Have you ever wondered why some people, who are obviously thin and in great shape, have a “pot belly.” This phenomena happens mostly to women, but can happen to men, too.
They work their abdominals, do crunches, stick to their diets—and…it doesn’t change. That protruding area right below the belly button. They can try holding it in, but when they stop thinking about it—there it is!
There are several reasons for this pesky problem—and several things people can do about it. Read on!
One of the main reasons for a pot belly in a thin person is an imbalance in the alignment of the pelvis and its associated muscles in which the pelvis rolls forward, spilling the abdominal contents forward.
Try this experiment. Lay on your back on the floor or other firm surface. Does the small of your back touch the floor or is there an arch under your back? If you can slide your hand under your back, it indicates that your pelvis is rolled forward. Try flattening your back by bending your knees up. If your back flattens as your knees come up, you may just have tight hip flexors muscles. These muscles run along the front of your thigh, and cross the crease where your leg meets your trunk (the area of your front pants pockets). Because hip flexors literally bend the leg up (as in marching in place), they tend to get shortened in people who do a lot of sitting. In turn, this tends to roll the pelvis forward and gives the appearance of a pot belly when standing.
Another cause of the increased arch in your back is scar tissue adhesions from abdominal surgeries. These include appendix scars, Cesarean sections and repairs of inguinal hernias, to name a few. Over time, the adhesions may cause restrictions in the fascia and muscles of the lower abdomen and pull the pelvis forward.
To counteract the forward pull on the pelvis, an exercise called the pelvic tilt can prove helpful. Do this by lying on the floor and using your stomach muscles to flatten your back against the floor. This exercise shouldn’t cause any discomfort.
If you have tight hip flexors, bend one knee to your chest and hold it there with your hands while you press the other straightened leg down against the floor. You should feel a stretch in the front of the thigh of the leg pushing into the floor.
For individuals who have abdominal scars, a technique known as myofascial release can help to free the restrictive action of the scar tissue on the surrounding structures. No matter how old a scar is, fascial work can significantly improve mobility of the tissue and can decrease the forward pull on the pelvis, resulting in more balanced posture and less of a pot belly.
Of course, consult your physician before you do any of the exercises mentioned above. And if you do the exercises, proceed gently and firmly, without making fast or abrupt movements. Give your body an opportunity to get used to the exercises, and do them regularly over time. Take care of your body so it can take care of you.