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.†
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