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Getting to (Really) Know Your Core

In her new book, Diastasis Recti: The Whole Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation (available February 1), noted biomechanist Katy Bowman makes it clear by page 4 that hers is less a resource about “body parts” and more a study on forces. After all, according to the author physical forces—the byproducts of how you move and position yourself daily—are what cause unnatural abdominal separation in the first place. And if you don’t know what movements are at the root of a problem, how can you formulate a fix?

It’s an interesting, whole-body approach to the reversal of a condition that is often preoccupied with form—flattening the dreaded “mummy tummy” at all costs—versus function: A default that Bowman challenges with more than 30 large and small corrective exercises meant to strengthen the entire body and to improve daily functional movement for moms and moms-to-be alike.

A pelvic-health pioneer and mother of two, Bowman threw herself into helping women take charge of their strength and rehabilitation after a rough birth experience (which included five days in bed) left her weak and out of sync. “We are not passive recipients of diseases and conditions,” writes OBGYN and women’s health expert Christiane Northrup in the book’s foreword. “We are active participants in our health and vitality.” Bowman takes this to heart and her frank, but approachable, tone gets the message across.

Anatomy buffs will love the attention paid to abdominal architecture and to learning how the core should function ideally. Bowman gives motivating tips on how to sit and stand better and how to recognize proper alignment. “Little,” “medium” and “big” moves are introduced to help strengthen and re-connect the body while correcting diastasis recti via a full-body concentration. (Bowman gets creative, demonstrating, for instance, hanging and swinging exercises that get underused arms involved.)

The program is refreshing. We finished the book knowing more about our core than ever before—and realizing yet again how a body really is only as strong as the sum of its parts.

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