Thankfully the word is getting out there and more people are becoming aware of diastasis recti and what they can do. However I find that there is still a grey area when it comes to what not to do. A diastsis is when the two halves of the outer most abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis) becomes separated leaving you with a compromised core. The main function of the rectus abdominis is flexion and extension of your spine. Second to that, it acts like a wall to support your organs from your ribs to your hips. If the two sides of the rectus are separated, what sort of support system do you have? It also makes sense that you would be suffering back pain as well, doesn’t it?
Diastasis recti is caused by any continuous forward force-full pressure on the rectus abdominis such as pregnancy, a beer belly and doing abdominal exercises incorrectly. Any movement that strains your abdominals forward, should be avoided. For example, crunches, pilates 100’s, and bicycles (they are a double wammy) cause pressure on your recti and can create a diastasis ir make an existing one worse.. And if your separation is significant i.e. 3 fingers or more in diameter with weak connective tissue, planks are a no-no as well. Think about it; if your abs are separated and you go on all fours, what’s happening?
But don’t fret, taking away these exercises does not mean you will never have strong abs again; you just have to modify them. With a diastasis, it is imperative to work your transverse abdominals every which way you can. All your abdominal muscles are connected so the motion of one, affects the other. And because these are a vital part of your “core” they are constantly working to help you breathe, laugh, sneeze and even take a bowel movement. The transverse is part of your secret weapon in helping close your separation without stressing the rectus abdominis apart.
Changing your ab workout to isometric exercises in a seated, standing and side lying position is your first step in closing the gap and getting your abs back for good.
Samantha Montpetit-Huynh is a mom of two beautiful girls and the owner and founder of Core Expectations, a Toronto-based full service wellness team that delivers personal training, abdominal rehabilitation, nutrition, massage, chiropractic and doula services to pregnant women and new moms across the GTA.
Mom of two beautiful girls and the owner and founder of Core Expectations, Toronto’s only full service wellness team that delivers personal training, abdominal rehabilitation, nutrition, massage, chiropractic and doula services to pregnant women and new moms across the GTA.