Exercising postpartum can feel overwhelming for a whole host of reasons, it might be time constraints, insecurity in your body, lack of energy (late nights, midnight wake-ups, early mornings…we’ve been there, we completely get it!), the list could go on! One reason that might be on that list is diastasis recti (DR) and what diastasis recti exercises are actually safe and helpful in your goal of healing.

It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the information (and misinformation!) out there, so let’s clear the confusion surrounding working out with diastasis recti. 

By the end of this article, you will gain an understanding of how to exercise to support your body as you work to heal DR and have 5 new diastasis recti exercises you can feel confident doing.

 

How you perform an exercise matters just as much as what exercise you perform

One of the reasons why women have such a hard time healing DR is not from the ‘what’ but instead the ‘how’…let’s dive into this a little more. Many women know what diastasis recti exercises they should do but how those exercises are being performed are oftentimes neither optimal nor helpful in healing DR. 

We are drilled with the messages of ‘No pain no gain’… ‘If it isn’t hurting, it isn’t helping’… and other similar messages that teach us to disconnect from our bodies and push past what is safe and beneficial all for the sake of ‘the burn’ and ‘gains’. This is an outdated principle and downright harmful when it comes to helping a postpartum body heal properly. 

What you are feeling during an exercise and how your core looks as you are performing a move are very telling of the benefits behind what that move is providing. To learn more about this important principle read THIS

 

Optimal Core Recruitment

One more important thing to cover before we get into the actual exercises is how you are recruiting and engaging your core during exercises. How many times have you been in an exercise class and heard the instructor say some form of ‘Engage your core!’ …‘Bring belly button to spine’ …‘Keep core tight!’.. and inside thought ‘What in the world does that even mean?!’ 

These common cues thrown around are actually not all that helpful in knowing how to correctly engage your core- and correctly engaging your core is a foundational principle you must get right for you to see any benefits from the exercises you are doing. This foundational principle is even more important when you are focusing on creating a routine with diastasis recti exercises. To review how to properly engage head on over HERE.

In short, an exercise will do little to no good if you are not engaging correctly, executing a move properly, or pushing your body past what it can actually handle. It is time to stop disconnecting from your body during exercises and instead tune in to what you are doing and feeling to start to find true momentum in healing!  

 

The Exercises

Let’s get into what you really came here for,  5 diastasis recti exercises (plus a warm-up!) you can add immediately into your workout routine to help heal diastasis recti! 

Just like any other workout you do, having a warm-up is beneficial to get your body ready for the training you are about to do. Before you get started on the exercises take a moment to connect to your core (remember that means pelvic floor too!).

  • Warm-Up: Connection Breaths 
    • Lay down on your back or sit with your eyes closed
    • Place a hand on your lower stomach to bring in that tactile connection
    • On your next inhale focus on relaxing your body (no tension anywhere!)
    • Exhale and as you are exhaling focus on lifting your pelvic floor, feeling that gentle tension in your core as you do. 
    • Repeat for 5 cycles of breath

 

1.Lamp Post Pee 

  • Come onto all fours in a tabletop position 
    • Keep your shoulders over wrists, hips over knees, and check-in that you are maintaining a neutral spine.
  • Inhale, center yourself, and get ready to begin
    • check that you are not holding tension in your body- jaw, neck, and glutes are big culprits for this!
  • Exhale, gently engage your core and lift one knee out to the side
    • Make sure that as you lift your knee off the ground and out to the side that you are not tipping to the opposite side. Stay level and use your core to stabilize you as you lift the knee out. No rocking or swaying.
  • Inhale and release engagement as you lower your knee back down
    • This is a controlled lower that is timed and connected to that inhale. Don’t rush this!
  • Repeat for a total of 10 reps, alternate the knee you lift, 5 lifts on each knee.

 

2. Shoulder Taps 

  • Stand behind a chair or couch. Anything that you can place hands on and lean into. 
    • The further out your feet are from the chair the more intense this move will be. Find a level that feels comfortable for you. 
  • Inhale and make sure your arms are mostly straight but not locked 
    • Check-in and make sure you are not tensing your body in certain places
  • Exhale, gently engaging core, and lift one hand off the chair to tap the alternate shoulder
    • Do not tip, sway, or move in your body. The only thing that moves is the hand that is tapping your shoulder. Use your core to stabilize. 
  • Inhale and lower your hand back down to the chair
    • This movement is slow and controlled, your core continuing to stabilize you. 
  • Repeat for a total of 10 reps, alternating the taps, 5 taps on each shoulder. 

 

3.One Leg Hip Lift 

  • Lay on the ground with your feet on the floor
    • Check in to make sure you are not tucking your pelvis under
  • Exhale and push up into a bridge position 
    • You will maintain this bridge position for the rest of the exercise
  • Inhale, center yourself, and get ready to begin
    • Check that you are not holding tension in your jaw or neck
  • Exhale and engage your core as you lift one leg off the ground to a level that feels comfortable.
    • Try to maintain the height of your bridge as you lift your leg up, using the core to stabilize.
  • Inhale and lower leg back down, returning to starting position
    • Keep this movement slow and controlled 
  • Repeat for a total of 10 reps, alternating the leg you lift.
    • If needed, come out of the bridge position after 5 reps for a small break.

 

4.Staggered Step and Pull 

  • Get an exercise band
    • alternatives could be a pair of tights or anything you can pull and get some slight tension works great
  • Stand with one foot stepped forward and the other back.
    • Both legs are straight (but knees not locked) and feet facing forward.
    • Hold the band or tights at chest level.
  • Check in with your shoulders
    • make sure they are relaxed and not lifting up towards your ears
  • Inhale, center yourself, and get ready to begin
    • Your band is held out right in front of you, arms straight but not locked, there is a slight bend at the elbow.
  • Exhale and gently engage your core as you pull the ends of the band apart 
    • Don’t force the band to pull too far apart, feel how as you pull the band apart your core ‘kicks in’ more to support that movement. You should not be shaking or losing your balance. Stay stable as you pull the band. 
  • Inhale, release engagement, and release tension on the band
    • Keep the band raised at chest level, don’t lower. 
  • Repeat for 5 reps

 

5.Squat and Squeeze 

  • Grab a small ball or pillow and hold it at chest height 
    • Check-in with your shoulders- make sure they are relaxed and not lifting up towards your ears
  • Inhale and squat down
    • As you lower into your squat think of sitting back into a chair- use your glutes! Keep your knees and toes tracking in the same direction and don’t let your knees go over your toes. 
  • Exhale and push through to standing as you gently squeeze the ball/pillow
    • Keep the majority of your weight in your heels, this will keep the work where you want it- in your backside! Feel how that gentle squeeze on the ball increases the activation in your core.
  • Repeat for 5 reps, going at a pace and squat depth that feels good for you.

And there you have it, 5 diastasis recti exercises you can feel safe and confident doing! You can sprinkle these into your workout routine here and there or you can do all 5 in a row for an awesome DR focused core workout. Either way, these moves will be so beneficial! 

 

Let’s wrap this up

We talked about a handful of important principles today, a few were:

  • It can often feel overwhelming to know how to exercise safely with DR
  • How you perform an exercise matters just as (if not more) than what exercise 
  • Learning how to engage your core properly is vital 
  • The ‘no pain no gain’ mentality=outdated. Tune into your body and work with your body, not against it. 
  • And of course, we went over your 5 new diastasis recti exercises! 

Above all remember, healing diastasis recti is NOT just about ‘core-specific’ exercises, we are not spot treating an isolated part of the body. We are focusing on the entire system and how the core is performing in that dynamic system! As you are doing these exercises keep in mind what your focus is: your core. 

So how did those exercises go for you? Were you able to feel your core working? Did anything surprise you as you tried these moves out? Let us know, we want to cheer you on! 

Now, before you go, let’s have a quick pep talk. You (yes, YOU) are strong and capable. Your body is strong and capable. Remember this truth and if you have an internal dialogue running through your head that is telling you otherwise, kick it to the curb. Go out there and take control of your day, you got this gorgeous.  

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If you loved these 5 exercises and the information you were given, then listen up! We love giving little snippets of guidance, education, and exercises but if you want it all and feel like there is more you need to learn- we have what you need! 

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