Ever wonder why even though it has been quite some time since you’ve had your baby, you still look about three months pregnant? Can’t get rid of a stubborn mom pooch? Don’t have any core ab strength and suffer from lower back pain? Do you see a ridge or dome form down the center of your abs during certain movements?
Well I do!
I have whats called Diastasis Recti (DR for short) and you might too! In simple terms, DR is when your core ab muscles stay separated after pregnancy due to the thinning or weakening of the connective tissues that hold these muscles together. Your muscles wrap around from your back to your front and connect together in the middle by connective tissue (called linea alba).
When your belly grows those muscles stretch, the connective tissues stretch as well and weaken causing your abs to pull apart. And once you have your baby, you stay with that gap. So now your organs push out and press against that gap and further weaken it. Resulting in that mom pooch. When your ab muscles are weakened they don’t function properly and you may tend to suffer from back pain and all other sorts of discomfort. Most women suffer from ab separation after birth and have absolutely no idea! Some women have Diastasis Recti and still appear to “look normal” after birth. Every woman who has given birth should work on recuperating core strength regardless of what you look like. I have spent countless hours researching and finding professionals in this area and am here to share all that I’ve learned with you! I’ll answer some typical questions about DR below.
You can perform a simple test.
Lie on your back with your knees up. Place one hand behind your head and place the fingertips of your other hand (parallel to your waist) at your belly button. In other words, make sure your palm is facing you. Then place them above and below it. Gently press your fingertips into your abdomen, measuring how many fingers fit in the gap. You’ll do this twice; once relaxed and once while you lift your head while engaging your muscles. Measure the separation in these three areas. Keep in mind that they may be different. Also note that the deeper your fingers sink in, the more stretched out your connective tissue is. Normal connective tissue will feel as though your fingers bounce off.
Make sure you write down your results!
Don’t just focus on the gap, check on the DEPTH! Both relaxed and fully engaged.
A 2-finger or more gap is considered Diastasis Recti. There you have it! Now you’ll know if you have DR or not. You may also have functioning Diastasis that won’t reveal itself in most movements except during specific movements like a back squat or kettle ball swing, or pull ups etc. Look for doming, bulging or coning! It still means you have DR, just functional. It is SUPER important to adjust some exercises while you continue to heal it thoroughly.
Unfortunately, no you can not. But there are some things you can do to help not make it worse. For instance, when you get up, roll to your side and push yourself up instead of forcing your abs to do all the work by sitting up.
No. Some doctors will tell you surgery is the only way to fix this problem and some doctors will tell you it’s not. In my opinion, I think so many people (including doctors) are not extensively educated about healing DR and don’t really know how to how to fix it other than surgery. BUT in some extreme cases, surgery may be the only way to fully heal. But you can still do exercises to increase your core strength before and after surgery.
Your core muscles are the center of all movement in your body. So, I would say they’re highly important! But what muscles does your core consist of you ask?
These are the muscles that make up majority of your mid-section, back and bottom base. Weak core muscles result in back pain, loss of balance, loss of bladder control, bad posture, etc.
You can perform specific core exercises
BREATHING while engaging your core is KEY! Take a deep breathe and on exhale, engage by lifting your pelvic floor muscles. This will activate your transverse abdominis muscles (TA for short). Imagine pulling all your muscles from your pubic bone up to your belly button. Your TA muscles are what stabilize your pelvis and lower back so you can imagine how important strengthening them are for your overall health, not just appearance.
Focus, go slow and controlled!
Keep your pelvis stable and core engaged. Make sure your abs aren’t bulging outward. One way to do this while laying on your back, is to make sure your lower back is touching the floor while engaged. Imagine someone pulling your belly button to the floor. This lifts your pelvic floor and strengthens it. Giving you better bladder control, core strength and… drumroll… sex life.
There are a couple of things you should avoid doing in order to prevent DR from getting worse. Basically anything that puts pressure on your abdominal wall or movements that cause your stomach to bulge.
Some of these exercises are:
NO! Never, not even if it has been 20 years! Your body wants to heal! You just have to help it.
If you have any tips or questions feel free to ask or share with me in the comments below. If you would like me to share more information or workouts specific to diastasis recti, please send me a message by clicking here!
This post does not replace the advice of a medical professional. Please seek a medical or certified professional for advice on yourself and your particular condition. This post is my recollection of research and my own experience with diastasis recti.