Updated: May 13, 2020
Diastasis Recti is when the muscles of the abdominals separate. The space between the left and right belly muscles has widened creating a disconnection. This condition is common during pregnancy and postpartum. It can cause back pain, digestive issues and visible separation of the abdominal muscles.
It takes several weeks or even months to restore the separation of the muscle. It can take up to a year postpartum to completely heal. Certain exercises can make it worse and prevent healing. If you suspect you may have this condition what should you do?
There are several exercises you can avoid to help prevent or heal Diastasis Recti:
Most traditional abdominal exercises
High Plank (do modified plank on the knees instead)
Rolling up to a seated position
You may want to avoid these types of exercises up to one year postpartum while you are healing. If you are postpartum and you've given your body at least 6 weeks to recover after birth. Your doctor can check and measure how far apart your muscles are using finger widths or a measuring tape.
Healthy Spinal Awareness
During pregnancy and postpartum always come up to a seated position from your side. Avoid rolling up to a seated position. This will cause strain around the abdomen and may cause a separation of the muscles over time. This is especially important when getting out of bed.
Roll onto one side. Press your hands on the surface and slowly push yourself up to a seated position. Stay aware not to strain the abdominal muscles.
Safe core work for postnatal women:
Any exercise with the belly pulled to the back. It is important to strengthen the muscle girdle at the base of the abdomen. Avoid crunches and most traditional abdominal exercises.
Lie on the spine. Bring the knees above the hips and hold stationary. Line up the ankles with the knees. Your lower legs will make a right angle. Press the lower spine into the floor. Hold for about five breaths while pulling the lower belly towards the spine. This is a static pose. Use the breath to support this exercise. On the inhale, gently expand the diaphragm. On the exhale, tone the abdominal muscles as you draw them towards the center.
*It is recommended that all postnatal women wait at least six weeks postpartum before resuming their yoga practice.
This video is a ten minute postnatal yoga practice for healing Diastasis Recti.