Diastasis Recti: Your Do’s and Don’ts

Have you heard of diastasis recti? It’s extremely common during and post-pregnancy but what surprises me is the lack of information and support provided to women about how to treat it and the exercises you need to avoid to prevent making it WORSE!

Diastasis recti are the separation of the abdominal muscles down the centre of your tummy (your ‘six-pack’ muscles).  There are varying degrees of separation and a mild separation (approx 2 finger widths) will usually go back to normal with minimal intervention. A larger separation needs intervention (there are some recommendations below) and in rarer, more severe cases, separation requires surgical intervention.

So how do you know if you’ve got it?
If you haven’t already been assessed post-birth by your healthcare professional there is a quick test you can do yourself at home. Lie comfortably on your back with your knees bent. Place two fingers in the midline of your stomach just below your navel pressing in gently about a centimetre or so. Leaving your shoulders on the ground, lift your head to look at your fingers. You should feel your ab muscles close in around your fingertips. Your aiming for a 1-2cm gap but doesn’t panic if yours is much larger at first.

It can be a logical thought to fix the separation that you need to strengthen your core. It makes sense. But there’s a CERTAIN WAY you need to go about it and this is where a lot of people get it so wrong.

You want to AVOID doing exercises that put more pressure on your rectus abdominals (the muscles that have separated). This can make them separate further! This means avoiding:
– Crunches
– Sit-ups/chest lift
– Oblique sit-ups
– The Pilates hundred
– Double leg raises
– Tabletop/hanging leg raise

It’s just too much pressure!

The way to bring the abs back together is by working with the DEEPER abdominal muscles aka the transverse abdominals. This means doing things like:
– Connecting your transverse abdominals (lie comfortably on your back with your knees bent and neutral spine. Gently draw your belly button towards your spine as if gently flattening your tummy. Then release.)
– Pelvic floor exercises
– Bridging
– Single bent leg raise from floor/dead bugs with a stable pelvis
– Pelvic rocks/clocks

If you’re after some further info we offer a tutorial on diastasis recti on our online community along with a workout designed especially for post-pregnancy and diastasis recti repair.

If you’re concerned about your diastasis recti healing, have any questions or need further support then it’s beneficial to see someone face to face so they can personalise your treatment. Lookup a qualified practitioner in your area, or, if you’re around the Gold Coast get in touch with us, we would love to support you.

Happy healing mumma bears! x

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