From the medical point of view diastasis recti is a disorder accompanied by separation of rectus abdominis muscle into left and right halves. As a rule the condition happens in pregnant women and infants, but it is also common in those, who are really overweight.
For so you know, the health problem like this always leads to numerous problems. To treat it you should take care of the dynamic stabilization that also helps to avoid weakness, back pain, dysfunction of pelvic floor, compromising posture, vaginal delivery, cosmetic defects, etc. We know how to help you out. The question is whether you are ready to start?
Table of Contents
- What Diastasis Recti Exercises Should Be Avoided?
- Diastasis Recti Exercises for Women
- 8 Minute Diastasis Recti Core Workout For Ab Separation After Pregnancy
- Diastasis Recti Exercises for Men
- Preventing Diastis Recti As You Age
- Diastasis Recti Exercises – Physical Therapy Diastasis Repair Exercises
- Regaining Strength After an Illness or Surgical Procedure
What Diastasis Recti Exercises Should Be Avoided?
The vertical strip of the connective tissue is called linea alba. This is the point where the abdominal muscles get attached. In case of the problem this very line gets wider. Your movement and posture habits cause the overload of the tissue that leads to forward displacement of abdomen. If you start exercising, you can stop the development of the issue. However, only correct training can provide the needed results.
That is why before speaking about the best exercises we’ve decided to pay your attention to those routines that should better be avoided.
Try to avoid those activities that cause any sort of stress on the midline, or those that expand and stretch the abdominal wall through breathing techniques, exercises and everyday activities.
So, here are the movement types you should avoid:
- Exercises which cause the abdominal wall bulge out upon exertion.
- Exercises which require lying backwards over an exercise ball.
- Carrying and lifting very heavy objects.
- Exercises where the upper body twists and the arm extends away from it.
- Quadruped exercises without any abdominal support.
- Abdominal exercises which flex the upper spine against the force of gravity or off the floor.
- Yoga postures which stretch your abs.
- Pilates reformer or mat exercises which utilize upper body flexion and double leg extension.
Do not do sit-ups and crunches, as well as twists with crunches. Refuse from everything like can jack-knife your body.
In addition, avoid lifting anything straight up from horizontal lying positions.
Better roll it to your side and then push it up from here.
Pay special attention to various types of pelvic floor exercises, as they are able to strengthen your deep abdominal muscles. It happens because all core muscles contact as a cohesive group. You can perform this kind of routine either throughout pregnancy or during the early postpartum period.
Diastasis Recti Exercises for Women
It is a well-known fact that pregnancy changes the woman’s body. As the curves of upper and lower back increase, some groups of muscles become weakened, while others – too tight. If you have problems with rebuilding the body that looks and feels great, you should think of special exercises to correct the problem.
Before you start exercising, the problem will look like a ridge, running down the middle of the belly area. It stretches from the bottom and right to the belly, increasing with muscle straining.
So, what could you do?
- Towel-Assisted Crunches. They are easy. Wrap one long towel around your torso. Its ends should face the front, while you’re performing crunches. During exercises pull the ends towards each other, urging the muscles back together.
- Wall Sit With Ball Squeeze. Stand against the wall with your hips and back facing it. Take a Pilates ball between the knees. Then slowly sit down into a sitting position with your knees forming a 90° angle. Your abs should be drawn in the entire time. Squeeze the ball, keeping the abs drawn-in. Make 20 pulses and then return to a standing position.
- Single Leg Floor Touch. This is an exercise to fix diastasis recti. Lie on your back. Your knees bent, feet on the floor and back on the pillow. Lift your left leg up to meet the right leg. Your belly button should be pulled down into the spine, contracting abdominal muscles. Then slowly lower the leg until your foot touches the floor. Put the leg into the starting position and repeat the same procedure with the right one. Do 10 repetitions with each leg.
- Bridge. Lie down on your back and bend your knees. Your head, shoulders and feet should be flat on the floor. Lift the hips upward, creating a straight line from knees to shoulders. Squeeze the glutes and draw the abdominals. If the position is correct, the ankles are aligned below the knees. For this many people imagine they are holding a grapefruit-sized object between the knees. The task is not to drop it or squeeze it during 60 seconds. Perform the repetition 10 times. Rest between every repetition.Actual Info!
Diastasis recti can disappear over time. When it doesn’t, you will need surgery.
It is turned to when the woman is pregnant and the baby is trapped in space between muscles.
- Pulls-Ins. Keep the arch of the lower back and draw the navel toward your spine. This can be done lying down, sitting or standing. This should be done at least 20 times 2-3 times per day to begin with. Later on proceed to 50-100 repetitions twice a day.
- Leg Slides and One Leg Lifted. Lie down and lift your foot off the floor, the knee bent. Extend your leg out, keeping the toes several inches above the floor. Repeat the same 20 times in a neutral spine position with flat abdomen.
We suggest you not to expect fast results. First improvements will become visible in 6-8 weeks if you do everything right and regularly.
Do Exercises Work During or After Pregnancy?
In pregnancy abdominals become stretched in every woman, but far not each ends up with the diastasis recti problem. The normal question here is WHY? Aren’t women all the same?
As a rule, if a woman is small-framed and she is having a large baby, she usually faces great changes.
So, to the main factors that provoke the need for exercises to help belong:
- Lack of exercise,
- Having tow and more pregnancies too close together,
- Expecting multiples,
- Aged over 34.
In any case there are great chances to reduce all possible risks during pregnancy. What can be done?
- YOU CAN avoid gaining excessive weight while being pregnant. If you have a normal BMI, you will probably gain not more than 25 pounds.
- YOU CAN avoid those exercises that exacerbate the issue after the 1st trimester and after postpartum. To the list of such training belong crunch movements, sit-ups, plank-position exercises and oblique twists.
- YOU CAN check the alignment. This is the component in the pressure related body ailment. Checking is of top importance in case you regularly lift some heavy things and objects. This is when a tilted pelvis can push the uterus against the abdominal wall and create additional pressure.
- YOU CAN perform TVA (transverse abdominal) exercises in order to reduce all possible risks. This routine training is performed during pregnancy. According to the latest studied, there is a great difference in the condition between those, who are active in TVA engagement and those who are sedentary. This is an exercise to close a gap.
Avoid strong rotational training as well as side flexion.
To them belong side planks, side bends and V-sits.
If we speak about the after-pregnancy-period, then exercises should exclude curl-ups and crunches. Thought they promise fast recovery, they are the least effective. Forget about stretching exercises for this area. Why? Because your primer goal is to tighten and shorten the abdominals, and not to stretch them.
The same refers to those routines that cause the abs to protrude upwards. Avoid doming as it stops the gap from closing. And finally, exercising on all fours places extra strain on the area because of then downward pull on the tummy. However, a greater number of these exercises can also be well-adapted to a standing, seated, as well as back-lying position.
As you see, there are multiple options for those, who are pregnant and those, who are in the postpartum period. So any woman can choose the variant that works best in her individual case.
8 Minute Diastasis Recti Core Workout For Ab Separation After Pregnancy
Diastasis Recti Exercises for Men
Men have a rather unique pattern of rectus diastasis – a midline bulge that is located between the umbilicus and the sternum.
Oftentimes man experiences some pain in the area.
A mesh repair can be performed to soothe it, but it leaves scars. This is usually when males pay attention to exercises for abdominal recti repair.
- Start your training with learning of bracing the transverses abdominis. Put your hands on knees. Hands directly under the shoulders, knees directly under the hips. Your back should be straight and the abdominal muscles relaxed forward. Draw the abdominal muscles inwards towards the spine. Do it gently and slowly. Breathe deeply and normally. Remain in this position for 5 seconds. Repeat it 5 more times.
- Lie down with feet flat on the floor and legs bent. Breathe in and exhale slowly, straightening one leg and sliding it on the floor. Your lower abdominal muscles can help you to stabilize the straightened leg. Then extend the leg without serious pain. Do it as far as possible. Inhale and then return to the starting position. Repeat the same procedure with both legs.
- Focus on weight training. It will also assist in the body loss program and increase your metabolism rate. Start with a simple weights program that can be performed at home. These can be lunges, push ups as well as wall squats.
The problem can be corrected and treated without surgical intervention. This refers both to men and women. Choose several options and combine them, while training. However, the process is a lasting one. It requires time and patience. Don’t expect fast results if you are not regular in your training routine.
Preventing Diastis Recti As You Age
As you age, your body changes in many ways, including how it builds and repairs muscle tissue. Men and women who carry extra weight around the midsection can lose core strength causing diastasis recti to occur. We automatically go back to the common exercises we know to help regain our strength. When diastasis recti is present, this is the worse thing we can do. Instead, you need to know how to get ripped abs using exercises that are “tummy safe”. The wrong type of exercise can actually make the condition much worse and harder to correct.
Exercising Smarter Not Harder
Exercising smarter not harder is important. Educate yourself on the right type of diastasis recti exercises.
Make sure you know what will help correct the separation between the muscles instead of making it worse:
- Start slow and gradually increase your workouts so your strength builds naturally.
- Increasing reps not weight will help to tone and strengthen your abdominal core.
- Don’t push too hard for too long – it will cause more harm than good.
- Include water exercises to strengthen your core using your own body weight as resistance.
While these tips are simply common sense, many people forget them. Trying to fix the problem too quickly can actually make it much worse. When trying to correct diastasis recti or any other type of injury that affects the core muscles, less is usually better than more.
Aging Should Be Graceful, Not Painful
Aging should not be painful or uncomfortable. Aging gracefully involves doing the things you enjoy and exercise should be one of those things. Water exercises and yoga are two ways you can get back into shape without stressing already damaged muscles. Exercises like yoga and Pilates are very useful when it comes to restoring the core because they don’t add excessive amounts of stress. They can be performed at any time and almost anywhere. Muscle recovery supplements will also help.
Diastasis Recti Exercises – Physical Therapy Diastasis Repair Exercises
These gentle core abdominal exercises for Diastasis Recti repair are suitable after pregnancy plus learn the unsafe abdominal exercises to avoid worsening your Rectus Diastasis.
Regaining Strength After an Illness or Surgical Procedure
As you age, it takes your body longer to recover from an illness or surgical procedure. Tissues heal slower and it takes your muscles longer to regain their strength and resiliency. If diastasis recti is present, it can take longer for your body to correct the problem, especially if you are still working to lose excess weight. Rebuilding your strength slowly and maintaining it with regular exercise will help to correct the separation between the muscle groups. Click here to know more about treadmill workouts to lose weight.
As you age, you must be doubly cautious not to overly strain your body after an extended illness or injury.
Taking precautions will help your body get stronger and become more resilient without the risk of reinjuring the area or causing more damage:
- Stay hydrated,
- Don’t Overdo it,
- Follow your doctor’s orders,
- Report any pain to your doctor.
If at any time, you begin to feel discomfort or pain, stop what you’re doing and notify your doctor immediately.
Know Your Limitations
Know and respect your limitations. The older you are, the less likely you will be to bounce back as quickly as you did in the past. Once you know there is a problem, take the steps you need to safely and gradually regain your strength and your health. Maintaining steady pace will ensure that you don’t risk your health.
Diastasis recti can affect you at any age so you need to be taking precautions to prevent it from getting worse. With proper care and light exercise, you can gradually correct the issue and help to restore stability to your core.
You can find further details of Exercises here.
HI, is it possible to get my muscles to come back together, I have a large stomach 47″ it used to be 37″ none of my muscles have came back together after peritonitis operation. His possible to remedy this with exercises. I am male could I use the female exercises as well if it is possible to fix. Many Thanks Dilwyn Lammas
I myself have a large stomach (and I never had one or trouble with my weight). I am 57 years old. Had Diastasis Recti for about 12 years, didn’t know what it was until I consented my doctor about it. I just thought at the time I need to do more sit-ups. I found out that doing that was wrong, after the fact. I’m with Dilwyn Lammas, can a male use the female xercises as well? I know this is a slow healing process (Rome wasn’t built in a day), and I hope to get back to my normal self and feel better about myself. Thanks.
Merry Christmas + Happy New Year 2015!
What is the cause of Diastasis Recti in men?
After consulting a physiotherapists for months for my lower back pain, doing acupuncture, massages and TENS stimulator, I consulted an other one because the previous one just retired. It came out than I have Diastasis Recti… I’m a man, not really fat or have a big tummy. Probably came out with all the years serving in the army, doing different movements, twisting my back and using wrong set of muscles. My new physiotherapist gave me some exercises like the towel-assist crunches and the bridge with trying to pull down my belly button. Hope it will improve with time because I’m tired of having back pain continuously for the past 10 years. If you have more things (exercises) than I can do, please just let me know !
I came back from a camping trip and was very sick (guardian or something). I noticed my stomach bulge out and it scared the — out of me so I went to my GP because I thought it could be a ventral hernia or worse. I was given an ultrasound and it showed diastasis. It’s likely a number of events led up to this.
I was a Marine for 4 years, and then a river guide for 10 years. I always maxed out my PFTs and was one of the most fit guides on the river. Both of those jobs were physically demanding, and I worked out a lot during my off time also. Eventually, I got lazy and stopped exercising once I got my new job 12 years ago. My weight maxed out at 236 earlier this year. I started a hardcore exercise program and diet to get back to 200.
I lost enough weight to see my stomach pooch, the diastasis. It’s likely I had it for years and just didn’t know. Furthermore, I exaggerated the DR with my exercise regime. When I bent over to put on socks I’d often feel a pinch in my ribs if I wasn’t careful (early stages of diastasis in overweight men). Since I had it for years, my doc said I’ll eventually have to get a mesh surgery because a ventral hernia will become very likely once I become elderly if I still have an unresolved DR.
I’m still losing weight, but have changed my exercises. My exercises now focus on not allowing it to continue to separate. I still get some pain in the ribs and back, but the exercises will build up the ab and back muscles slowly so that the pain from the separation will eventually subside. There’s no silver bullet for this, but a dedicated regime will help me slowly heal.
I am having diastasis recti since my delivery (7 month back).
Can I do weight training in gym? What weight excercises can I do?
Can I do biceps, triceps?
Ok, I too find myself with Diastasis Recti bulge, At the age of 52. I have been in fantastic shape all of my life and finally decided to let it go a bit and relax my training. BAD idea. well actually as it turns out I had been doing crunches and sit-ups all wrong over the years. Although I had a six pack, as soon as I started gaining weight around the midline I experienced the “bulge” Frightening to say the least. But I aim to get back on track and into shape again. (Much harder now) I went from a solid 180- 185 lbs to a sloppy 200 lbs. I must say that having the extra weight has opened my eyes to the trials of being overweight.
Same boat as Hank Mike and Patrick a probably thousands of other males. Used to be super fit, triathlons, marathons, long ist swimming and laboring through my twenties for uni. I was cut. Sixteen year of relatively no exercise since has seen me with DR, an increasingly low mobility. I, too was diagnosed incorrectly or really just operated under the wrong assumptions and began doing incorrect remedial activities. There is little awareness out there so this is good to see where the trends are for non pregnancy causing DR [read males]. Lifestyle issues seem high, also a past base of good strength and subsequent low exercise regimes seem also consistent. Trick is to adapt too these core exercises which are not the typical burn for the blokes. At least i know what is going on now!
can anyone address this condition as a result of abdominal surgery?
I was diagnosed with DR because the last two years following a fall down the stairs I have had excruciating pain when lying back or laying down. I played hockey for 20 years I never had pain this intense before so any advice would be helpful
At age 60, it appears doing 300 sit-ups a day, 3 times a week, wasn’t good for me! Or, was it the hernia surgery 3 weeks ago that caused it? Anyway, let the healing, and work, begin.
Really noticed mine at about 58 or 59. Figured lots of crunches were the answer. Oopsie. It’s actually wider now, partly because I also gained 30+ pounds in retirement. Now I’m 67, and will continue to work on it. It only hurts when I get poked right in that separation spot,
My Dr found an umbilical hernia when I went to ask about my diastasis bump which became evident after losing 23 lbs during 3 yrs of karate and kickboxing. I was Kickboxer of the year in 2013. ???? KOTY
I AM 77, 5-11, 215 lbs and can’t get to 200 to save my ass. Three times a week at 2 hrs is all I can do to avoid being stiff and sore forever. The hernia is gone but the bump remains. Will try your exercises to improve my side profile. ????Grr!
I am 67 years old In May 2015 I had liver surgery. The incision across my abdomen area is the same size as a transplant surgery. This involves severing the main muscles that usually produce the “six pack” look. After months of healing, one large hernia and two small hernias developed in this area. I went back under for correctional mesh installed down the center of my stomach. Same incision. During the new healing process, I developed the new condition as discovered with a Cath scan. The determination was that I now had Diastasis recti. I have not exerted or done anything to cause this malady. I feel that the surgical process, destruction of nerve tissue, and desensitizing my abdomen area blood flow is the cause of this problem. The new doctor recommended fix is to see a plastic surgeon. Does anyone have information to contribute?
Exactly what happened to me. I figured a full abdomen mesh would be the solution, but I haven’t found any surgeons who will do it for “medical reasons.” Thus, my insurance won’t cover a “cosmetic procedure.” All of the surgeons said that likely this will get worse and indeed I’ll have a serious hernia pop out later as I age,and then I’ll need ot get that repaired – yes, with a full abdomen mesh. Very frustrating. I’m beginning the recommended exercise routines but I doubt this will ever be normal again.
James I recommending suing your doctor to have him pay for the plastic surgeon and the pain and suffering as a result of causing the problem
I had my 3rd lumbar fusion surgery in 5 yrs . The first 2 didn’t take obviously . I’m 54 now and this last surgery the doctor went in through my back and my stomach. I have a 7″ scar to the left of my umbilical. It’s been 11 months since I had surgery and I was on my bed doing core exercises and my wife noticed the bulge . Lucky I was scheduled to have a ct scan to see if the fusion is solid this time and it is . But I asked my surgeon to see if I had a hernia . He said it was D.R . But another doctor said it is a form of a hernia . I just started physical therapy . Also like everyone else I was in great shape I was a pro mountain bike racer so I was made of steel . Now I’m over weight by 25 lbs . Now I made of Titanium in my back and neck C 3, 4 & 5 and L 5, 6, 7, & S1 . The good news is I am alright , on a scale from 1 to 10 for pan 10 being the worst I was always at 7 or 8 now I’m at 3 not bad . All I want is to get rid of that alien on my stomach and life won’t just be great it will be awesome . Thanks R.
So is anyone making any progress with their exercises and seeing reduction with their DR?
I’m a 39 year old male. I noticed about 6 month ago that when i lie down flat and raise my legs i have a american football shaped protrusion just above my navel.
I had been fairly sedentary for a long time before i started going to the gym again and it was around that time i noticed the protrusion. I’ve always been fairly slim and fit and have had the top 2 pair of abs showing most my life. Now i can still see the outer side of my middle abs but in the middle there is now this football protrusion.
I’m quite worried i can no longer work my abs or do squats or dead lifts because of this since those exercises require a lot of intra abdominal pressure to protect the spine.
Seems like the overwhelming common denominator with men who develop this issue is the same thing that happened to me. Lots of training for lots of years followed by a few years of being lazy and finally trying to start training again. I am only 37, and I have this. I guess it’s time to put down the weights and start doing some seemingly silly abdominal exercises. lol
I’ll see you at aerobics class.
I’m with you all. Had a umbilical hernia surgery 10 years ago after many years of heavy lifting both in the gym and on the job. Now 10 years later at the age of 40 I have DR. I had to search the web to find out what it was. Like some I started doing sit-ups to resolve the issue. That made it worse! It’s now hard to get out of bed without rolling on my side. I’m going to try some of these exercises and hopefully it helps.
I am a 66 yr old man. I was in very good shape when I was younger. I surfed for over 50 Yrs, 3-4 times a week. I have had diastasis approx 15 yrs. I have been to 5 Dr’s & all I hear is, ” there’s NO PAIN with this” & ” it’s NOTHING!” My life has been destroyed & I get NO HELP. I live with pain every minute of every day.
These stories all sound very familiar. I was never in “pro athlete” shape, but I was in good shape. I played 80 to 100 hockey games/year throughout my 30’s and could always do sit-ups very well. At about age 45, I started to notice an abdominal bulge when I did sit-ups or crunches and it got consistently worse. I’m now 60 and the simple act of sitting up in bed causes an extreme bulge. I’m now also developing lower back problems, which I suspect might be related. I think I need to read up on the exercises and maybe find a trainer that is knowledgeable about the condition.
Still working on it, both the weight loss (I’m 30+ over from 5 years ago) and the exercises. I still pump some iron but no crunches, only the prescribed ab exercises. Got to do more cardio, but get lots of walking with the dog and golf. Again, no pain unless my grandson punches me in the solar plexus. I’ve learned to cover up!
I went through about a year with GERD, and the convulsions from that, I’m sure didn’t help my DR any.
I ended up with a diactis recti after having hernia surgery as a kid. The surgery went wrong and a haematoma split my abdomen when I was 5. I went from a kid to a grown man with a diactis recti and only realised the injury when I was in my 30’s. You are all lucky you did not grow from a young age with such an injury because as you gain weight, your breathing would become shallow, your posture would be effected and the stomach would be weak and not with stand the rigors of life. I now have serious energy problems and my internal organs have pushed forward and will not go back. I have had the split fixed but it has not made any difference. I get my spine checked out soon because it seems to have moved forward because of the way I stood while I was growing. Poor surgery gave me this problem but by not strengthening the abdomen it stayed weak and left me so tired it’s untrue. I’m 45 now and only knew about the split because it’s down in my medical records as a divarication of the rectus.
42 with DR after umbilical hernia surgery. Found working out with a breathable ab binder and periodically wearing it helped retrain the muscles; reducing the visceral fat via swimming and cardio reduced the belly pressure; and exercising the traverse abdominal to help retrain the muscles to pull inward rather than expand outward had positive results. Also, I read it’s recommended that all males after age 55 with DR get screened for aortic aneurysms…joys of aging.
Not one soul has commented on their successes with the DR exercises. Anyone?
If I lose about 40 pounds gained over the last 5 years, I think the exercises work.
Also, I have acute Gastroesophageal Reflux, which causes me to convulse occasionally, and cannot be good for DR.
No pain, but obvious bulge in upper abdomen. i am 68, first noticed it 6 years ago. I need to lose the weight but i’ve come to terms with the DR.
Always fit before, I’m gonna get some looks at my 50th high school reunion!
Hey look, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m President and your not.”
~ Donald Trump (Zing!)
haven’t heard anyone who have had a complete livertransplant I have had d r right after surgery first check up after week 1 the dr felt the bulg said oh and nothing else later about a year or so they said I had diastasis recti but no explantion 3 years later I’m in server pain daily they say cant help me they call it an unoperatable hernia any help out there
I am 50 years old, slim and sporty, and I had a umbilical hernia surgery 9 years ago. Now I had an inguinal hernia surgery and they discovered DR. They say it poses a risk to develop new hernia in which case I will need a diastasis surgery. Never heard of DR before but I think the reason is that I inherited weak connective tissue and I’m also going to gym and do crunches etc – nothing extreme and I do sports for health reasons.
Maybe I can’t avoid a surgery anyway and I might get a hernia also from a dry cough, even without sports. But my aim is to avoid a surgery and continue to do sports, in a good way to stabilize the situation without making it worse. Should be a common problem but it is usually discussed in connection with pregnant women or obese people and the advice I read is sometimes controversial. Not easy.
So maybe there’s somebody in a similar situation, or share experience on training or on the surgery.
Could you provide all of the standing and sitting upright diastasis gentle core excersizes that you mentioned in article? thanks so much. For men.
Exercise will not close the gap because diastasis is a stretching of the linea alba, which is not a true hernia. That said, weight loss will help but only surgery will close the gap. My doctor said it was aesthetic and not to worry unless it developed into a hernia.