Posted by: Cat | 2009-03-26

Torn Ab Muscle

Hi Doc
I was told by my doctor that i have torn the tendon that attaches my Rectus Abdominis to my pelvic bone. She recommended that i rest for 3 months to allow it to heal, but can do exercises that dont use that muscle (which is very few exercises!). She recommends only arm exercise and some walking. Can you suggest any other exercises i can do to keep my fitness up over the next few months? I am conerned that i will become very unfit and also may put on weight
I think it is a minor tear as it is not constantly painful, and when it is strained the pain is not too severe. I just dont want to cause more damage

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Our expert says:
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Hi Cat

Shame, sounds like a nasty injury. As you said, it's difficult to find exercises that do not use that muscle, so it can be very nagging. I don't, however, believe that 3 months of rest is necessarily the answer. Certainly, rest until the pain has gone and you can do some basic training, but once you reach that point, it's actually very important that you actually do exercises that use it, so that you aid the recovery. Obviously, the fine line exists where you will start to overdo it and prevent recovery, and that's very tricky to walk that line.

So my advice is to rest for at least 2 weeks, as frustrating as that might be. Let the body start the healing process. You might still manage to do some walking and arm exercises, and that's fine. However, after that, look into things like cycling on low resistance (or in an easy gear), swimming and maybe even very slow jogging. The key is discipline - discipline to restrain yourself from pushing harder and injuring it. That means you can't go cycle on a hilly route which will cause some severe contractions, but rather stick to easy. You have to find that point for yourself, and it is difficult (and there's no obvious way to test it, short of training with an expert bio or physio). But just be patient.

Good luck

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