Diastasis Recti, commonly referred to as Ab Separation, is a prevalent condition particularly experienced by pregnant and postpartum individuals. It is characterized by the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles, the ‘six-pack’ muscles, due to extensive stretching during pregnancy. This condition often manifests as an outward bulge or ‘pooch’ in the belly that persists months or even years postpartum.
While this condition is common, it’s important to be aware of its signs, as early identification can facilitate more effective recovery. This article provides a comprehensive guide on effective ways to identify and rectify Diastasis Recti, employing specific exercises that can help close the separation and restore abdominal integrity.
5 ways to identify Diastasis Recti:
Pooch or bulge in your stomach:
The most common and visible sign of Diastasis Recti is an outward bulge or ‘pooch’ in the stomach area. This occurs due to the weakened, stretched abdominal muscles that are unable to support the core. Moreover, many individuals also experience decreased abdominal strength when they try to perform exercises such as sit-ups or crunches.
Lower back pain:
Since the rectus abdominis muscles are connected to your pelvis, a separation can lead to instability in the lower back region and cause pain. If you experience persistent lower back pain, especially after physical exercise or when lifting objects, it is important to get checked for Diastasis Recti.
Another symptom of Diastasis Recti is poor posture. When abdominal muscles are unable to hold your spine properly, it results in a hunched or slumped position. If you experience persistent postural issues that do not improve with regular stretching or exercise, it could be an indication of Diastasis Recti. Moreover, poor posture can also lead to other pain-related issues such as shoulder, neck and headaches.
Many people with Diastasis Recti experience chronic constipation. There can be several causes for this, but unstable abdominal muscles can contribute to the issue. When your rectus abdominis is not strong enough to cope with the pressure of regular bowel movements, it can lead to constipation.
Diastasis Recti can also cause bloating, which is often experienced by individuals with the condition. Bloating happens when the overall digestion process is slow and the digestive system is unable to process food properly. This can lead to abdominal discomfort, which is a common symptom of Diastasis Recti.
Ways to Fix Diastasis Recti (Ab Separation)
One of the first steps in healing diastasis recti is retraining your breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing helps engage the deep core muscles and supports proper alignment. Lie on your back with your knees bent, place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to rise, and exhale slowly through your mouth, drawing your navel towards your spine.
Engage Transverse Abdominis:
The transverse abdominis is a deep abdominal muscle that acts as a corset for your core. To engage it, lie on your back with your knees bent. Place your fingers just inside your hip bones and imagine pulling them together. Hold for a few seconds and release for quick relief.
Pelvic Floor Exercises:
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can help support the core and aid in the healing of diastasis recti. Kegel exercises are an effective and result-driven way to target these muscles. To perform it, squeeze the muscles you would use to stop the flow of urine and hold for a few seconds, then release.
Avoid Straining Movements:
Certain movements can exacerbate diastasis recti or hinder the healing process. Avoid exercises like full sit-ups, planks, crunches, and heavy lifting, as they can place excessive strain on the abdominal muscles. Instead, focus on gentle, controlled movements that engage the core without causing further separation.
Poor posture can contribute to the development and worsening of diastasis recti. Practice good posture by aligning your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles in a straight line. Avoid slouching or arching your back excessively and engage the core muscles to support your spine and maintain the right alignment.
Progressive Core Strengthening:
Gradually reintroduce core-strengthening exercises into your routine once you have built a foundation of stability. Start with gentle exercises like pelvic tilts and bird dogs. As your core strength improves, you can move onto more challenging exercises under the guidance of a qualified professional.
If you’re struggling to heal diastasis recti on your own, consider working with a physical therapist who specializes in postpartum care or abdominal rehabilitation. They can provide personalized exercises and hands-on techniques to help restore the alignment and function of your abdominal muscles.
To summarize, diastasis recti is a condition that can be effectively managed with the right approach. Start by avoiding strenuous abdominal exercises and focusing on posture correction. Then, gradually reintroduce core-strengthening exercises to build strength without causing further separation. Finally, consider working with a physical therapist for personalized guidance and support.