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How to fix postpartum or years later diastasis recti

Last winter I saw my abs slowly fade. I maintained my workouts and eating habits, but my tummy was growing with a baby on the way. I was pregnant and thrilled, and a six pack was the last thing I thought about. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I also developed a fear of “breaking” my heart and hurting my future mom-shaped goals, to the point where I completely avoided abdominal movements in my routine. early pregnancy sweating. I knew staying active was healthy for mom and baby, so I looked for a prenatal trainer to allay my concerns.

Dealing with the separation of your abs is actually a very real thing during pregnancy and postpartum. In fact, 66% of women will experience it in the third trimester, and it’s more common in those who have a cesarean section or give birth to multiples.

Life in danger? No. A change of life? Certainly. “Diastasis recti can make a difference in the way everything else in your body works,” says Sarah Bradford, CPT, founder of Luna Mother Collective.

But the gap doesn’t have to be permanent – there are evidence-based routines to get your heart to click again. “Putting to work can make you a better athlete and stronger than the pre-baby,” says Brooke Cates, CPT, prenatal and postnatal corrective exercise specialist and founder of the Bloom Method. Read on to know the best approaches to fix diastasis recti at any stage of recovery and then go correct.

First, what exactly is diastasis recti?

Diastasis recti (DR) is the technical term for that space (diastasis = separation) of varying size and depth along the connective tissue that holds the left and right sides of the right abdomen muscle tightly together. In severe cases, the DR resembles a rounded dog and can lead to health issues such as lower back pain and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Have your doctor look for it six weeks after giving birth or try the finger check (coming soon!). Yes, you can use your fingers to measure the severity of diastasis recti and your progress, says Leah Keller, CPT, creator of the Every Mother’s EMbody program.

How to tell if you have diastasis recti:

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent.

2. At your belly button, place three fingers pointing along your midline towards your toes.

3. Lift your head up an inch to engage your abs, so that they “catch” your fingers. Add or subtract fingers as you like for the width and depth of the ravine at the center line.

4. Repeat 2.5 inches below and above the belly button. Any deviation wider than an inch indicates recti diastasis.

How to fix diastasis recti

You can start the gradual restoration of the trunk in the form of gentle movements and breathing work on the first day of recovery from a vaginal birth (or one week after the cesarean section). “When have we ever had an injury where we tell someone to sit down and do nothing?” Cates points out. You can actually cure separation from home if you start early and only have a mild case. In fact, women who completed an online 12-week postpartum core strengthening program significantly improved their DR and associated pain, according to a new study in the Journal of Women’s Health Physiotherapy.

During the first few weeks, facilitate healing with diaphragmatic breathing (slow, intentional, deep into the rib cage). Plus, get the most out of functional movement and engage your transverse abdomen and pelvic floor in actions, like lifting baby or getting up from a chair, to manage intra-abdominal pressure. Remember to activate the trunk correctly with each exhale and to “wrap” the transverse abdominal muscle around your torso, like a corset. (With practice, this will become automatic.)

After four to six weeks, start working on the dead bedbugs, lying on your back with your knees bent in a tabletop position and slowly lower one heel to the floor and back up, alternating sides with your exhale to activate and strengthen the deep core . When you feel ready to introduce movements that place more strain on the abdomen (think: full planks), remember to pull back if you can’t feel your abs engaged throughout the range of motion, or if you notice that your belly swells, so you won’t be hampering the rehabilitation work you are doing.

I don’t see any progress with my diastasis recti recovery. Which give?

Everyone’s journey is different, depending on genetics and personal experiences. If your division is not moving after 12 weeks, these factors could be in play.

  • Ignore your heart off the mat. Consciously engaging your abdominal muscles in everyday movements, such as when standing or lying in a seat, helps muscles repair themselves.
  • Hormones. The excess progesterone and relaxin from pregnancy encourages the muscle relaxation necessary for childbirth, but makes it more difficult to tighten the abdominals quickly. Give it time.
  • Do crunches or sit-ups. These forward bending movements can actually worsen the abdominal separation by adding pressure to the connective tissue. To avoid.

    Speak to your gynecologist or physiotherapist familiar with DR to help you identify potential barriers to your recovery.

    When to work with a specialist

    No results after 6 to 12 weeks? Even a session with a physiotherapist (general or pelvic floor) can make a difference, says Krystle Howald, PT, co-founder of Expecting and Empowered. A physical therapist will also apply pressure to trigger points on the stomach to “release” the tension, she says, and help the muscles return to the correct position, so to speak. (Check to see if your insurance covers perinatal / postpartum PT.)

    Don’t forget the credits. Prenatal and postpartum certifications are signs of relevant training in addition to standard PT accreditation or personal training, says Julie M. Levitt, MD, a gynecologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. You can also ask an expert if she has personally treated DR (this is this common!).

      Is there anything I can do to prevent diastasis recti?

      Stretched abs as your baby grows is inevitable, but you can and should maintain a strong core. Two of the most important things for your middle muscles to do are breathing exercises and pelvic floor engagement exercises throughout the day, as well as modifications made to relieve the abdominals during your workouts. Following a virtual DR program that brings it all together, like Luna Mother Collective, The Bloom Method, or EMbody, take the guesswork out of implementing changes.

      With each platform, on-demand classes are easy to follow and start with 5-10 minutes, guiding you through key practices such as breathing work, strengthening exercises that help avoid RD issues difficult to solve, and more.

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