One of the most-common conditions that I treat as a physical therapist is diastasis recti (DR). This is a condition that affects up to 60% of women either during pregnancy or postpartum. Fortunately, there’s a lot that exercise can do to help this condition if done correctly. Today I wanted to share with you 3 ab exercises you should definitely NOT do with a DR, and what you should do instead to tone your abs and help heal this separation.
ALL-NEW – Postpartum abs workout program designed specifically to flatten your stomach and heal diastasis recti! See my wife’s powerful story and get yours today at this link: https://www.toneandtightenstore.com/mommytummyfix
ALL MOMS SHOULD WATCH THIS VIDEO: https://youtu.be/0p414aFPDEY
PHASE ONE DIASTASIS RECTI WORKOUT PROGRAM: https://youtu.be/7_gvlHOarPQ
HOW TO CHECK IF YOU HAVE A DIASTASIS RECTI ABDOMINAL SEPARATION: https://youtu.be/2sQWVVjxSoU
BEST EXERCISES FOR DIASTASIS RECTI: https://youtu.be/4MTn4DyQnuk
YOUR FIRST POSTPARTUM CORE WORKOUT: https://youtu.be/sxpvMHpS5Jo
*** As always – GET CLEARANCE FROM YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING THIS OR ANY WORKOUT PROGRAM. 6 weeks post-partum is the most generally-accepted “safe time” to resume some of these activities, but it’s always best to have your doctor’s clearance for your own unique situation. ***
What is a diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti is a separation of the two halves of your forward-most abdominal muscle – the rectus abdominis.
In instances of strenuous pressure on the abdomen and abdominal cavity the connective tissue between the halves of the rectus abdominis can be stretched, pulled, and eventually even separate. This is what we refer to as a “diastasis recti”.
How do you get a diastasis recti?
Any condition that causes increased pressure and strain on the anterior abdominal wall has potential to cause the diastasis condition. The most-common is pregnancy; the growing fetus and uterus put stress on the abdominal wall which is intensified with aggressive muscle contractions during childbirth. Other causes can include excess belly fat, intense core workouts involving sit ups and crunches, and even the flu (vomiting and/or forceful coughing).
Which exercises should I avoid with diastasis recti?
You should avoid any exercise that forcefully contracts your rectus abdominis against gravity. Again, this muscle is the primary “flexor” of your core and is active in activities such as sit ups and crunches.
Best exercises for diastasis recti?
The best exercises for a diastasis recti condition are those that activate your deepest abdominal layer, the transverse abdominis (TA). This muscle runs from your lower back around your sides and connects into this same connective tissue that has been separated. This muscle’s primary action is to “draw everything in” and pull your belly button in towards your spine. Activating this muscle and performing this motion will help to bring the two separated halves of the rectus abdominis closer together and “close the gap”
EXERCISES TO AVOID WITH DIASTASIS RECTI – AND WHAT TO DO INSTEAD
*DON’T do ab crunches*
Ab crunches contract the upper half of the transverse abdominis muscle forcefully against gravity. This focused contraction can pull the two halves of the muscle further apart and put more strain on this area.
*DO abdominal bracing/hollowing*
Instead, try some stomach vacuums. This is a great exercise to really activate the transverse abdominis and bring the two halves of the rectus closer together.
*DON’T do sit ups*
Again – a forceful contraction of the rectus abdominis muscle that’s even MORE aggressive than a crunch. It not only contracts the rectus against gravity, but it actually does it against a much greater range of motion. Big no no.
*DO dying bugs*
Dying bugs are a great way to activate a ton of abdominal muscles with specific emphasis on the TA while not moving the trunk through much motion.
*DON’T do planks*
Planks are actually one of my favorite core exercises. They activate a ton of core muscles and can be super effective. The thing I don’t like about planks for a DR condition is that it’s a forceful contraction of your RA agains gravity, but you’ve also got the weight of all your internal organs hanging out on the already-weakened anterior abdominal wall.
*DO side planks*
The solution is side planks. Simply by rotating your forward plank into a side plank we take stress off the anterior wall and shift it to the lateral wall. It’s also easier to activate the TA (“draw it in”) while holding a side plank.
Controlled and consistent contraction of the transverse abdominis muscle is crucial to helping minimize your abdominal gap and help you get your stomach back to “normal”.