Adhesions and Daily Life #2 – Binders

Transcript of Video:

Today we are going to continue in our series of talking about abdominal adhesions and daily life and the different ways that daily life can affect our adhesions, both good, bad, and neutral; and the ways that abdominal adhesions affect our daily lives – which I think you’re all pretty familiar with if this is what you’re dealing with.

So, for today we are talking about clothing and abdominal binders, or clothing as abdominal binders – a little bit of each.  And, this is actually something that I haven’t really talked much about here on the website or in the programs.  But, it has come up for me in my practice and in my work with one-on-one people in this past year.  And it has come up often enough that I wanted to share it with you today.

Now, what do I mean by a ‘binder’?  Different people use binders in different ways.  One of the first ways that this came up in my practice was around diastasis – the separation that happens during pregnancy with the midline tendon that has the abdominal wall muscles attached to it in the center.  With the belly muscle distention during pregnancy, sometimes there’s a separation there in the midline that then needs to be healed back together after birth.

So that’s how abdominal binders first came into my awareness many years ago.  And then, this year I’ve seen some clients using abdominal binders for adhesions.  So I wanted to bring this into all of our awareness.

What I’ve seen is that often when people first start experiencing their abdominal distress, we all try multiple different things in order to address that distress.  One of the things that seems to work for people, at least initially, is to bind the belly in some way to help hold it in.  Especially if there’s gut issues going on, or there was a surgery for possibly bowel resection or some sort of repair, or maybe a bowel obstruction surgery of some sort.

Sometimes, after those surgeries it feels like there’s a dragging sensation on the belly and so sometimes what people do is use, for example, a belt on their pants.  They’ll cinch their belt tight to get that sense of ‘holding,’ of compression.  And then sometimes people will use actual things they tie around her waist, in addition to the clothing that they’re already wearing.

For example, they’ll have a tie-around skirt they’ll just really bind on the belly in order to create that compression and the feeling of the muscles and contents of the belly being contained.  So, that can be helpful for people initially to give that sense of containment and structure when the muscles of the belly are not, for whatever reason, able to provide structure during that time.

A more traditional binder is the binders that you usually see for post-pregnancy which I’ve seen, I think, two people this year start to use as a part of their abdominal adhesion work.  Those binders are generally wider, they come down over the hips and up to the ribs.  And it’s sort of creating that abdominal girdle.  And these binders are flexible.  I’ll always recommend against anything it’s not truly flexible.  You still need to be able to get your belly expanding and contracting with your breath.  And the folks in my practice this year have been using this to relieve some of the discomfort that is coming from their abdominal adhesions.

Let’s take a moment to talk about the pros and cons of this.

Because the reality is that many of us, just with the clothing we wear: tighter pants that maybe cut into the lower belly so when we sit, there’s that cinching into the belly.  And this can happen with pants that come up higher, around navel-height.  The same thing can happen with that cinching in.  Especially when you sit, there’s an adjustment of the belly, of the low back, of the abdominal contents, and if you have that cinching mechanism in your belly, sometimes that can cause some distress over time.  (See links below.)

So one of the things I want to be really clear about is that, as with most things like this, there is a time and a place for everything.  And I recommend that if you start using a binder of any kind, whether it’s cinching your belt and trying to get your clothes to create that structure for you, or you’re actually using a full abdominal binder of some sort . . . remember that this is something that’s  going to help create structure for your belly as you’re rebuilding the actual muscular girdle of your abdomen.  It is going to help temporarily as you release the adhesions and get your belly more comfortable.

In the cases that I’ve seen, and with other folks that I’ve talked with, the abdominal binders are best used as a short-term strategy, rather than thinking about it for the rest your life.  Certainly there are circumstances in which it might be a much more long-term, years-long, possibly the rest of your life situation – but I think that’s going to be, by far, the lesser percentage.

For the rest of us, it’s really about temporarily creating a structure – that feeling of containment – while we work on releasing our organs, releasing the abdominal wall, releasing the fascia, the peritoneal sac, all of that good stuff.  We want to build the strength not just of our abdomen, but also of our glutes and our legs.  And we want to use the binder as a temporary help rather than a long-term solution.

So then let’s talk about ways that we can use the binding, something tied around your waist, or a full binder to your advantage for the short term.  That way you can get that long-term relief.

One of the things I’ll say right up front is make sure that if you are using a binder on a daily basis, remember to come back to your hands-on work.  Hopefully all of you at this point have watched the very first video in the Recover series.  That first video is part of the Free Tour, and then of course if you sign up for the Recover Program you get all of this information.  But in the first video you really learn how to start engaging with the tissues of your belly in a constructive way.

So if you are using your binder for any period of significant time throughout the day or night, please make sure that when you take it off that you’re giving your belly breathing room, that you’re doing your breathing exercises that we talked about in the last blog post.  Make sure that you’re doing your hands-on to make sure you’re mobilizing those tissues that may have gotten a little stuck while the binder was on throughout the day (or night).

I understand that the binder can produce a lot of relief, but it can also work against you if you’re not releasing and bringing lots of circulation to the tissues when you take it off.

One of the best ways to use a binder, in my opinion, is as temporary support as you begin to rebuild the muscles of your abdomen.  Please start the video at 9:04 for a demonstration of my (current) favorite rebuilding exercises.


Exercises for Pelvic and Abdominal Pain

Skinny Jeans and Your Pelvis – I didn’t mention this in the video, but I love this blog post of Susan’s and it fits beautifully with what we’re talking about today.

The Recover Program – my signature program for helping your belly heal.

Author Profile

Isabel Spradlin
Isabel Spradlin
Isabel Spradlin is a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and abdominal adhesion specialist in Portland, OR. She specializes in educating people about manual treatment (massage) for abdominal pain and dysfunction, especially when it is adhesion related. Please see the "Programs" page to see her offerings.

4 thoughts on “Adhesions and Daily Life #2 – Binders”

  1. Are there any binders you can recommend? Everything I see online looks too restrictive. I’m in a lot of pain from colitis and partial bowel obstruction caused by c diff. Thank you


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