The singer had to "retrain" her abs after experiencing diastasis recti, she revealed in a new interview.
Ciara is getting candid about accepting her body's changes after having three children. The singer opened up about experiencing diastasis recti after giving birth, sharing how the condition has shaped her overall approach to caring for her body, in a new interview for Women's Health.
Staying active has seemingly always come naturally to the 37-year-old, who was a cheerleader and ran track during her school years. But after welcoming her three kids, it seems she's taking a gentler approach to fitness.
"I've accepted that my body will never be what it used to be," she told the magazine. "I have diastasis recti, which is when your ab muscles split after birth," explained the "Goodies" singer. "When I learned this, it was game-changing because you can train wrong for your abs. I had to educate myself on that and learn to retrain my abs."
ICYDK, diastasis recti is a common condition, affecting as many as one- to two-thirds of those who give birth, according to a 2016 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The condition occurs when someone's left and right abdominal muscles separate from one another, reports the Cleveland Clinic. It typically happens in mid- to late-pregnancy or during the postpartum period.
When the abdominal muscles expand due to pregnancy and/or birth, they sometimes come apart. "The abdominal contents can 'poof out' between the muscles, much like a hernia," Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University previously told Shape. While it sounds super painful, it's usually not, said Dr. Minkin.
Healing involves specialized exercises to help engage and strengthen the deep abdominal muscles. But common core moves, such as crunches and sit-ups, might actually make things worse, notes the Cleveland Clinic. As Ciara pointed out in her recent cover story for Women's Health, proper form and support is crucial.
As for her workouts of choice these days, the hitmaker definitely mixes things up. For instance, she enjoys boxing for both her physical and mental health. "I like boxing when I’m trying to figure things out," she told Women's Health. "That’s a part of [my] ‘therapy’ — exercise.”
Other exercises in her current routine include "a combination of plyometric workouts mixed with weights and cardio as well, because I dance," she said. For the uninitiated plyometric training involves explosive moments to spike your heart rate and hit muscles big and small with exercises such as jump squats, jump lunges, skaters, and plank jacks. Ciara has been doing this type of training for years, noting that celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson created dynamic 60-minute plyometric sessions that included her love of boxing, in a previous interview with Shape.
"What's amazing is that you're getting three-in-one training: It's hitting your muscles; it's a cardiovascular workout; and it's a mental exercise," she shared at the time. "You have to be super focused when you're boxing. After I've done a few rounds, I feel as if I can conquer the world."
Ciara is also a longtime Peloton devotee. "I love Ally Love," she said in the recent interview. "She's my favorite." (Read more: Peloton's Ally Love Isn't Here for One-Note Wellness Routines)
Ciara has been open both about her diastasis recti and her fierce sweat sessions before. Back in 2018 — before she welcomed her youngest son, Win — she took to Instagram to share a selfie with an empowering caption. "I have diastasis recti from both of my pregnancies, so I have to work extra hard to regain my core strength," she wrote. "Determined. Let's Go Mammas!"
In 2019, she told People that she was prepared for the condition to come back with future pregnancies. "I anticipate that when I have kids again I know that my body could very well go back to ground zero with the diastasis and I'm okay with that, because the result is way greater," she said. "I know that I can work hard and get back again. Mentally it's a lot of work, but when I look at my kids they bring me the greatest joy, so it's all worth it," she shared.
As for now, it seems Ciara is enjoying her current workout routine and accepting the changes to her body that have come with motherhood.