Diastasis Recti 101 {Learn and Heal}

Over the last few weeks the subject of Diastasis Recti has come up a lot…actually more times than it ever has in the past…and I’m a twin mama {meaning I have a higher risk of Diastasis Recti} This got me thinking & researching and a post was born! If you’ve never heard of Diastasis Recti or aren’t sure exactly what it is, don’t worry, you are not alone.

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Could you have If you have Diastasis Recti?

Here are a few questions that may help:

  • Have you ever been pregnant?
  • Do you have a tummy pooch that won’t go away?
  • Has your innie belly button mysteriously became a outie?

If you answer yes to any of these questions you NEED to do a Diastasis Recti self check {see the how to self check below}

What’s Diastasis Recti?

Pronunciation: dye-uh-STAY-siss REK-tye
Also Known As: diastasis, abdominal separation
Diastasis-Recti-V3

Diastasis Recti is a serious condition that effects 1 in 3 mothers to some degree. Yet, very few of us even know what it is or how to Fix It! {Psst YES it can be done!]

“Also known as abdominal separation, diastasis recti is a condition where the right and left sides of the rectus abdominus (the muscle that makes up the front wall of the abdominals, also known as the “six-pack” muscle) spread apart at the body’s midline. Diastasis negatively affects the strength of the abdominal wall and can aggravate lower back pain.

Abdominal separation occurs most often in response to the force of the uterus pushing against the abdominal wall during pregnancy, but can also happen when there is an extreme over-abundance of sub-muscular (visceral) abdominal fat. In pregnancy, hormones are also partially to blame, as they can soften connective tissue, allowing the separation to occur more easily.” 

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Here I am…32 week pregnant with my twins!

Risks of developing diastasis are greater in women who:

  • Are over the age of 35
  • Have had a high birth weight baby
  • Have had twins, Triples and beyond
  • Have had Multiple Pregnancies
  • Are very Petite
  • Have had Abdominal Separation with a previous pregnancies
  • Have poor abdominal muscle tone
  • Have done excessive abdominal exercises after the first trimester of pregnancy

So why does it matter?

When you abdominal muscles separate, your core’s support is weakened resulting in the tummy pooch that you can’t seem to get rid of {ummm…this could actually be your organs protruding! SCARY} The organs protrude because the muscles are sperated instead of being pulled together! Even scarier if there is ever any trauma this could result in hernia can develop. A diastasis recti may appear as a ridge running down the midline of the abdomen It becomes more prominent with straining and may disappear when the abdominal muscles are relaxed. In extreme cases, diastasis recti is corrected with a surgical procedure known as an abdominoplasty. This creates a tighter abdominal wall.

Diastasis Recti Self Check:

The goal of this self check it to determine how many fingers will fit in the space between the two recti muscles {you can use the Diastasis Recti image above as a guide}

  • Step 1: Lay on your back, knees bent at 90° with feet flat {basically the sit up/crunch position}
  • Step 2: Slightly lift head, placing chin on chest and tighten abdomainal muscles {you may need to relax and tighten to feel the muscles better} Using two finger feel for two ridges down the middle of you stomach {start from the top of your abdomen working your way to your pelvis.
  • Step 3: If you feel separation it is now important to determine the degree of separation. This can be done by  determining the number of fingertips that can fit within the space between the muscles {from left to right}  Separation consisting of a width of 2 fingertips or more is the determining factor for diagnosing diastasis recti.

Do you feel a gap? Is it wider than 2 or 3 fingers? It’s OK, DO NOT FREAK because it is NEVER too late to close Diastasis Recti!

What you NEED to know about  Diastasis Recti?

First, closing Diastasis Recti is all about healing the connective tissue. This healing process and how long it will take in depended on the severity of your diastasis and how committed you are to the healing program {workout}.

Second, if your Diastasis Recti is moderate {2-3 finger gap} or severe {5 finger or more gap} crunches and planks are the WORST THING that you can do.  Why? because these workouts/movements actually pull the muscles apart and will only make your condition worse.

Third, it is SO IMPORTANT to do the self check! You may not have Diastasis Recti even if you are in the “High Risk” category {listed above} At the same time you may have Diastasis Recti even if you have zero connection to the “High Risk” list.

Great Easy to follow Diastasis Recti Workout:

These exercises have been shown to reduce the distasis recti separation!

crunchFREEabs

Taken from Julie Tupler, RN the author of “Lose Your Mummy Tummy” this is a book I highly recommend for anyone struggling with a weakened core caused by diastasis.

  • Core contraction – In a seated position, place both hands on abdominal muscles.Take small controlled breaths. Slowly contract the abdominal muscles, pulling them straight back towards the spine. Hold the contraction for 30 seconds, while maintaining the controlled breathing. Complete 10 repetitions.
  • Seated squeeze – Again in a seated position, place one hand above the belly button, and the other below the belly button. With controlled breaths, with a mid-way starting point, pull the abdominals back toward the spine, hold for 2 seconds and return to the mid-way point. Complete 100 repetitions.
  • Head lift – In a lying down position, knees bent at 90° angle, feet flat, slowly lift the head, chin toward your chest, (concentrate on isolation of the abdominals to prevent hip-flexors from being engaged), slowly contract abdominals toward floor, hold for two seconds, lower head to starting position for 2 seconds. Complete 10 repetitions.
  • Upright push-up – A standup pushup against the wall, with feet together arm’s-length away from wall, place hands flat against the wall, contract abdominal muscles toward spine, lean body towards wall, with elbows bent downward close to body, pull abdominal muscles in further, with controlled breathing. Release muscles as you push back to starting position. Complete 20 repetitions.
  • Squat against the wall – Also known as a seated squat, stand with back against the wall, feet out in front of body, slowly lower body to a seated position so knees are bent at a 90° angle, contracting abs toward spine as you raise body back to standing position. Optionally, this exercise can also be done using an exercise ball placed against the wall and your lower back. Complete 20 Repetitions.
  • Squat with squeeze – A variation to the “Squat against the wall” is to place a small resistance ball between the knees, and squeeze the ball as you lower your body to the seated position. Complete 20 repetitions.

*No Diastasis Recti will result in very minimal or no gapping of the muscles.

Finally:

If you have Diastasis Recti , I would HIGHLY recommend quitting ALL of the “traditional” abdominal exercises. I would also recommending getting a copy of Julie Tupler’s Lose your Mummy Tummy! Through Julie’s Tupler Technique® it could take you anywhere from six weeks to a year to close your diastasis.

Now GO and do a self check!

References and sources for this post include:

MuTuSystemLose Your Mummy Tummy aka Tupler Technique® , About.comWikipedia

*As always, please check with your medical professional before starting any exercise postpartum.

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One thought on “Diastasis Recti 101 {Learn and Heal}

  1. Pingback: 14 Days to Totally Toned {ABS} |

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