A couple of months ago, I wrote about how I found out I had diastasis recti (DR), since then I have received so many questions about this condition. So today, I’m answering the most frequently asked questions about diastasis recti and I’m also sharing what I learned so far in my journey to getting fit. Plus, I’m taking it one step further and sharing some FREE RESOURCES to help you to take those first steps towards correcting your DR!
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical doctor of any kind, nor am I a personal trainer. I’m simply sharing my journey with others in hopes of creating awareness of diastasis recti. Please consult with a professional before considering any advice from this post and before attempting any exercises mentioned to make sure they are suitable and safe for you.
FAQs about Diastasis Recti
What is Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis recti is when your rectus abdominis muscles in your abdomen separate (commonly caused by pregnancy), this separation leaves you with a gap that makes your stomach bulge out- hence, why some women may look pregnant after giving birth. A 2.5 finger gap is normal, however when there is a gap more than this, then you should start to take steps to correct the diastasis recti, as this can have a negative impact on your core and even cause back pain.
Is it ever too late to correct diastasis recti?
The answer is no! It is never too late to start correcting diastasis recti. Some women don’t even know they have this condition until decades later, but they still do the exercises and have seen results. So, don’t get discouraged and think that it’s too late!
What exercises can I do to decrease the gap?
There are certain exercises you can do to improve diastasis recti; my physical therapist showed me the most common ones to start with, which were head curls, knee lifts, and a couple of exercises using a resistance band. I will also link to a few videos and a free beginners program down below that will go over these exercises in depth for you.
The most important advice I can give you is make sure you are doing these exercises correctly, i.e that your form is right, your core is engaged when it needs to be, and that you are breathing correctly throughout these exercises, otherwise these exercises will not be as effective.
What kind of exercise should I avoid so the gap doesn’t get bigger?
My physical therapist and postnatal fitness instructors all advised me against doing any crunches/sit ups, as this makes diastasis recti worse!
Can any personal trainer help me with my DR?
Not all personal trainers are qualified to teach postpartum fitness, you have to take additional courses to specialize in this area. I went to a mommy and baby exercise class last year, that was meant to be a fitness class for mothers, and the personal trainer leading the class did not mention diastasis recti at all and instructed the class to do exercises that were not safe for individuals with this condition- yikes!
However, recently I attended two different postnatal fitness classes led by qualified fitness trainers who had training in postnatal fitness and they not only talked about diastasis recti, but they checked each woman in the class to see if she had this condition. One of the instructors even handed out a pamphlet about DR with diagrams- which was amazing! Please be careful with who you choose as a fitness trainer and make sure you ask if they are trained and certified to teach postnatal fitness.
FREE RESOURCES to help you with your Diastasis Recti
Below, you will find links to free resources from qualified professionals to help you on your journey with correcting your diastasis recti:
(Note, although these resources are from qualified professionals, it is still best to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program)
How to do a proper head curl; this was the first exercise I learned from my physical therapist: Correct form for a head curl when you have Diastasis Recti
Next, I learned how to do knee lifts: Common mistakes with deadbugs (knee lifts)
My physical therapist suggested I do these two exercises, using a resistance band, to strengthen my core: 2 Resistance Band Exercises for Core Abdominal
These were some of the exercises I learned in my postnatal Pilates class: How to Lose Belly Fat After Pregnancy | 5 Effective Exercises
This is a great video that gives you a 30 minute workout that is safe for anyone that has diastasis recti: 30-min Crunchless Abs (safe for diastasis recti!)
Exercises to AVOID and modifications for these exercises: Unsafe Core Abdominal Exercises for Women
This is a great blog post that goes over how to pick up your child safely when you have diastasis recti: Picking up you child or objects off the floor safely
Did you know there is a preferable way to sleep when you have diastasis recti? You can read more about this here: Best sleeping position for someone with diastasis recti
A few of the links above are from Katrina Oakley, she is a certified postpartum corrective exercise specialist and posture specialist. I highly recommend Katrina’s FREE beginners program, it goes over everything from how to breathe, and what exercises to do (there are step by step videos of each exercise), and there is even a meal plan you can follow. I joined the beginners program myself and found it very helpful! To join Katrina’s beginners program, click here.
Katrina also has a Facebook support group that is free to join! I love the community in this group and have found so much support through other women who are also working towards correcting their diastasis recti! You can join the Facebook group by clicking here.
One last piece of advice is that I highly suggest you see a physical therapist if you think you may have diastasis recti. If you are from Alberta, then you may qualify to get three free sessions with a physical therapist for diastasis recti at certain physiotherapy clinics.
I hope this post is helpful and answers all of your questions. You can follow my fitness journey to better health on Instagram, my username is @Sumaira.Z, I post Fitness Friday tips every Friday on my instastories- I hope to connect with you there!
Please note, this blog post is NOT sponsored and all opinions expressed are purely my own.