What is Diastasis Recti?

If you have slight diastasis recti, education is so important! We need to know what we’re working with!

Step 1 Watch the videos on this page,
Step 2 Read through the Ab Rehab guide
Step 3 If you haven’t done so already, start our Diastasis Recti program.  If you’ve had a baby within the last 12 months, use our Custom Postnatal program.  These programs break it down to the basic foundation (working your transverse abdominis and pelvic floor with diastasis – safe exercises). Each phase of this program builds on this foundation, eventually adding your “traditional” exercises.

Believe it or not, research has shown that at least 45% of moms have an abdominal separation (or diastasis recti) six months postpartum. Most don’t even know that it’s there until they experience a weak core, a belly they don’t like (i.e. the mommy tummy, muffin top or any other ugly name we call it!) and low back pain.

What can happen as a result of an expanding belly during pregnancy is the distancing of the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscles. It creates a distance between your rectus abdonimis muscles into a left and right side and the muscles can no longer contract effectively.

You are more prone to this abdominal gap if you have a weaker abdominal wall, if you were carrying a large baby, if you were carrying more than one baby, if you have a narrow pelvis, if you have more than one child, if had them close together, or if you’re over 35 when you get pregnant.

After this long list of predisposing factors, you can see why this condition is prevalent.

That said our bodies are made to bear children and are also resilient in getting back to their prior self. Postpartum there is less intra-abdominal pressure – as you regain your former self, body fat decreases, baby is out and pressure is reduced.

In our Diastasis Recti program I use cues to consistently strengthen your transverse abdominis, which plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of diastasis.  We talk more about this in the Exercises for Diastasis section below.

If you have performed a self-test, you MUST get a diagnosis from your doctor. If you have a moderate to severe case of diastasis…I always recommend working 1-1 with a physical therapist that specializes in women’s health!

Self Test

Place 2 fingers along the midline of the belly (horizontal). The diastasis, or separation, can happen anywhere along the midline, although usually closer to the navel since that is the biggest part of the belly during pregnancy.

Perform the self-test, then seek a professional for a diagnosis.

Meet Jenn, a mom who didn’t discover her own mild diastasis until she was over 5 years postpartum! In this video from our Prenatal & Postnatal Fitness Summit, Megan, a Physical Therapist, shows how and where to find an abdominal separation:

For some moms, it takes a few weeks to bridge the gap. And for some moms it takes months. Know your body and treat it well! You won’t want to advance to “traditional” ab training until the condition is better.

Mild Case = 2-3 finger widths

Moderate Case = 3-4 finger widths

Severe Case = 4+ finger widths

In most cases we recommend you meet 1-1 with a physical therapist or physical therapist!

If you’ve had a c-section we recommend getting that scar tissue and fascia moving the right way. When the fascia is restricted, our bodies always find a way to compensate and can cause other issues. Again you can find that info in the Ab Rehab Guide!

Exercises for Diastasis Recti

A series of core-specific workouts – found in both the Diastasis Recti & Postnatal programs – combined with the cues for scar tissue, fascia, running, etc. (found in the Ab Rehab guide) will help you train your core from the inside out by strengthening the transverse abdominis (or TA).  You can try these programs FREE for two weeks!

Use our Diastasis Recti program if you are > 1 year postpartum.

Use our Postnatal program if you are <1 year postpartum.

TA exercises approximate the recti bellies, which in turn helps to close the gap and strengthen the integrity of the linea alba.

The focus of exercise for DR involves re-education of the “core” muscles to allow for optimal function and load transfer in functional positions and activities. Progression of these exercises are made with caution and only after you can successfully perform specific activation of the transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis without exacerbating the DR…which is why our diastasis recti program is three different phases.  You choose when your body is ready to progress!

Not only will you learn how to cue the TA, you will strengthen the TA, creating a healthy core.  It will teach you how to use these inner core muscles, how to do arm and leg exercises while keeping the belly tissues safe and slowly add traditional exercises as the condition gets better.

Watch the video below to see how Lisa, a rock star mom of three, reduced her own large diastasis (which was once four finger-widths wide) down to half its original size.  She did this through exercise only.


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