I realized I had diastasis recti at about 5 weeks postpartum. You can read about my story at my 10 weeks post partum update.
*UPDATE on healing my diastasis
See all of my diastasis tips here
Being a personal trainer and have clients that have or had diastasis recti (DR) I knew some about it. I generally knew the key issues with it but did not understand it fully until now. To be honest, I never thought I would get it. If you are sitting here and never heard of it, that’s okay. You’re not alone. It is not often talked about.
Hopefully more and more ladies will discuss it to help spread the word because the great thing is – it’s fixable!
It’s kinda sad that very few of us even know what it is, and MOST IMPORTANTLY — How to GET RID OF IT! That is where I hope to help.
You first need to test yourself to make sure you have diastasis recti (DR).
How to check for diastasis recti
Lie down on the floor with your knees bent. Place one hand behind your head for support. Next, take the index and middle fingers of your other hand and place them just above your belly button, pointing them downward. Slowly raise your head off the floor and feel for a separation of a finger-width or more. You want to press your fingers into the separation between your muscles. Feel above belly button and below belly button as well.
If you are having a hard time knowing if you have a gap or not, you can feel someone else’s abs that hasn’t been pregnant to feel for that muscle in your midline to give you a comparison. If you feel a gap when you check, it will need to heal before you begin any traditional abdominal exercises or you will do more harm than good.
Keep in mind depending on the size of your gap will depend on how long it will take to heal. That can be the hard part because we each have different size fingers. So, my 3 finger gap might be a 2 or 4 finger gap for someone else with either smaller or larger fingers than me. It’s confusing. My advice: don’t stress too much about the size gap, focus on how your core feels and keep mental note of your gap.
It’s important to make sure you have good activation of your transverse abdominus and pelvic floor muscles! Also, you need to focus on building good glute strength to help with healing your DR.
It can be really hard to find safe exercises that you need to do to help heal your ‘Mummy Tummy’ AKA diastasis rectus. I hope these exercises help as you start your journey to heal your DR.
You don’t want to be doing exercises that pull the muscles apart.
You need to focus on pulling the muscles closer together.
Focus on pulling in your belly button towards your spine. Some people say think of it as a zipper. I do think wearing an abdominal splint can help aid in your healing process for those that are interested. I wear Belly Bandit mother tucker leggings 90% of the time and love them.
Let’s heal DR together!
Click here to watch on youtube.
*Disclaimer: make sure to consult with your doctor before trying a new workout routine. If you feel any pain or discomfort while exercising, stop.
3 exercises to help heal diastasis recti (ab separation or mummy tummy)
3-exercises-to-heal-diastasis-recti-purelytwins (Click to download your pdf)
1) Standing back flys with resistance band – I got my resistance band from Spri their flat band-single but you can get them just about anywhere.
2) Leg slides
3) Side planks – if this is too advance at the start, do other exercises until you feel stronger and can do supported side plank to start.
FOR MOMS THAT ARE PREGNANT – instead of the leg slides – sit on a stability ball or chair. Slowly lift one leg up at a time.
Other moves that are great to start when you’re at the beginning to help promote your gap to close.
Core contraction – Can do standing or seated. Place hands on your abdomen, inhale to fill tummy, exhale to contract abs – belly button towards spine. Do 10 breaths like this.
Single leg raises – Start by lying down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Keep the normal inward curve in your lower back. As you raise your bent right knee off the ground exhale and engage your transverse abdominus. Lower back down and inhale. Repeat 10 reps on each leg.
Push-ups on the wall – Place your hands shoulder-width apart on wall, feet slightly apart, abs engaged, back and legs straight. Inhale as you bend your elbows and lean your body toward the wall, maintaining a long, straight line from head to toe. Push your body back with your hands until you are once again in a standing position. Repeat for 10-12 reps.
Seated squeeze – 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.
Squats – One of the best basic human movements. Start with feet out in front of body, hip distance apart, 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.
I hope these exercises help you to start focusing on healing your DR from the inside.
I will be sharing more safe postpartum workouts and more DR tips soon!!!
Do you have any specific questions for me?
What are you struggling with most in terms of healing your ab separation?
If you liked and enjoyed this workout video, it would mean so much to us if you shared it! Thank you!
I would love to know how I can get real time workouts for healing my DR. I’ve been looking all over your site and can’t find them…I only see the short versions on you tube…I always did H.I.I.T workouts but was recently told I have a hernia due to DR. I hadn’t heard of DR before, yet now it explains so much…please help if you can i feel bad that I’m having to take it easy and never know what I can and can’t do in terms of working out. I really want to heal, so I’m weary of all my old workouts now because my tummy looks bad and it’s due to all the further damage I’ve done I think.
Miriam the real time workouts are found inside our purely fit life club. It’s a paid membership. If you are interested you can find out more here – http://bit.ly/purelyfitlifeclub
I feel the same as Miriam. I am trying so hard to get back to being the best version of me that I can. And mostly, for my daughter. I want her to see a womens body does not have to be ‘detroyed’ after child birth, I want to be empowered so I can empower her.
I too have searched the internet for DR exercises, I have to say ladies, the fact that you would rather make a buck than help fellow women with such and important womens health concerns shows me the true colour of your beauty. Shame on you both.
Shannon I share a lot of diastasis friendly FREE workouts here on the blog and yes I have a program that shares even more. I am sorry that you feel by me having my own business to support me and my family is a bad thing, as I share a lot of FREE information and workouts that are postpartum friendly.
If you read carefully, then you will realize that Miriam is asking for “real” time workouts. It sounds like you are just looking for workouts. Hence your complaint is unfounded and your disrespect for these ladies who work so hard to provide you with free workouts shows the “beauty” of your true colours. SHAME on YOU.
Thank you so much for the support and understanding all the work we do for free as both Michelle and I only want to help and inspire others.
This is such an unfair comment! Nobody should be expected to work for free. I do design and social media management, and let me just say, content creation takes a lot of time and energy. It’s a labor of love. The fact they are offering so much free content is pretty remarkable! I think the best thing you can do to empower women is to be grateful for what they offer and not shame them. We need more women holding each other up, not tearing each other down.
Thank you so much Beth for your kind supportive words xoxo
Hello Ladies! Thank you for all your great free information. I have been following your blog for a few years and recently discovered you again when looking for information about DR. At 6 weeks PP, I was cleared by both my doctor and a pilates instructor that I could resume normal exercise activity, both saying that while I had a small separation, it was normal and nothing to worry about, planks and sit ups were fine they said. I began slowly with yoga, then added gentle weight training using dumbells, kettlebells and ankle weights, cardio through rebounding and dancing (ballet and dance cardio). I have lost the baby weight and my body has responded to the 4-5x a week exercise. However, I am 19 months Post Partum and my belly seems completely unresponsive, also, my pelvic floor is not as strong as it should be because any bouncing causes me to pee. I checked myself again for the first time since I was about 2 months PP and I have DR. The pouch seems to have actually gotten worse with the increased activity while the rest of my body has gotten in better shape. The DR is around my belly button on either side and about 1 inch above my belly button. I can tell the abdominal muscles are not completely stitched together a few inches about that as I can feel both sides touching but not completely healed together. I am considering purchasing your program Retrain Your Core. Can I jump on a mini trampoline leaving the tramp with 2 feet? Or should I alternate Left and Right feet never fully leaving the trampoline with both feet? Thank you!
If you are peeing in your pants and have a separation then I would limit your trampoline use until you get a strong pelvic floor. It is never too late to make your inner core muscles stronger. When you focus on engaging your deep inner core muscles more you will get stronger and be able to jump on trampoline again. If you still want to jump yes I would suggest alternating let and right feel without fully jumping. Let me know if there is anything else and I would love to coach you inside Retrain your Core 🙂
Hello, i had my twins 2 years and 4 months ago and am just now realising i might have abs separation. The gap is around 1 finger and a half. I have been doing all the wrong things until now, such as crunches 🙁 belly still protruding. Can i still heal from it? And is yoga ok? Thank you love the website!
Yes you can still heal it, just avoid those exercises and start doing more safe core work like the ones mentioned here. There are some moves in yoga that might be too much on the core until it is stronger. I would limit yoga while you heal.
Hello. This is a great article. Thanks for all the helpful tips. May I ask if you’re familiar with the ab slide machine? (different than the ab slider The two handled contraption with the wheel in the middle? Just curious if this is a helpful core workout or not? Thanks!
I’ve heard crunches may make it worse. I wasn’t sure if this may be considered along the same lines?
Lindsey I am not familiar with the ab slide machine, so I am not sure how helpful it really is.
At what point is my ab separation considered fixed? Should I have no gap at all when I lift my head up on my back? Or is it considered never fixed and k should always do these exercises and be careful of other moves?
Closing the gap is a hot topic as it depends on the person. Some people can close it and others don’t but that doesn’t mean that their core isn’t strong or “healed.” If you still have a small gap when you lift head up, but you don’t have any pain, no prolapse, no peeing in pants or anything else, than you are good. Plus you if you linea alba is strong and has good tension that is a great sign. I recommend doing these exercises a few times a week when you core is strong to continue to keep it strong and safe.
Thank you for this article. Are these 3 moves sufficient to heal completely a DR? I am struggeling especially with the depth of my gap due to weak linea alba..
Should I do them everyday or every 2 days? Is rest day important as for other muscles?
Thanks a lot in advance!!
There is more that needs to be done in order to heal DR, but these moves are a great start. Do them every day. No longer than 10 minutes. You want to go for quality not quantity.
Thank you so much for all your info! I’ve been looking for information for a long time, and this has been the most helpful! I have a weird question. I had a 4 finger gap and 6 weeks pp. I freaked out and did a few things I knew would help and now it’s at 2. Thing is, I never had the pooch and I don’t have any peeing issues (sooo thankful). So I would think that maybe it’s “healed” except my core feels so weak. I’m not sure what’s going on because I only have half the “symptoms.” I really want it to be stronger so I can do more exercises at the gym with my husband. I was considering asking for PT, but, do you think that would even be helpful if I’m not having other symptoms? Thanks! (I’m now over a year pp)
So I’m 13m pp with twins. I also have a 4 and 5 yo and had a c section with my oldest and the twins. All this left me with about a 2.5 finger gap. In between babies 1 and 2 I did a lot of p90x and other things that I now know did more harm. I don’t have any pain, unless like one of my babies sits on My belly (let’s be honest, that happens fairly often!), but not in just normal daily activities. I don’t wet My pants running or anything. I don’t have a super obvious pooch but I’m soft in my belly. but I’m scared to do any an toning exercise my Dr will get worse. My question is, at what point is it ok to do real about workouts again??
Totally understand. I have those same thoughts. I want to continue to firm up my belly but not hurt my DR. Make sure to check out this updated post of mine if you haven’t seen it http://purelytwins.com/2017/09/29/diastasis-qa-go-core-exercises-often-core-work-still-workouts-now/ . Now for core work to firm up my belly more is that I am starting to do more advanced moves like more planks and burpees and when I do those moves I make sure to do some safe DR friendly deep core work to make sure core is ok. And just take it slow. I don’t do these advanced moves every day but a few times a week, knowing overtime it will get firmer.
I read your blog which is really motivating.
I am almost 7 months postpartum and I have diastasis recto of 3 fingers above my naval which gives a huge mummy tummy like a ball. So my question is can I heal it at home with all these exercises you have mentioned? Also I need to reduce about 12 KGS so what should I do for weight loss in together with DR healing.
These exercises will definitely help but there’s more to healing DR than core work. Your alignment, ribs and breathing all play a part too. I have a program that will help you called Retrain Your Core — https://fullretrainyourcore.securechkout.com/ and also created a new one called Coffee and core -http://bit.ly/cc10videobundleaccess
Can these same exercises above for healing DR also be used for prevention of DR developing pre-pregnancy? Are there other exercises that can be added to the above 3 to help prevent DR?