Pregnancy Training: Coning & Doming
Written by Kirsten Ahrendt

Recently we had a member who is 32 weeks prego, have coning occurring during our pull-up negatives (Which she was incredibly still able to do! Bosslady!) We discussed what it was – she’s seen it occur before when she’s in the bath or trying to sit up from bed and didn’t know what it was. We moved her to tempo ring rows instead and here’s why…

What is “coning”?

Diastasis recti is a separation of the rectus abdominis – this is an outcome that most people associate with women POSTpartum. But it begins, naturally so, DURING pregnancy. Nearly all pregnant women will get this to some degree while pregnant because they’re bodies need to make space for bebe. 

The thin connective tissue holding rectus abdominis together is the linea alba – which also stretches during pregnancy. Each woman is unique (duh!) but during her pregnancy certain movements and how far along she is, can often cause increased pressure in her abdomen and cause a bulging/coning/doming at the linea alba. It literally looks like a woman’s round belly has made the shape of a tent/cone.

Why does coning occur? 

Bulging/Coning occurs when there is a mismanagement of intra-abdominal pressure and the muscles of the abdomen/pelvic floor/obliques are not working optimally and cohesively. It will place too much stress on the linea alba, and if continually performed, can contribute to bigger issues down the road in the pelvic floor and diastasis recti in her recovery. I’ve also read some stuff that says it’s not great for pressure on the bebe, but I’m not as confident with that statement.

What movements can cause coning?

Common movements you see coning with are:

– pull-ups (or whenever she hangs from bar)

– planks/down-facing movements

– sit-ups

– picking up objects – kids/weights that are far away from her

– pressing overhead

When we see this in one of the many pregnant women we have training at the gym we either 1) help them find another movement alternative; or, 2) guide them through how to create better activation in the core. For example, she might be holding her breath, so we encourage her to exhale before the movement, and connect with her pelvic floor before bracing.

Coning in Men

FYI – watch out for “coning/doming” in DUDES TOO!!! I’m not joking, I see this in a lot of males at our gym when they do…(wait for it)…DEAD BUGS!!! It is a sure sign they are not aligned nor connecting with their pelvic floor/diaphragm. And is an indicator that they could be setting themselves up for a hernia with poor bracing patterns. 

As a coach, it can be intimidating to just “watch” a pregnant lady’s belly while she is doing movement, so maybe ask her – “Hey, have you noticed this happening? Can I watch you do a few reps and pay attention to it to ensure it’s not happening to you?”  You know, so you’re not being creepy but instead are being concerned and helpful…I hope this helps you, happy to talk more if you want to drop a line in the comments. 

 

Resources:

Diastasis Recti & Coning: What You Need to Know; The Movement Ministry
Diastasis Recti During Pregnancy; Pregnancy and Postpartum PT

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