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I have had so many moms ask me for exercises to help with Diastasis Recti recovery postpartum recently that I wanted to dedicate a whole blog post to it. 

Having recently gone through pregnancy and labour myself I was surprised to discover just how little support there is for moms postpartum and even more surprised that it is not protocol at the 6 week check up for Doctors to check the Abdominals for any signs of a separation. 

Over the years I have had many clients come to me who have either self diagnosed themselves or who are confused as to why they look like they are still 6 months pregnant 2 years after having their child. This is a major area of neglect in women's health in my opinion and I hope in this post I can demystify Diastasis and give you some tools for your own practice if you have been diagnosed with having a separation of 1.5cm or more. 

So lets start at the beginning, what the hell is Diastasis Recti? 

Without weighing you down with too much science/anatomy Diastasis is the separation of the Rectus Abdominus (the ‘six pack’ muscle). The separation is caused by a stretching of the fascial attachments surrounding the Rectus sheath. It can occur during Pregnancy and presents is self as a cone like shape down the centre line of the Abdominals, or after delivery when it starts to look like a gap down the centre line of the Abdominal wall.  

One of the most common causes of Diastasis Recti is during the second stage of labour ‘the pushing stage’. If the mother is in a inclined position and in flexion of her torso the physicality of pushing/bearing down can exert pressure on the Recti muscles and cause a separation. However, as i mentioned before there are many other ways Diastasis can be caused for example incorrect body mechanics while exercising, imbalance of the Abdominal muscles and if your muscles are too tight and strong, to name a few. This is why it is essential during the latter stages of Pregnancy to focus on releasing rather than strengthening the Abdominal muscles and the Pelvic Floor.  

Now if you have been diagnosed with having a separation, do not panic! There are  effective ways to draw the Rectus Abdominus back together. Its never too late to start.

In my video I demonstrate a taster of the recovery type exercises I do with my clients once we have established they have Diastasis.

Before each recovery exercise we would perform the side lying rolling exercise, performed first in the video. I am  using a medium sized myo-fascial release ball which can be purchased here. The rolling technique is literally massaging the fascia back together and then we layer on breath work and gentle engagement exercises to train the muscles to fire when correctly aligned. Its important to note this is rehabilitative, recovery work rather than a ‘workout’. This recovery work takes time, and consistency is key but over time you will start to see an improvement. 

{ R O L L I N G }

Align | From a side lying position bring your knees slightly forward of your hips and stack your legs, your ankles should align with your hips and your hips should stack one on top of the other. 

Bring your supporting elbow underneath your shoulder and draw your ribcage away from the floor. The ball will be positioned in the space between your bottom rib and your hip bone. 

Move | Start by softening your waistline into the ball. Use your breath to create ease and release. Next slowly roll the ball towards your naval and slowly back to where you started. Repeat this x5 on each side. 

{ B R E A T H I N G   E X E R C I S E }

Align | Lie in a supine position on your back place your hands on your hip bones and soften your back body into the floor, let go of any abdominal engagement. 

Move | Take a deep cleansing breath in and then on the exhale draw your naval towards your spine and hug your hip bones towards one another - Repeat x8 

Next move your thumbs to the bottom of your ribs and stretch your fingers down so your pinky rests on your hip points. Take a deep cleansing breath in and on the exhalation hug your naval towards your spine and hug your ribs towards your hips while keeping your pelvis in neutral.

* Repeat Rolling Exercise *

{ P E L V I C   S T A B I L I T Y } 

Align | Stay in the supine position. Maintain the engagement of your naval hugging towards your spine and your ribs drawing down towards your hips. 

Move | Take a cleansing breath in and on the exhalation start to tip your pubic bone and hip bones towards the ceiling until your Hips lift off the floor. Don't go too high you should keep your ribs rooted on the ground. Inhale at the top and then exhale to roll back down. Repeat x8 

After completing x8 repetitions keep your spine grounded on the floor and float one foot at a time off the floor. This is a great exercise to stabilize the pelvis and to strengthen the pelvic floor. Your hip bones and pubic bone should stay in line at all times, resting your hands in a ‘V’ shape on your pelvis can help give you tactile feedback. Repeat x8 on each side. 

* Repeat Rolling Exercise * 

{ R O L L   D O W N S }

Align | Sit up right on your mat with your feet hip widths distance apart. Hold onto the back of your thighs. Start to roll back until your sacrum rests on the floor. Your spine should be in flexion throughout the exercise. 

Move | Take a deep cleansing breath in and on your exhalation roll back in two counts and up in 2 counts. You are rolling back as far as you can while still maintaining engagement and alignment. Repeat this first part x8. Next add a single leg lift on the roll back, stay holding on. Repeat x8 each side. The final set you continue to add the leg lift and on the back you pause at your lowest position, release your arms and rotate your torso towards your leg. Repeat x8 each side.

Attempt to perform these exercises at least x3 a week and always go back to the rolling between each exercise.

If you think you might have Diastasis, then I would love to work with you! I offer consultations and 1-1, 30 minute Diastasis Recovery sessions in San Francisco. Email peri@phmethod.com for more information.