Diastasis Recti. Those of us who’ve born children are all too familiar with the term - and what it means. It seems to be inevitable, and incurable except, perhaps, by surgery.
I was paranoid too, especially after hearing someone say that their abdominal separation caused them pain.
But did you know that you can close a diastasis of the rectus abdominus naturally? (I like using all those Latin words because it makes me sound smart )
I had a bit of separation with both my kids, but I’m super blessed to have a midwife with more knowledge than I’ll probably ever have, and thanks to her advice, I’ve closed that separation both times. Basically, it’s been a non issue.
How to check for diastasis recti: Lie on your back and crunch up slightly, bringing your head up off the floor.
Poke with your fingers along the midline of your stomach. It’s easiest to feel between your naval and rib cage.
The gap between muscles should be closer than a centimeter (one finger width).
Though I’m no expert, and my own diastasis recti was fairly small, I want to pass on the method I’ve learned to correct it, because it can do nothing but help.
These exercises can help even if you don’t have diastasis recti. And by “help” I mean that they activate and strengthen the transverse abdominus.
So if you have a tummy pooch, and don’t know why, if you have “mommy tummy”, this may be the answer to your problem.
Here it is: lie on the floor and breathe.
Okay, so it’s slightly more involved than that, but not by much.
Here ya go: (I apologize in advance for the crummy selfie photos. Just keepin’ it real).
Lie on your back, knees up, feet flat on the floor. As you breathe deeply, notice how your low back hollows out as your abdomen expands.
Take a deep breath…
Now, expel the breath, pulling your navel into your backbone.
It may take some practice to figure out which muscles to activate to effectively “suck in” your belly button, but keep practicing, you’ll get it! Hold for a few seconds.
Relax, and repeat.
One good way to know your doing it correctly is to place a towel under your low back. When your activating the transverse abdominus by pulling the navel inward, you should t be able to pull the towel out.
During the first couple months post partum, according to my midwife, you should do 10-15 repetitions of this exercise, 2-3 times a day. These days, I try to incorporate them into my post-workout stretching.
The science behind this exercise is that you are strengthening (often referred to as “toning”) the transverse abdominal muscles, which are basically the girdle that holds everything together.
You can do crunches and sit-ups all day long, but that primarily hits the abdominus rectus, and if anything, makes the problem worse. In order to close the gap in your ab muscles, and pull things back together as it were, you need to work the transverse abdominus, and that’s what this does.
There are many variations of this exercise, but this is the method I use the most.
It may seem, at first blush, that there’s no way a breathing exercise could have much affect, but believe me, when you’re doing this properly, you’ll feel the abdominal muscles working - and it’s more work than you think!