of the safety pins!