I've written a few blogs about diastasis recti, but the information and recommendations are constantly changing, so I thought it was time to write an update.
First of all, if you haven't read my previous blog on diastasis recti in pregnancy, know that it is normal to develop diastasis recti during pregnancy. It is unavoidable.
Diastasis recti is defined as the separation of the rectus abdominus, or six pack muscles. These muscles have two sides that meet in the middle of the abdomen and are connected via connective tissue, which is what gets stretched in diastasis recti. It isn't a hole in the muscle, that is called a hernia. Diastsis recti is a thinning of the connective tissue holding the two sides of the muscle together.
Most of my new moms heal their diastasis recti in about 6 weeks postpartum. If you aren't that far postpartum, be patient, it will most likely heal.
If you are more than 6-8 weeks postpartum and still have a significant diastasis recti, then it is time to seek more help and assistance in healing.
Also know that after pregnancy it is normal to have about a 1 finger width separation. That will likely always be there and that is normal. Your abs will never feel 100% like they did prior to pregnancy and that is ok. You grew a human inside that abdomen! That is something to celebrate.
We measure diastasis recti not only by the width of the separation but also by the depth. If it is narrow and shallow that is probably ok. If it is either a deep or a wide separation or both, then that is the time to get some help to strengthen and support the abdominal muscles.
For diastisis recti postpartum we still want to avoid any doming or tenting of the center of the abdomen. Because the tissues are thinner in the center if there is too much pressure on the muscles this can cause a doming or tenting and that could prevent the abdominal muscles from healing.
Here are some of the basic things I teach to start healing the diastasis recti:
1. Connect with your breath. Take a big inhale and let the abdominal muscles relax and let the air expand into the abdomen. On the exhale the abdomen should go flatter as the air leaves your body.
2. Start with that belly breath again and this time try to very gently engage the abdominal muscles on the exhale. This isn't a big, full force gripping of the abdominal muscles, but a very gentle way to just turn them on and pulling them together. Don't necessary suck in, but think of pulling together. You can even visualize the muscles coming together.
3. After you can do that you can add any other kind of challenge to the abdominals. This is where everyone progresses at a different pace. Sometimes I have patients add a marching motion or a dead bug progression. Sometimes we add upper body resistance. There are many different options at this point to progress the challenges to strengthen the abdominals.
Give these exercises a try and see if they help. If you know you need more specific help to heal your diastasis recti schedule an appointment through the website or schedule a free to call to find out more how we can help you either in person or virtually.