Exercises for Diastasis Recti

Many women who have been pregnant complain about their “Mummy tummy.” One of the common causes of flabby lower abdominal muscles is Diastasis Recti. Diastasis recti is the separation of the middle of your abdominal muscles. While pregnancy is the most common cause, it is not the only cause by any means. In fact, men can also have diastasis recti. Other possible causes include a large weight gain & loss, excess abdominal crunches, lifting with improper form, hernias, abdominal surgery, or umbilical hernia in infants.†

Lose your mummy tummy - 6 exercises to help correct Diastasis Recti - Forty by Forty Fitness

Lose your mummy tummy – 6 exercises to help correct Diastasis Recti

Try to think of your ab muscles being held together by a zipper. When you have Diastasis Recti the zipper splits in the middle and the two sides are separated.  When you lie on your back and crunch up your abs may bunch up like a shark fin in the middle if you have diastasis. You can test to see if you have Diastasis Recti by laying on your back and lifting your head off the ground. Take 3 fingers and feel the center line of your abs, also known as the linea alba. There should be a dip in the center of your abdomen where it is soft, with firmer tissue on the outer edges. What you are feeling is the inner walls of your rectus abdominus muscles. If the soft gap in between the muscles is greater than 2 1/2 fingers in width then you have Diastasis Recti.

As a mom of 4, I have experienced Diastasis Recti firsthand. It is more likely to occur if you have several pregnancies close together (check!), large babies (check!), or a multiple pregnancy such as twins or triplets (nope!) 🙂  Common core exercises, such as crunches, can actually exacerbate the condition and prevent it from healing. The video below shows how to test for Diastasis Recti, and gives 6 exercises to help correct it. These are exercises that I personally used after having my children. The exercises are broken down into beginner, moderate, and advanced. I recommend that you do them in sequence as your abs get stronger and your Diastasis begins to heal. If you are unsure whether you have Diastasis or another medical condition, please consult your doctor.  

Another option for helping diastasis recti heal is to splint it. I have personally never tried this option, so I can’t give recommendations on splints. This article from fit2b.us gives a great explanation of what splinting is, and how to do it. †Sources: www.pelvicpainrehab.com, www.webmd.com

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Comments

  1. Thanks, Aimee! Great read!

  2. Janet Eagon says:

    Great information. Thanks Aimee

  3. Great info and exercises! Thanks so much for linking up and sharing! 🙂

  4. Tightening my tummy is always on my mind. Despite the fact that I train and work out regularly that area is the last frontier so I am delighted that you shared “Lose your mummy tummy – 6 exercises to help correct Diastasis Recti” with us at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop! I’m pinning and sharing!

  5. Thanks for posting! I’m still struggling with this slightly. Although it has gotten better. My baby is 9 months old now and I really need to buckle down on these exercises with summer coming up!

  6. I’m so glad you shared this! I’ll be needing it in a few months!

  7. In bodybuilding there are some famous athletes who also experienced it. They start to realize that something is “wrong” when they fail to get six-packs no matter the efforts. Great blog! #blogboosterparty3

  8. Thanks for posting this! I know I have diastasis recti from my last pregnancy. i have heard good things about fit2b, but I haven’t checked it out. I need to! 🙂 #blogboosterparty3

  9. Great info for new moms, lol, for me Im way passed this time!
    Thanks for hosting and sharing on Friday Features Linky Party!
    Karren

  10. This is such great information! I haven’t had any kids yet, but I’ll be certain to check for this when I do! Thanks for linking up!

  11. Great video, and I am so glad I watched this, thank you!

  12. Great info Aimee. I’m curious about #blogboosterparty. Off to check out the link.

    Have an awesome weekend and thanks for linking up with Fitness Friday 🙂

  13. My girlfriend experienced this because she had 2 children back-to-back. It looked like she was pregnant even after more than a year of having the children. She started lifting heavy weights and that is what helped her reduce the view of her abs. She looks great. I will share this post with her. #wowlinkup

  14. Thanks for a great post. After 3 kids, if I could fix any one thing on my body, it would be my stomach!

  15. I suffer with this too so thanks for sharing – Thanks for linking up to Pin Worthy Wednesday, I have pinned your post to the Pin Worthy Wednesday Pinterest Board

  16. eliz frank says:

    After carrying twins almost to term, you can imagine what I had to battle with. Over time and with exercise and diet, it did bring back a bit. I enjoyed this informative post.

  17. Never heard of this before! I will certainly pin for others! Thanks for the introduction.

  18. Great post! Thanks for linking up to Tips & Tricks – hope to see you again this week!!

  19. Please explain “why” and “how” these specific excersizes will correct diastisis recti. I guess I’m just not getting the connection? Also, shouldn’t we hold our pelvic floor up and in whilst performing these excersizes? I’ve found that I have trouble there too, ugh….big babies short mama
    Thanks!

    • Great question T.J.! The reason these exercises help is because they activate the transverse abdominus, which is the deepest layer of abdominal muscle. When you contract your transverse abdominus, it essentially acts as a girdle, drawing your abs together. You want to avoid any exercises that cause you to arch your back, or any moves that cause you to pull your upper spine forward (such as crunches), as that can exacerbate the problem.

      As far as the issue with the pelvic floor, that is actually a separate problem not related to diastasis recti. While it doesn’t hurt to contract the pelvic floor while performing this exercises, if it causes you to lose your focus on controlling the proper core muscles, then I would suggest you just focus on the exercises for diastasis, and do your Kegel exercises separately. I hope this helps!

  20. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to
    do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to know where u got this from.
    appreciate it

    • I used Little Web Writing Hood to design my blog. There is a link to her Etsy shop in my footer if you would like to contact her. She did excellent work.

  21. Hi. Thank you for the video. I think I have diastasis recti, maybe 2.5 fingers. I have a 3yo and 1yo both via c-section (very large babies for my frame). I have lost all the baby weight and I’ve always been petite and fit. And honestly I have to give myself credit, I think I look really good and I’ve been working hard (4x a week since Feb) but I am just nervous that maybe I’ve been doing some bad exercises. I don’t plank because I read that was bad but I have done bicycles and Straight leg lifts while laying down. If I try crunches I can do them, they don’t hurt. Should I still not do them? How long could it take for this to heal or will my abs always have some level of separation. I wear a girdle and I have found that it greatly helps and I would absolutely recommend it. I guess I just don’t know or understand when I can start doing normal exercises again without causing it to be worse. All these above are not difficult for me and I feel like I should be doing more. Do I need to fight that urge and just keep doing them? Never a gym goer, I love DVDs to do at home after the kids go to bed.

    I hope this reaches you. I just always knew what I was doing and now I feel a little lost, am I helping or hurting myself :/ Thank you for any advice.

    • Hi Jen,
      Good for you for putting in the hard work to get back into shape after having 2 little ones close in age! I know that’s not easy to do. Way to go mama!

      I would avoid bicycles & crunches just until the diastasis heals. The amount of time it takes to heal really depends on how severe your case is. From the sounds of it, I would guess that you
      have a mild to moderate case, so keep checking it every few weeks to see if it is beginning to close. You may always have a small separation (roughly one finger width is pretty normal). I
      understand that these aren’t the most challenging exercises if you are already pretty fit. Try really focusing on the isometric contraction of drawing your belly button in to your spine, and
      holding it as you go through the exercise. (Just don’t hold your breath.) If you are 1 year post partum you may want to start weaning off the girdle, as it can actually weaken your ab muscles
      over time because your body relies on it for support instead of your core. You can still wear it occasionally, just don’t wear it all the time. 🙂

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions. You can also email me through my contact page if you need more info.

  22. Great write up! Thanks for helping raise awareness of DR and how people can take steps to recover from it. I really appreciate how you sharing my splinting info over at Fit2B, and I’ll be scheduling it for a share over on our facebook fan page. God bless!

  23. Hi! I’ve been wondering why I haven’t been able to lose that bump. this is my third baby. I will surely try this out and will learn more about it. Thank you so much. God bless!

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