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Diastasis Recti Exercises And Holistic Healing

Diastasis Recti is a separation of ab muscles down the abdominal wall. During pregnancy everyone has some degree of separation and oftentimes postpartum those muscles come back together but in some cases, the separation is significant enough that it doesn’t come back on its own.

Diastasis recti is one of the most noticeable changes people are concerned with postpartum because it is visible. There are 3 degrees of separation 1st, is 1 finger width, 2 is 2 finger width, 3 is 3 finger widths. I see clients that believe that surgery is the only solution.

Diastasis Recti Exercises

Because diastasis recti is located on the abdominal wall, most people believe that core exercises need to be the focus. Core Strength is key but not in the standard idea of crunches and HITT workouts. The key to restoring core strength with diastasis recti exercises is to restore optimal core pressure; this will allow the natural tension to facilitate healing.

So let’s review core strength, it’s not just abs! It includes the pelvic floor, glutes, hips, and low back. What we want to have happen is we want the transverse abdominal muscles to start to pull the abdominal wall back together. We want the pelvic floor to relax so it isn’t adding to the core pressure that is preventing the muscles from healing.

The number one exercise I recommend is transverse abdominal activation. I know it sounds complicated but essentially it is contracting your lower ab muscles the muscles below your belly button. This is the first recommendation because these muscles connect to both sides of the hips to help offset pelvic floor tension and bring the abdominal muscles back together.

Diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing is the second diastasis recti exercise I recommend because when we take deep breaths our diaphragm descends into the core and adds downward pressure onto the pelvic floor helping to relax it and reduce the internal pressure that is contributing to the ab separation.

Diastasis Recti Symptoms

The most common symptoms of diastasis recti are a visible separation of the abdominal muscles or a feeling like there is a soft spot in the middle of your core. Also visible is a bulge or tenting when you do a crunch motion. Another symptom that is correlated is low back pain, this is because the core isn’t supporting your skeleton as much and is causing more low back tension.

How To Repair A Diastasis Recti

I recommend working with a Pelvic Expert Physical Therapist, they will be able to diagnose the grade of diastasis you have and provide internal manual therapy to reduce the scar tissue and tension within the pelvic floor. Address any hip or back pain caused by the reduced core strength as well as provide safe and effective exercises to restore optimal core pressure and strength.

What To Avoid If You Have Diastasis Recti?

The crunch or curl-up movement both in exercise and daily life until proper healing of the Diastasis has occurred. You have to learn to coordinate the Transverse abdominis muscle to drive the movement with your breath pattern to safely crunch or curl up with a diastasis recti. Something people don’t realize is even getting up from a couch we kind of roll ourselves forward using this core movement that can increase the diastasis by adding pressure to the core. High-intensity workouts should also be avoided until core healing postpartum has occurred. The Relaxin hormone in our system goes back to normal 3 days postpartum but the joint stability and flexibility don’t immediately go back to normal and if one is lactating then it can take even longer. So in order to help reduce injury occurrence, it’s best to ease your way back to high-intensity workouts.


Allison Feldt

Body Motion Physical Therapy

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