I am so excited to share my top tips for closing a diastasis recti (DR) because so many people come to me having given up exercising for fear of making their gap worse even when exercise was a huge part of the life prior to developing a DR.
So here are my top tips to ensure you are getting the most out of your diastasis recti exercises, whether following a rehab program or working 1-2-1 with a diastasis recti specialist.
1. Address breathing habits that create a pushing out into the diastasis recti. There is a lot of confusion around belly breathing being the optimal way to breathe but there is a vast difference between the belly moving as part of an organic 3 dimensional expansion of the entire torso and the ribs being locked down while forcefully pushing the abdominals forward. The latter isn’t ideal when performing your diastasis recti exercises.
Try this instead. Place your hands around your lower ribs and feel the small expansion side to side, front to back and up and down.
2. Address core engagement patterns that over rely on the superficial muscles without using the deep core musculature.
We absolutely want to build up to working the six pack and obliques but in a way that also connects to the deeper underlying transversus abdominus when we are dealing with a diastasis recti.
Try this to help you connect with your deep core, sit upright in a chair and slowly exhale as though you are blowing out a candle. You should feel a corseting and drawing in of the area below your belly button. This is the breath that will pre-empt any core focused work. If when you are performing your diastasis recti exercises you are feeling your abdominals bulge, push out, brace hard like you are about to be punched or it feels like a bearing down into the pelvic floor you aren’t optimising healing. Working with someone one to one can really help you to build this connection.
3. Address postural habits that creates a push out into the diastasis recti such as an anterior pelvic tilt and rib thrust. Think a dancers or gymnasts posture. I don’t bash particular ways of standing and moving but in the context of when we are doing specific diastasis recti exercises, bringing the pelvis into neutral and having the ribs stacked on top of the pelvis is going to make it 100% easier for you to connect to you deep core which for many people can take some practice.
4. Actually do the exercises……. consistently and loading progressively. This is what will ultimately help the gap to close.
It’s also incredibly important that we don’t pigeon hole ourselves into the rehab box. Don’t just stick to reverse marching forever. We need to train the core in all dimensions to mimic daily life. Twists and side bends are absolutely on the table once you are sure you aren’t bulging, bracing, bearing down or forcefully pushing the belly out with every breath. So when choosing a personal trainer, rehab course or class ensure that they will help you to continually progress.
5. Having body work on the edges of the diastasis recti. If you aren’t comfortable doing this yourself a myofascial release therapist can work on this area for you.
So those are my top tips :
Breathing, core engagement strategy, alignment/posture particularly when working out, doing diastasis recti exercises that progressively load the core more and more and don’t forget you also have the option of body work in the form of myofascial release.
If you found this useful please do share so that we can help more people with a diastasis recti to feel confident in working out and getting stronger.
If you need extra help with feeling your deep core or are struggling to overcome the bulging, bracing or bearing down when doing your diastasis recti exercises, a 1-2-1 assessment either in person or online can really help.
If you are looking for a diastasis recti specialist in Oxfordshire, I also run small core exercise classes focused on diastasis recti rehab and offer myofascial release therapy.
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