For over eight months, I avoided touching my core after birthing my twins, Mario and Eva. When I was brave enough to do it, I noticed a 3 finger separation. I had a diastasis recti, a natural separation that occurs during pregnancy and especially with twins.
If you have one, please don’t worry. It can close, but more importantly, you can learn how to engage your pelvic floor and core to prevent a lifetime of back pain, knee pain, and unnecessary surgeries.
How do I check for a Diastasis Recti?
You can asses your DR whether you are pregnant, a first-time mom or more seasoned. Jessie Mundell (Physiotherapist) recommends waiting two weeks postpartum to do your first assessment.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. First just feel. Feel around your belly button, above and below. (I waited 8 months to feel my DR as I just “didn’t want to touch it”!)
Feel for the quality of the tissue (specifically the line alba- the center), do your fingers sink in? Is it firm? Is it squishy? You have to know what you are working and what it first feels like to see your progression.
The goal is to: Maintain INTEGRITY with exercise and to do so, we need to know where to begin. Lift your shirt and expose your belly.
Next, place fingers pointing downward with the middle finger in the umbilicus
Tuck your chin towards your chest and slowly lift your head off the floor. Only your head should come off the floor. Keep your shoulders down. Repeat a few time. Feel for a separation.
Check above and below your umbilicus and note how many fingers width the separation is and the quality of the tissue.
Greater than 2 fingers are significant. If yours is wider, seek out a pelvic floor physiotherapist for a complete diagnosis.
The goal is to strengthen the connective tissue, not necessarily decrease the separation completely.
Movements to do with diastasis recti:
- Sitting to standing… slide to the end of the chair and use your legs to stand.
- Getting off the floor- lunge one foot forward, hands-on front thigh, move weight to the front foot and push with your leg strength to rise up, reverse to go down.
- Every morning>>> Roll to your side to get up. DO NOT jackknife out of bed.
When laying down always ROLL to your side and push up.
What is the Rectus Abdominis?
“The rectus abdominis muscle, also known as the “abdominals” or “abs”, is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the human abdomen, as well as that of some other mammals. There are two parallel muscles, separated by a midline band of connective tissue called the linea alba.”- Wikipedia
It’s the linea alba that spreads during a separation.
What are the best Diastasis Recti Exercises?
- First, check your rib cage. You want your ribs to sit over your hips.
- Check your pelvis. You want to “untuck” your tush when sitting and standing. Think of releasing your buttocks.
- Diaphragmatic breaths. Take deep breaths allowing your abdominals to let go.
- Engage your pelvic floor.
- Abdominal pumps. Check out my video below.
Most importantly remember, your body has an amazing capacity to heal. I have helped women reduce their diastasis recti within 8 weeks.
Even if your children are 20+, you may still be able to close the gap and learn new movements to protect your back, hips, knees and pelvic floor for a lifetime of fluid movement.