Updated: Aug 26, 2021
What is diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti is the partial or complete separation of the rectus abdominis muscle. This condition is necessary during pregnancy. This is because the uterus stretches the muscles in the abdomen to accommodate your growing baby.
However, this condition isn’t limited to pregnancy. It can affect anyone, including newborn babies and men. In some cases, it can result from lifting heavy weights incorrectly or performing excessive or unsafe abdominal exercises (i.e. sit ups, planks).
Overall, diastasis can weaken your core and lead to back pain and/or pelvic pain.
BUT, we are here to tell you the good news...
There are ways to improve and heal your diastasis through quality movement.
So, let's dive in to 3 simple, yet effective activities you can incorporate today...
We often hear about performing belly breaths, and often think it is synonymous to a diaphragmatic breath. And although they may be similar, we are missing a key component if we only perform a breath into our belly.
The diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle under our rib cage that needs to expand all the way around your abdominal wall. Therefore, we need to bring breath not only into your belly, but into your sides and back.
Our muscles and bones adapt to the changes and stress that we place upon them. But, if we only perform deep breaths into our belly, we create too much tension on our rectus abdominis to heal properly. So when we focus on breathing into our entire abdominal wall (sides and back, too), we can create enough tension on our rectus to remain strong, but also give it the support it needs to heal our diastasis.
Watch this video and give it a try.
Functional core activation
We move across the midline of our abdominals in everyday tasks, such as reaching into the cupboard or down to empty the dishwasher.
So, why not focus on exercises that encourage moving across your midline vs. performing endless amounts of crunches and front planks for core activation?
Before we offer exercises, let's go over an important detail...
When checking for diastasis, we primarily look for two things: finger width and depth.
Diastasis width is how many cm, or fingers, across we feel a separation, and depth is how deep we can press into the tissue before we start to feel tension.
In women that have not given birth, 1 cm (or one finger) separation at the level of the belly button and 0.5 cm above and below, is normal. Therefore, we also need to look at and check the depth of our separation.
So, what can you do?
Midline abdominal exercises help to (re)connect and reinforce our frontal fascial healing, which in return, can start to improve and heal our diastasis.
Check out the Functional Progression from our colleague, Dr. Erica Boland at Coulee Health.
Posture is important for more ways than we can count. Often when we think of poor posture, we picture forward head posture, especially as we are constantly looking on our devices.
However, muscles we tend to forget that can make a big impact on how we maintain proper posture include our mid back, abdominals, gluts and you guessed it...your pelvic floor!
It's not just lifting your chest up, but bringing your head (the bowling ball) back and in alignment with your spine (the post). It's not just lengthening your torso, but stacking your rib cage over your hips to stabilize and support your abdominal wall.
It's focusing on turning on and activating those small muscles (i.e. mid trap/rhomboids and transversus abdominis) that wrap around and create our abdominal wall to help support and stabilize our spine. Keeping these muscles strong (or even just properly activated) can offer support for our midline and improve diastasis healing.
Unsure if you are breathing properly? Do you want someone to assess your diastasis and posture?
We are here to address your needs and can give you an individualized program.
Click here to book an appointment with us today.
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