What are the best exercises for Diastasis Recti?
The internet is full of Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to the right exercises for diastasis recti. So first please know this: You are not broken. You’ve done nothing wrong. No exercises or moves are inherently ‘bad’ and there are no exercises or activities that you will never do again or that your body is incapable of because you have a diastasis.
Evidence-based research and practice has evolved, and MUTU is always based on the most up to date and proven strategies. Approved by NHS Digital as safe and effective and shown in 2020 NHS trials to improve diastasis recti and other core and pelvic symptoms, be assured you’re in the right place for safe exercises for diastasis recti.
What is Diastasis?
Diastasis recti is the widening of the gap between the 2 sides of the Rectus Abdominis (‘six-pack’) muscle. The split occurs at the Linea Alba, the mid-line collagen structures of connective tissue at the front of the abdomen. In simple terms, it may contribute to your abdomen still looking pregnant or to instability or lack of strength through your core.
AKA: DR, diastasis, ‘Divarication of the Recti’, DRA or ‘Rectus Divarication’. Frequently called: mummy tummy, mum tum, baby bulge, baby belly.
What does a Diastasis look like?
Your tummy might still “look” pregnant, many months or even years post-baby. A DR can present itself as a ‘doming’ of your tummy, made more obvious when performing crunch type movements or sitting up from a lying position on your back.
After using MUTU System 94% of women reported an improvement in signs and symptoms of diastasis of the recti, separation of the stomach muscles.*
What does a Diastasis feel like?
Aesthetic concerns are not the whole story. The separation isn’t the problem in itself, it may be a symptom of a weak core (and/or pelvic floor). This can lead to a lack of strength and stability in the entire pelvic region and midsection.
You may also experience pain in your back, pelvic region or tummy when doing every day movements or exercise.
However (and this is important) diastasis recti is not always a problem, it is not the sole or root cause of a tummy you don’t like the look or feel of. The separation may be causing you problems, but you can also have a strong and functioning core and still have a small gap. In either case MUTU is proven and medically recommended to get your tummy and pelvic floor where you want it to be.
Causes of Diastasis Recti
A diastasis is a sign of excessive and uncontained intra-abdominal pressure or loading. It is common in the later stages of pregnancy, particularly second or subsequent pregnancies.
Pregnancy isn’t a cause of DR but the increase in load and the inevitable shift in alignment contribute to the root problem. Excessive and ‘un-contained’ intra abdominal pressure.
The Rectus Abdominis is only 1 of 4 layers of abdominal muscles: the Transverse Abdominis (deepest muscle layer) the Interior and Exterior Obliques (next 2 layers) that form your waist, and then the Rectus is on the outside.
When the 2 parts of the muscle separate or come apart, the connective mid-line is stretched and weakened as it takes all other muscular and fascial support structures along with it. This can leave the front of the abdomen unsupported and unstable. This seam of connective tissue is designed to be taut, at full length and aligned in a vertical (breastbone to pubic bone) plane. But it cannot perform or function optimally when alignment is ‘out’. So it’s alignment we need to address to address a diastasis!
Exercises for Diastasis
Finding and connecting with your core and pelvic floor
Step 1: FIND and RECONNECT your core and pelvic floor.
Step 2: GENTLY draw your belly button back towards your spine as you slowly exhale. THAT’S THE MUSCLE. Keep your chest and shoulders relaxed.
Step 3: Ensure you aren’t sucking in forcefully, you are subtly drawing in your lower abs. Your shoulders, chest and pelvis shouldn’t move when you gently engage your core.
❌Don’t tuck your pelvis under as you do this
❌Don’t hold your breath
Correcting your alignment
Step 1: Walk more, wearing minimal shoes.
Step 2: Sit less and stand more. Change how you move.
Step 3: Get out of heeled shoes.
Follow these steps to help you to tweak and adjust your alignment. Alignment and posture affects uncontained pressure and loading.
Next you must learn to ENGAGE and RELEASE your core and pelvic floor effectively in everyday movements. You want to be able to carry your baby, push your pram, lift your children, do housework, walk, and move with a strong and functional core. MUTU retrains, reconnects and strengthens your core.
You won’t always have to engage and release your core consciously but this is where we start.
Then you strengthen your transverse abdominis muscle to help draw your rectus abdominis muscle back in together, helping your tummy to feel stronger and look flatter.
Exercises that may require caution with Diastasis Recti
Crunches, sit-ups, twists, straight leg lifts or holds whilst lying on your back are not the best first postpartum exercises for diastasis recti. This is due to the requirement of these moves for a correctly functioning and recruiting core muscular system. If you have not yet been shown the correct breathing and engagement strategies for your core and pelvic floor, you wont get the benefits you’re hoping for.
Don’t worry you won’t need to avoid them completely, or forever! Learning foundational core and pelvic floor connection strategies will enable you to progress to modified and then full versions of all your favourite exercises. We simply need to build those foundations back first.
Exercises for Diastasis FAQ
Am I too late to heal my diastasis recti and pelvic floor? My youngest is in school or my kids have long flown the nest!
Your postpartum recovery doesn’t have an expiration date! It’s never too late to strengthen, restore and reconnect those muscles, and really start to feel stronger, more stable and symptom free again. We have mums in our community who’s children have long flown the nest. MUTU is designed for every mum, no matter when she had her babies.
Does MUTU recommend using a splint or belly binder?
MUTU System does not advocate binding or splinting your stomach as a solution to diastasis recti. MUTU System is based on the principle that ‘the gap’ is a symptom (not the root cause) of a compromised core and possibly a misaligned posture. To focus on the gap only without addressing these fundamental issues, along with effective metabolic fat loss techniques… is not going to get you the tummy you’re after. Of course if you choose to wear a wrap of some description postpartum for comfort and support, rather than compression, this is fine.