Wendy Powell

Diastasis Recti | The Muscles

curved line
core exercises for pregnancy

Diastasis Recti is the separation of the 2 parts of the rectus abdominis muscles. The collagen tissues of the Linea Alba and Linea Semiluniaris (mid-line connective tissue) are stretched and weakened.

This image shows what happens to your abdominal muscles when diastasis recti occurs.

Diastasis recti muscles

Diastasis recti occurs as a result of excessive intra-abdominal pressure or loading. It is common in the later stages of pregnancy, particularly second or subsequent pregnancies. DR happens when your core is not quite functioning optimally, because your body is not aligned optimally. The result is instability and weakness, or back pain, or a tummy you don’t like the look of.

The Rectus Abdominis is 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 Abdominis is on the outside.

When the 2 parts of the muscle separate as a result of this increased pressure, the connective mid-line is stretched and weakened as it takes all other muscular and fascial support structures along with it. This leaves the front of the abdomen unsupported and unstable.

Important: Diastasis recti is a symptom of excessive intra abdominal pressure. This is the same state that creates other pelvic and abdominal problems including hernia and prolapse. DR should therefore be treated as part of an integrated program designed to restore, re-connect and then strengthen the entire core musculature, rather than be addressed in isolation (and rather than focussing only on ‘closing the gap’).

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68 comments

Cabea BabybellybandJune 5, 2017

May we use this image on our blog?

Wendy PowellJune 6, 2017

Hi there,
I’d be happy for you to use this image as long as full credit is given to MuTu System, our web address mutusystem.com is shown, and the image is used in its full original form. 🙂 x


red little tikes trikeSeptember 19, 2015

Thanks for finally talking about >Diastasis Recti | The Muscles <Loved it!


Devon MullinsJanuary 21, 2015

May I use your image in my blog?

Wendy PowellJune 25, 2015

Provided it is fully credited, in original form (unaltered) + there is a link to here, yes!


Devon MullinsJanuary 21, 2015

May I use your image in my blog?


AmandaDecember 19, 2014

I have had twins. Im post 6 months and just did the test that reveals I have it. I knew something wasnt right after loosing all this weight, having a weak core and pooch. Is it too late for me?


AmandaDecember 19, 2014

I have had twins. Im post 6 months and just did the test that reveals I have it. I knew something wasnt right after loosing all this weight, having a weak core and pooch. Is it too late for me?


DaniApril 29, 2014

Hi Wendy,
Once you get the muscles strong again and pulled back together, can they separate again if you stop the program and they weaken? Is this a program you need to do for life. My doctor is saying I need surgery for my muscles to stay together but I’m looking for other options.


DaniApril 29, 2014

Hi Wendy,
Once you get the muscles strong again and pulled back together, can they separate again if you stop the program and they weaken? Is this a program you need to do for life. My doctor is saying I need surgery for my muscles to stay together but I’m looking for other options.

Wendy PowellJune 3, 2014

Hi Dani, they will separate again if you stop using your core right. So its not so much that you have to do any program for ever, but rather you will start to apply correct core engagement to all movement, and that will keep your tummy where you want it. Don’t worry, it becomes less of a conscious effort as you learn!


DaniApril 29, 2014

Hi Wendy,
Once you get the muscles strong again and pulled back together, can they separate again if you stop the program and they weaken? Is this a program you need to do for life. My doctor is saying I need surgery for my muscles to stay together but I’m looking for other options.

Wendy PowellJune 3, 2014

Hi Dani, they will separate again if you stop using your core right. So its not so much that you have to do any program for ever, but rather you will start to apply correct core engagement to all movement, and that will keep your tummy where you want it. Don’t worry, it becomes less of a conscious effort as you learn!


RoseApril 17, 2014

Hi Wendy
I had 2 babies in 2 years. I got pregnant with my second just 11 weeks after giving birth to my first. my youngest is now 1 year and I still look about 5 months pregnant. I have a gap between my stomach muscles of about 1 cm, and behind my belly button it is just very slightly wider. I have read so much about Diastasis Recti and I am so confused! Is my stomach normal or are my insides trying to come out?! Do I need some sort of operation as my stomach is so big? I just don’t know if this is normal when the gap between my muscles is 1 cm.
Thanks

Wendy PowellApril 19, 2014

Hi Rose, this article will help clarify for you ‘what’s normal’ https://mutusystem.com/your-body-after-having-a-baby-whats-normal-what-isnt.html Please ask if you have further questions!


RoseApril 17, 2014

Hi Wendy
I had 2 babies in 2 years. I got pregnant with my second just 11 weeks after giving birth to my first. my youngest is now 1 year and I still look about 5 months pregnant. I have a gap between my stomach muscles of about 1 cm, and behind my belly button it is just very slightly wider. I have read so much about Diastasis Recti and I am so confused! Is my stomach normal or are my insides trying to come out?! Do I need some sort of operation as my stomach is so big? I just don’t know if this is normal when the gap between my muscles is 1 cm.
Thanks

Wendy PowellApril 19, 2014

Hi Rose, this article will help clarify for you ‘what’s normal’ https://mutusystem.com/your-body-after-having-a-baby-whats-normal-what-isnt.html Please ask if you have further questions!


KaylaApril 3, 2014

I had the diastasis recti bulge while I was pregnant, but it shrunk right down after birth. Now I can feel small gap between the ab muscles, the width of about half of a finger tip. I’ve been doing tva exercises and core strengthening through yoga and strength training of the rest of the body for about two months now. Is it safe for me to go back to leg raises and bicycle crunches and criss crosses etc? While I was pregnant the bulge looked like it was about 2.5-3 cm, but like I said went away pretty much immediately after birth .. Thank you! And also I love your site. It’s been so helpful!


KaylaApril 3, 2014

I had the diastasis recti bulge while I was pregnant, but it shrunk right down after birth. Now I can feel small gap between the ab muscles, the width of about half of a finger tip. I’ve been doing tva exercises and core strengthening through yoga and strength training of the rest of the body for about two months now. Is it safe for me to go back to leg raises and bicycle crunches and criss crosses etc? While I was pregnant the bulge looked like it was about 2.5-3 cm, but like I said went away pretty much immediately after birth .. Thank you! And also I love your site. It’s been so helpful!

Wendy PowellApril 19, 2014

Thanks for your kind comments Kayla! This article should help answer your questions https://mutusystem.com/how-long-postpartum-till-i-can-crossfit-plank-run.html


KaylaApril 3, 2014

I had the diastasis recti bulge while I was pregnant, but it shrunk right down after birth. Now I can feel small gap between the ab muscles, the width of about half of a finger tip. I’ve been doing tva exercises and core strengthening through yoga and strength training of the rest of the body for about two months now. Is it safe for me to go back to leg raises and bicycle crunches and criss crosses etc? While I was pregnant the bulge looked like it was about 2.5-3 cm, but like I said went away pretty much immediately after birth .. Thank you! And also I love your site. It’s been so helpful!

Wendy PowellApril 19, 2014

Thanks for your kind comments Kayla! This article should help answer your questions https://mutusystem.com/how-long-postpartum-till-i-can-crossfit-plank-run.html


Wendy PowellFebruary 28, 2014

Hi Jess, It’s less than you were born with the condition, so much as that ever since childhood you have learnt movement patterns that increase intra abdominal pressure. Diastasis is an pressure issue, affected + caused by your body alignment. Its not a condition that is inherent or genetic. You can always improve your alignment + this will reduce the pressure + yes it will help to narrow the gap + strengthen the midline connective tissue for improved stability + tone. Whether or not it will ‘close completely’ depends on many factors, but, yes it will improve if the program is followed, particularly with regards to all the alignment work.


JessFebruary 25, 2014

This is all very well and good, but I was born with my DR I know this because I used to watch it blugle as I was doing sit ups at the age of 16 not over weight, two children later and weight gain at 50 I diagnosed mine and got a scan to confirm. It’s 4 finger widths wide and sits to the right of my stomach it’s so big…will mutu help this?


Amy Tosch LozanoFebruary 12, 2014

I have two children and have had about 7 suregeries that went through my belly button and 5 of those suregeries have been for an Umbilical Hernia. This last hernia surgery I had the biological mess put in and now my stomach is bulging out bad. I have gone back to my Dr and he informed me it was due to my sever diastasis recti. He has informed me that I would need to have a tummy tuck to take care of the problem. When I say severe I can get at least 4 if not more fingers in between my muscles. It is starting to bulge out more daily. I NEED HELP!!

Wendy PowellFebruary 25, 2014

Hi Amy, please read the articles on hernia here https://mutusystem.com/category/hernia-and-prolapse + the information on seeing a specialist physio help here https://mutusystem.com/referral-to-a-womens-health-physiotherapist.html The MuTu Focus program is likely to be be the perfect complement to medical care with your Doctor’s approval.


Amy Tosch LozanoFebruary 12, 2014

I have two children and have had about 7 suregeries that went through my belly button and 5 of those suregeries have been for an Umbilical Hernia. This last hernia surgery I had the biological mess put in and now my stomach is bulging out bad. I have gone back to my Dr and he informed me it was due to my sever diastasis recti. He has informed me that I would need to have a tummy tuck to take care of the problem. When I say severe I can get at least 4 if not more fingers in between my muscles. It is starting to bulge out more daily. I NEED HELP!!

Wendy PowellFebruary 25, 2014

Hi Amy, please read the articles on hernia here https://mutusystem.com/category/hernia-and-prolapse + the information on seeing a specialist physio help here https://mutusystem.com/referral-to-a-womens-health-physiotherapist.html The MuTu Focus program is likely to be be the perfect complement to medical care with your Doctor’s approval.


Wendy PowellJanuary 25, 2014

The sooner you start they better shape your core + pelvic floor will be in for your next pregnancy!


miami85January 16, 2014

I have 2 kids, but hoping to try for a 3rd soon, should I bother with this now, or wait?

Wendy PowellJanuary 25, 2014

The sooner you start the better shape your core + pelvic floor will be in for your next pregnancy!


miami85January 16, 2014

I have 2 kids, but hoping to try for a 3rd soon, should I bother with this now, or wait?

Wendy PowellJanuary 25, 2014

The sooner you start they better shape your core + pelvic floor will be in for your next pregnancy!


jk111December 27, 2013

I have had 2 children. My youngest, now 12, was 10 lbs when she was born. I have had 2 ventral hernia operations (hernia at the belly button). I have just been told I have a diastasis proven with a ct scan. I have been told I need to have a surgical repair at this point. Will these excersizes help me?

Wendy PowellJanuary 25, 2014

The program suitable for you to complement your medical care would be Focus. By all means show it to your doctor /Physio. The program is endorsed + recommended by specialist women’s health physiotherapists


jk111December 27, 2013

I have had 2 children. My youngest, now 12, was 10 lbs when she was born. I have had 2 ventral hernia operations (hernia at the belly button). I have just been told I have a diastasis proven with a ct scan. I have been told I need to have a surgical repair at this point. Will these excersizes help me?

Wendy PowellJanuary 25, 2014

The program suitable for you to complement your medical care would be Focus. By all means show it to your doctor /Physio. The program is endorsed + recommended by specialist women’s health physiotherapists


jlzDecember 17, 2013

I’ve been doing a combination of MuTu and Tupler and been wearing a splint almost religiously for 4 months. My separation seems to have halted at 3 fingers and very shallow (started at 4 fingers and quite deep). Once the diastasis is shallow what is the best way to finally bring the gap together – just keep doing what I’m doing?

Wendy PowellJanuary 25, 2014

MuTu System is a 12 Week Program, then you know how to use your core + stay strong + stable – applying to all future workouts. Are you in the customer facebook group too – there’s a tonne of ongoing support in there too 🙂


jlzDecember 17, 2013

I’ve been doing a combination of MuTu and Tupler and been wearing a splint almost religiously for 4 months. My separation seems to have halted at 3 fingers and very shallow (started at 4 fingers and quite deep). Once the diastasis is shallow what is the best way to finally bring the gap together – just keep doing what I’m doing?

Wendy PowellJanuary 25, 2014

MuTu System is a 12 Week Program, then you know how to use your core + stay strong + stable – applying to all future workouts. Are you in the customer facebook group too – there’s a tonne of ongoing support in there too 🙂


BekMay 21, 2013

I’ve just purchased this and I can’t waaaait to start!! I had a 4 finger gap separation after my 3rd child (14 months ago) in 3.5 years and have done the Tupler Technique religiously since birth. I’ve technically closed my gap when laying down and testing but it still sits about 3 fingers apart when I’m standing because my connective tissue is still very weak and deep (I can feel all my insides when I’m laying down! Yukkk). Although it has helped me reduce the size of my gap I”ve hit a plateau and it feels like my fingers will always dip into my tummy to my knuckles. I’m very active and have lost all of my baby weight but hate when I look in the mirror and see my abs sitting out on what feels like the sides of my waist. I’ve been desperately trying to find exercises to strengthen the tissue so I reeeeeeally hope that it can help me! Thanks for giving me hope! Can’t wait to see the results after the 8 weeks!!

Wendy PowellMay 27, 2013

Welcome Bek!


BekMay 21, 2013

I’ve just purchased this and I can’t waaaait to start!! I had a 4 finger gap separation after my 3rd child (14 months ago) in 3.5 years and have done the Tupler Technique religiously since birth. I’ve technically closed my gap when laying down and testing but it still sits about 3 fingers apart when I’m standing because my connective tissue is still very weak and deep (I can feel all my insides when I’m laying down! Yukkk). Although it has helped me reduce the size of my gap I”ve hit a plateau and it feels like my fingers will always dip into my tummy to my knuckles. I’m very active and have lost all of my baby weight but hate when I look in the mirror and see my abs sitting out on what feels like the sides of my waist. I’ve been desperately trying to find exercises to strengthen the tissue so I reeeeeeally hope that it can help me! Thanks for giving me hope! Can’t wait to see the results after the 8 weeks!!

Wendy PowellMay 27, 2013

Welcome Bek!


AshleyAugust 8, 2012

Hi Wendy,
I have several questions. Is this fully correctable with anyone, at anytime in their life? I have had four kids. After my second child I joined the army, UNAWARE of this condition, and worked out a lot. Did I damage my abs even more by doing this? Also, I have yet to be seen for my postpartum checkup for my fourth child. And, I have been anticipating working out. I actually started 2 weeks ago, until I was looking up ab workouts and came across DR. While one is healing, or even before one begins to heal their ab muscles are other exercises alright to do? If so which ones would be considered safe and which ones wouldn’t be? Or should one wait until their entire abs are fully recovered before working out?

Wendy PowellSeptember 25, 2012

Hi Ashley, yes – it doesn’t matter how long ago you had your babies – you can always improve it. Don’t think of it as waiting to get fixed & then going back to traditional ab exercises – if you work your core right you will fix it & you know how to get a strong core without ever doing crunches & other traditional ab work. This explains more https://mutusystem.com/do-i-have-to-do-core-exercises-forever-when-is-it-fixed.html


AshleyAugust 8, 2012

Hi Wendy,
I have several questions. Is this fully correctable with anyone, at anytime in their life? I have had four kids. After my second child I joined the army, UNAWARE of this condition, and worked out a lot. Did I damage my abs even more by doing this? Also, I have yet to be seen for my postpartum checkup for my fourth child. And, I have been anticipating working out. I actually started 2 weeks ago, until I was looking up ab workouts and came across DR. While one is healing, or even before one begins to heal their ab muscles are other exercises alright to do? If so which ones would be considered safe and which ones wouldn’t be? Or should one wait until their entire abs are fully recovered before working out?

Wendy PowellSeptember 25, 2012

Hi Ashley, yes – it doesn’t matter how long ago you had your babies – you can always improve it. Don’t think of it as waiting to get fixed & then going back to traditional ab exercises – if you work your core right you will fix it & you know how to get a strong core without ever doing crunches & other traditional ab work. This explains more https://mutusystem.com/do-i-have-to-do-core-exercises-forever-when-is-it-fixed.html


SofyJuly 19, 2012

Question: So what is the program from you that I have to buy to help me with my diastesis recti? Cause I am still not understanding where in your site I can get the exercises needed to correct the problem. Many thanks.

Wendy PowellJuly 20, 2012

Just click ‘buy online training program’ at the top there Sofy 🙂 https://mutusystem.com/download-the-mutu-system-coaching-programme.html


SofyJuly 19, 2012

Question: So what is the program from you that I have to buy to help me with my diastesis recti? Cause I am still not understanding where in your site I can get the exercises needed to correct the problem. Many thanks.

Wendy PowellJuly 20, 2012

Just click ‘buy online training program’ at the top there Sofy 🙂 https://mutusystem.com/download-the-mutu-system-coaching-programme.html


TrishGibbsJuly 18, 2012

I also have a hernia above my belly button. Will repairing th DR also repair the hernia? What causes it ? I had one in the same spot and had surgery in February where they put a mesh on it. Now there is another one and its even bigger then the first. I have talked to a different surgeon who has suggested going up from the C-section scar, removing the mesh and the suturing the muscle together to repair the hernia with my own muscle. The surgeon I used previously wants to just put a bigger mesh. I have purchased the MuTu system but haven’t gotten very far. Is it better to wait or will it help before the surgery or instead of the surgery? ( sorry/ lots of questions!)

Wendy PowellSeptember 25, 2012

The MuTu core exercises will help you to heal & restore at ANY stage Trisha. I’m afraid I can’t comment on your individual surgical procedures but I can recommend that you follow MuTu Core & MuTu Breathe from the System & it will benefit you whatever your decision about further surgery. Please don’t do the inteensive workouts whilst you have these ongoing issues – Core & Breathe are what you need! More MuTu & hernia info here https://mutusystem.com/hernia-and-diastasis-recti-postpartum-umbilical-hernia.html


TrishGibbsJuly 18, 2012

I also have a hernia above my belly button. Will repairing th DR also repair the hernia? What causes it ? I had one in the same spot and had surgery in February where they put a mesh on it. Now there is another one and its even bigger then the first. I have talked to a different surgeon who has suggested going up from the C-section scar, removing the mesh and the suturing the muscle together to repair the hernia with my own muscle. The surgeon I used previously wants to just put a bigger mesh. I have purchased the MuTu system but haven’t gotten very far. Is it better to wait or will it help before the surgery or instead of the surgery? ( sorry/ lots of questions!)

Wendy PowellSeptember 25, 2012

The MuTu core exercises will help you to heal & restore at ANY stage Trisha. I’m afraid I can’t comment on your individual surgical procedures but I can recommend that you follow MuTu Core & MuTu Breathe from the System & it will benefit you whatever your decision about further surgery. Please don’t do the inteensive workouts whilst you have these ongoing issues – Core & Breathe are what you need! More MuTu & hernia info here https://mutusystem.com/hernia-and-diastasis-recti-postpartum-umbilical-hernia.html


guestJune 14, 2012

Great diagram, but I just don’t understand how strengthening the muscles will ever tighten the connective tissue. They seem like two entirely different things.

Wendy PowellJune 14, 2012

The connective Linea Alba is relatively elastic – which enabled it to stretch in the first place, taking the muscles with it. But precisely because all of the core musculature is connected (not entirely different, but in fact entirely interdependent) – they are all part of the same SYSTEM of fascia & muscle. 

Many other muscles are relevant too, in the lower spine, inner & other thigh / hip muscles, & deep postural muscles such as Psoas & Pirifirmis… all work together to either hold us stable, strong & in good alignment (with no pressure pushing our abs out & away) or the opposite: tight, weak & lacking optimal function. 

By restoring & then strengthening all these muscles to work correctly & optimally… a strong Transverse Abdominis will draw the stomach back in flat, bringing the Rectus in & together in the process. At the same time the mid-line is tightened & strengthened. A small remaining gap is not necessarily a problem, provided the connective mid line is firm & shallow, not deep & soft.

Have a read of the other posts to explain more, but the muscles are an interconnected SYSTEM – & that fact means that working those muscles & changing the  level of abdominal & pelvic pressure through focussed exercise & adjusted alignment, will correct the system as a whole. 

That’s also why addressing only ‘the gap’ is only a small part of the jigsaw. The gap will narrow for the long term, only when entire core function & pelvic alignment is restored.


guestJune 14, 2012

Great diagram, but I just don’t understand how strengthening the muscles will ever tighten the connective tissue. They seem like two entirely different things.

Wendy PowellJune 14, 2012

The connective Linea Alba is relatively elastic – which enabled it to stretch in the first place, taking the muscles with it. But precisely because all of the core musculature is connected (not entirely different, but in fact entirely interdependent) – they are all part of the same SYSTEM of fascia & muscle. 

Many other muscles are relevant too, in the lower spine, inner & other thigh / hip muscles, & deep postural muscles such as Psoas & Pirifirmis… all work together to either hold us stable, strong & in good alignment (with no pressure pushing our abs out & away) or the opposite: tight, weak & lacking optimal function. 

By restoring & then strengthening all these muscles to work correctly & optimally… a strong Transverse Abdominis will draw the stomach back in flat, bringing the Rectus in & together in the process. At the same time the mid-line is tightened & strengthened. A small remaining gap is not necessarily a problem, provided the connective mid line is firm & shallow, not deep & soft.

Have a read of the other posts to explain more, but the muscles are an interconnected SYSTEM – & that fact means that working those muscles & changing the  level of abdominal & pelvic pressure through focussed exercise & adjusted alignment, will correct the system as a whole. 

That’s also why addressing only ‘the gap’ is only a small part of the jigsaw. The gap will narrow for the long term, only when entire core function & pelvic alignment is restored.

JessFebruary 25, 2014

This is all very well and good, but I was born with my DR I know this because I used to watch it blugle as I was doing sit ups at the age of 16 not over weight, two children later and weight gain at 50 I diagnosed mine and got a scan to confirm. It’s 4 finger widths wide and sits to the right of my stomach it’s so big…will mutu help this?

Wendy PowellFebruary 28, 2014

Hi Jess, It’s less than you were born with the condition, so much as that ever since childhood you have learnt movement patterns that increase intra abdominal pressure. Diastasis is an pressure issue, affected + caused by your body alignment. Its not a condition that is inherent or genetic. You can always improve your alignment + this will reduce the pressure + yes it will help to narrow the gap + strengthen the midline connective tissue for improved stability + tone. Whether or not it will ‘close completely’ depends on many factors, but, yes it will improve if the program is followed, particularly with regards to all the alignment work.


Beth LearnJune 13, 2012

This is perfect! What a great diagram!!! Thanks for all your awesome info, Wendy!

Wendy PowellJune 13, 2012

Thanks Beth! I was fed up searching for a good one so had our designer draw it to my spec… & of course to make it in pink ;))


Beth LearnJune 13, 2012

This is perfect! What a great diagram!!! Thanks for all your awesome info, Wendy!

Wendy PowellJune 13, 2012

Thanks Beth! I was fed up searching for a good one so had our designer draw it to my spec… & of course to make it in pink ;))


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