Diastasis Recti (aka DR) … is probably something you have come across before. Maybe it was on Pinterest as you were searching for postpartum workouts, or from a personal trainer on social media, possibly your friend brought it up at your last playgroup, or maybe your doctor mentioned it to you. Was what you heard about diastasis recti recovery positive? Or were you told the narrative that surgery is the only option or that diastasis recti is just something you have to deal with?
Well, we are going to set the record straight on diastasis recti recovery. We will drop some truth bombs on common misconceptions and give you the truth you truly need to know when it comes to healing diastasis recti and reclaiming your strength and confidence. Let’s drop some truth bombs!
Truth Bomb # 1
Misconception: If I have diastasis recti that means my muscles tore
Truth: Your muscles do not tear with diastasis recti. If there is a tear in the connective tissue this is called a hernia. What actually happens when you have a diastasis is the connective tissue (this runs vertically down your midline and holds your rectus muscles together) thins and weakens- causing the natural width between your rectus muscles to become an unnatural width. This widening, weakening, and thinning causes instability of the core structure which leads to symptoms and issues.
Diastasis recti recovery through restorative movement and exercise is possible because there is NOT tearing of the muscles. Rehabbing the muscles and the core system through the right kinds of exercise is incredibly effective in healing DR.
Truth Bomb # 2
Misconception: If I have diastasis recti during pregnancy that is bad
Truth: Diastasis Recti is actually a normal and natural part of pregnancy. Our bodies are incredibly smart- they were designed to have babies! When a woman gets further along in her pregnancy the body will start to naturally separate the rectus muscles to make room for the growing baby. How cool is it that the body creates more room?! This is so important to understand because it really changes the narrative around diastasis during pregnancy and diastasis recti recovery postpartum. Instead of worrying and obsessing over whether you get DR during pregnancy, you can realize that your body is just doing what it needs to do to create life! How empowering!
Most women have some level of diastasis in late-term pregnancy and in the immediate weeks postpartum but the body naturally heals that separation. When there is still a separation and symptoms accompanying 3+ months postpartum, that is when it becomes so important to address DR specifically to aid the body in healing. It is good to note that being proactive in protecting and supporting your core and pelvic floor during pregnancy and immediately postpartum is very beneficial and can prevent longer-term issues from DR.
Truth Bomb # 3
Misconception: Diastasis Recti can only be fixed through surgery
Truth: This is simply just not true. At one point when DR wasn’t as understood as it is now, it was thought surgery was the only way. The most frustrating thing is that with all we now know about diastasis recti recovery and how effective restorative exercise is for healing, there are some doctors and providers who have not caught up with the times and are unfortunately still pushing a narrative that is outdated.
To be fair- there are some cases that surgery is the best way to restore function. When connective tissue reaches a point of no tensegrity or responsiveness, no amount of exercise will be enough. But this is a reality for only a minority. For the majority, surgery is not needed and amazing healing can come through movement and full-body/lifestyle approaches. If you have been told that surgery is the only way to heal DR I challenge you to challenge that! Advocate for yourself by educating yourself, getting a second opinion, and add restorative movement aimed at healing DR into your routine and see what happens.
Truth Bomb # 4
Misconception: Diastasis Recti is healed when there is zero separation left
Truth: Let’s do a very brief anatomy lesson- your rectus muscles are not 1 single muscle. They are two separate muscles. You have a right rectus muscle and a left rectus muscle that are held together by connective tissue (this goes back to truth bomb #1 and how your muscles do not tear with DR). No one actually has ‘zero separation’ because that is not how we are anatomically. When muscles are functional and connective tissue is firm and strong, it can feel like there is no separation, even though there technically is. Having a ‘1 finger’ or ‘2 finger’ separation can be completely normal. This is all relative to each individual. If someone has always had a 2 finger separation between their rectus muscles, got pregnant and had a baby, then read about DR and feel they have a 2 finger separation… is that really a diastasis to be concerned about?
There is so much more to diastasis recti recovery than just simply the width between rectus muscles. What issues and symptoms do you have? How is the connective tissue down the midline? Someone who has a 2 finger separation with no issues and has strength and function vs someone who has a 2 finger separation with urinary leakage, back pain, and doming in the core are in two different categories although if you were to just look at separation between the rectus muscles they would both technically be in the ‘diastasis recti’ category.
Are you starting to see the bigger picture? I hope so! So no, DR is not healed when there is NO separation left. DR is healed when the core is functional, strong, and you have no symptoms that are getting in the way of you living your life!
Truth Bomb # 5
Misconception: Diastasis Recti is not something that can heal years later
Truth: Throw out all arbitrary timelines you have been told and believed about your body’s capacity to heal. Just because it has been 5,10,15+ years since you have had children doesn’t mean you are past the point of being able to address and heal your diastasis recti.
When you give your body the right tools and the right environment, healing can happen. Diastasis recti recovery is not just for newly postpartum women. Check out these amazing stories from Debbie (a grandmother) and Jenni (a mom of 12.. Yes 12) to inspire you and give you hope that healing is never out of the question!
And last but not least….
Truth Bomb # 6
Misconception: As a mother, issues like leaking, back pain (pssst… if you have back pain check out THIS video!), diastasis, and more are just ‘what happens’ once you have kids
Truth: You deserve the dignity of a body that works right, that you feel amazing and confident in, without guilt! If you are struggling with DR and symptoms please know that you do not have to just deal with those. Diastasis recti recovery is possible and there is so much that can be done to free you from symptoms that are holding you back.