The best exercises for diastasis recti begin with mindful RECONNECTION of your whole core muscle system.
TL;DR? Watch the video below for a taster of proven diastasis program MUTU System, plus a demo of the first 2 exercises!
Diastasis Recti happens when the midline six-pack muscles at the front of your abs separate to make room for your pregnancy. This is perfectly normal. The gap may narrow naturally in the weeks and months following birth, or sometimes the separation. This can cause a lack of stability and function, as well as a tummy that appears to pooch out.
You can have a strong and functional core with a small gap, so it doesn’t need to close up entirely. But if the gap is 2-3 fingers or more wide (how to test yourself for diastasis recti video here), then a DR may cause instability, or a tummy you don’t love the appearance of.
Essential diastasis recti exercises
No.1: Connecting mind to muscle with the MUTU Breath™️
Your ‘Core’ means your deep transverse abdominus muscle, your obliques and your rectus abdominus – the vertical one at the front midline of your stomach. Your Core also includes your diaphragm under your ribcage, the multifidus muscles of your spine, and your pelvic floor at the base. These muscles form a cylinder shape of vital muscles that comprise your core musculature or trunk.
IMPORTANT: To restore your core and narrow a diastasis recti, you don’t need to do more or harder ab exercises, you need to do different ones.
Start with a connecting MUTU Breath. Sit in a comfortable position, cross legged on a pillow or block, on a big pilates ball, or lay down on your back.
Place a hand on your lower stomach to bring in a tactile connection. Take a couple deep breaths to relax and centre. Drop your ribs and your shoulders.
Exhale and as you are exhaling focus on lifting your pelvic floor, feeling that gentle tension in your core as you do.
On your next inhale focus on relaxing your body (no tension anywhere!) Repeat for 5 cycles of breath.
Best diastasis recti exercises No. 2: Heel Drop
Lie on your back on the mat. Place the pillow under your upper shoulders and head and feel your ribs settle down towards the floor.
Your knees should be bent up and your feet flat on the floor. One first and then the other, bring your knees in towards your chest so they’re resting at 90 degrees. There should be no strain at all to hold them there so if your abs are straining to hold them in position, bring them in a little closer.
Now exhale as you draw your abs inwards and slowly drop one heel to touch the floor. Rest your heel on the floor as you inhale, then exhale and bring it back. Breathe in to the back of your rib cage,
Then exhale and engage as you drop the other heel slowly. Rest and let go and breathe in. Then exhale, engage and bring it back.
Keep going, moving slowly with your breath. Always moving on the exhale, resting on the inhale.
Your lower abdomen should draw gently in as you exhale and engage. If it bulges outwards at all, stop, regather and try again.. Remember, always inhale and relax as you rest. Exhale, engage as you move. Keep going in time with your own breath. Do 5-8 drops on each leg, nice and slow.
No.3 Lamp-post Pee
[Kinda the movement of a dog relieving itself at a fire hydrant or lamp post LOL.]
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 just off the floor. It only needs to come just off the floor for your core muscles to start working to stabalize you.
Make sure that as you lift your knee off the ground 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. Repeat for a total of 10 reps, alternate the knee you lift, 5 lifts on each knee.
Diastasis recti exercises No.4: High Kneel and Squeeze
Grab a small pilates ball, a pillow or a child’s soccer ball – anything will do so long as you can hold it between your palms and it’s got some ‘squidge’. Hold between your palms in front of your chest.
Now kneel up high so you’re not sitting on your heels. You’re going to exhale and engage your deep muscles and pelvic floor as you squeeze the ball between your palms.
Each time you inhale, release the pressure on the ball and fully relax and open. In your own time, to your own breath, squeeze, exhale, engage pelvic floor and core. Inhale, release and fully open. Feel your pelvic floor draw up inside as you squeeze on the ball and exhale.
Everything relaxes as you inhale. And relax.
No.5: Squat and Squeeze
Keep hold of your small ball or pillow and hold it at chest height like for the last exercise. Check-in with your shoulders- make sure they are relaxed and not lifting up towards your ears
Inhale and squat. 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.
Notice how these diastasis recti exercises are *not* all lying on your back!
You went from sitting or back-lying, to all fours, to a high kneel, to standing. We need to move in a functional, load bearing to restore and strengthen our core and reduce a DR.
So there you have it, 5 diastasis recti exercises you can feel safe and confident doing at home. You can sprinkle these into your workout routine, or you can do all 5 in a row for an awesome DR focused core workout. Ready to follow the medically recommended MUTU System, proven to improve diastasis recti? Click here for a 10 Day Free Trial, we can’t wait to meet you!