Have you ever wondered no matter how clean you eat, the lower portion of your stomach still sticks out?
For those of you that don’t know what diastasis recti is, it’s a separation down the center of your abdominal muscles, mainly due to pregnancy. The more pregnancies a woman has, the greater risk of having a separation. I know for myself, I didn’t notice having one until after my third baby. It really freaked me out at first, because I didn’t know what was wrong with me when I discovered it! This made me wonder how many other women just assume its something that you can’t help heal, or know what exercises they could be doing. This led me to putting together the complete list of diastasis recti exercises for you.
How do I know if I have a diastasis?
To check if you have a diastasis, first lay on your back with knees bent. Raise your head…. as if you are about to do a sit up and look down at your feet while taking one of your hands and press with your fingertips on and near your belly button. If you feel a space up and down near that, most likely you have a diastasis. There are different severities of a diastasis, and Dr’s typically measure by how many finger tips you can fit in between that open space. After my third baby, I had about a three finger width gap in my muscles. This being pretty upsetting for someone whose best physical attribute used to be my abs…..heavy sigh…! Once I began doing ab exercises designed to help the diastasis, I have been able to get my stomach back in shape and to a one finger gap.
Correct vs. Wrong Exercises
In speaking with my Dr, the only true fix to bring it completely back together would be surgery. Some people might actually have a hernia on top of the diastasis that can be fixed through the belly button, however some might need to have a tummy-tuck. I needed neither of those, so I realized the only way to help mine would be through the correct exercises. I stress CORRECT, because there are a lot of ab exercises that can make your diastasis worse, or even cause your waistline to disappear! “and lawwwdddd there’s not a soul on earth that wants that to happen”! Thus, again is why I am hoping to help women out with posting this list of diastasis recti exercises. I want to help you get in a bikini to show off your abs, and not just hide them in a one piece swimsuit!
In terms of tightening the separation, think of the phrase “pulling in”. You want exercises that force you to pull in, not pull down or a part. After two of my c-sections, the hospital gave me a binder to wear for the first 4-6 weeks after delivery. It basically looked like one of those old-time waist cinchers, only with velcro and not the long shoe string. This binder was a complete life saver for me. It just helped hold me in and feel secure for the several weeks following delivery. It helped to squeeze my stomach muscles closer together. The binder ideally, would help train those muscles to go back in place, or close to it, anyways! If your hospital doesn’t provide you with one, you can find many online here. There are several brands out there known as postpartum wrap or belly band, that you can buy.
Patience is a Virtue
Try and keep in mind that you can’t be in a rush to heal your abs. It took 9 months to grow a baby inside your belly, and it will take every bit of that to heal your muscles. In fact, I don’t think you ever really quit healing your abs after babies. It takes constant training, I feel. I have done a lot of research on healing a diastasis, and in my video are the most effective moves that every woman with one, should do. Definitely don’t try doing these exercises too soon. Make sure to get your Dr’s approval before beginning.
There is a hormone called Relaxin, that women naturally produce during pregnancy. It helps your ligaments become stretchy and elastic. This affects every joint in your body and can stay in your system up to 5 months after delivery. I’ll never forget after my 2nd pregnancy, I thought 8 weeks after delivery was enough time to start back to running. I was wrong…..it created the most debilitating pain in one of my knee joints, that caused me to barely be able to walk, and landed me in the orthopedist’s office! Luckily with ice and rest, it eventually went away. So, please get your doctor’s release for exercising and when you do get it, start slow!
The Complete List of Diastasis Recti Exercises
- Dumbell Side Bend(go slow, you dont want to pull on your back, but simply your obliques)
- Wall Sit(keep your stomach tightened)
- Side Plank(try and keep abs tight and dont forget to breathe)
- Weighted Glute Bridge
- Spinal Balance
- Windshield Wipe
- Lying Vaccums(take a deep breath and blow it all out, tighten your abs and then pull inward with them)
- Heel Slides
- Toe Touches
- Towel Crunches(pull inward with each rep)
- Cat/Cow Pose(really try and tighten the abs when you arch inward)
- Standing Crossover Knee Raise
- Lying hip raises(this also focuses on the lower abdominals, think of pressing your feet to the sky)
- Standing Vaccums(same steps as lying vaccums)