If you're you suffering from diastasis recti years after you had your babe? Feeling overwhelmed? Know that even outside of the “postpartum period” you can heal this! Learn how to fix diastasis recti years later.
There’s no “expiry date” on when you can work on healing abdominal separation from pregnancy. Use these diastasis exercises and tips to help heal your abs no matter where you are in your postpartum journey.
It's Never Too Late To Heal Diastasis Recti
Up until a few years ago, diastasis recti wasn’t much talked about (which is a shame).
And with that, there is a growing population who went undiagnosed and now believe it’s too late to fix diastasis.
However, that is most certainly not the case.
As a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist, I can tell you that you can learn how to fix diastasis and strengthen your rectus abdominis muscles at any time in the postpartum journey.
You can start these exercises immediately or 5, 10. 20 years later!
Your body is a smart thing, it can learn to heal diastasis recti use the muscles in the way you need them to, and strengthen at any age.
The Steps You Need
- Correct and relearn breathing patterns
- Improve your posture with stretching and mobility drills
- Strengthen the back of the body and core muscles with strategic exercise
These are the exact steps I teach in the 7-week heal your core program.
What is Diastasis Recti?
In short, diastasis recti is when the six-pack muscles (the rectus abdominus aka deep core muscles), specifically the connective tissue, separate during pregnancy from being stretched.
This abdominal separation can cause poor ab engagement as well as the ab muscles to almost “stick out” post-pregnancy.
This is where the “pouch” term comes from.
One thing to make note of is that you can have diastasis recti and still be able to do all the things you love.
It’s not so much about fully correcting the separation or “fixing” as it is teaching the abdominal muscles to engage again.
Symptoms Of Diastasis Recti
So, how do you know if you have abdominal separation?
The best thing you can do is find a trained professional in your area for an assessment.
This can be a qualified personal trainer who specializes in post-pregnancy or a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
Some common symptoms of diastasis recti are:
- Low back pain
- Belly pouch
- Poor posture
Poor abdominal function can also result in issues with your pelvic floor (think leaking).
For more information on your pelvic floor and your pelvic floor muscles, check out these tips from a pelvic floor physical therapist.
How To Heal Diastasis Recti Years Later?
Regardless of how long it’s been since you’ve given birth, you can work on improving the engagement of your abdominal muscles and healing connective tissue.
To do this, you’ll start with the three steps below.
- Core engagement
It’s not a fast process. Like anything, strengthening your abdominal muscles takes consistency and slow, controlled focus.
But it’s possible.
Step 1: Correct & Relearn Breathing Patterns
Relearning proper breathing patterns is tricky and takes time. But it makes all the difference.
If you’re experiencing a “distended” lower belly (the pouch), try your best not to just “suck it in”.
Doing this pushes the pressure inside down which can result in leaking and an overworked pelvic floor.
How To Do It
- Lay on the floor with your head supported on a pillow
- Place one hand on your belly.
- When you inhale, you want to feel your belly rise under your hand
- Your upper chest muscles should remain relaxed and unmoving (though you might feel the lower ribcage expand slightly)
- When you exhale, your belly returns to normal.
Practice your breathing daily for 10-15 breaths.
Then, you can do more from lying down to sitting and then standing as well as exercises like piston breathing.
Make sure that it comes more and more naturally over time.
Terryll Bladock, a pelvic floor specialist has some really amazing videos on her YouTube Channel about breathing and how to progress it throughout the postpartum period.
Step 2: Posture
This step is a bit of a cycle as poor posture can lead to a disengaged abdominal wall and a non-functioning abdominal wall can lead to poor posture!
The truth is, many of us simply don’t realize that how we’re sitting and standing are affecting our ab muscles.
The first thing you want to do in this step is to find your “neutral”.
How to: Stand upright and aim to get your ribs over your hips and your shoulders and heels in line. Do not flare your ribs.
Now, finding your neutral while standing or sitting is one thing, but the movement is another thing.
One of the areas that affect our breathing patterns, how we move and our diastasis recti is our upper body.
Specifically a lack of movement in our thoracic spine and shoulders (check out the best exercises for the thoracic spine).
To improve this, you’ll want to practice finding a good position while laying down (keeping your ribs tucked!) and implementing the following dynamic stretches:
- Floor angles
- Pull overs
- Thoracic sweeps
Try to do these exercises for 10 repetitions each, two sets, and a few times per week.
Step 3: Exercises
Now, before panic sets in, know that these exercises are very low-impact, can be done on the floor, and are far more based on engagement than intensity. You need to focus.
Your goal is to learn how to connect your breathing to your abdominal engagement through movement.
Use these four exercises as a starting point in learning how to fix diastasis recti (and check out these other exercises to heal mummy tummy too!).
This is your “deep abdominal” muscle and one you need to learn how to engage.
How To Do It
- Lay on the floor on your back with your knees bent and feet flat
- Think of lifting up the lower half of your bum so you feel as if you're drawing your belly button into the floor
- Think of tucking your pelvis under or bringing your hip bones towards your ribcage.
- Your upper body shouldn't move, you are simply tilting your pelvic to stabilize.
- Hold 5-10s
- release fully
Perform 8-10 repetitions.
This postpartum core exercise is a great way to combine the exercises you're already learned and put them into action with some movement.
It's still low impact, can be done anywhere and it really helps fine-tune the core and pelvic floor connection.
How To Do It
- Lay on your back and place a washcloth (or use socks) under one heel
- One knee should be bent and the other out straight, keep the hip bones squared to the ceiling
- Create tension in the deep abdominals by lifting your pelvic floor "up and in" and using a minor pelvic tilt when you exhale
- At the same time, use that tension to pull the straight leg back towards your hips
- Keep the hips stable as you release the leg back out
Perform 5-8 repetitions per leg
Learning to resist movement and then engage to perform the concentric part of an exercise.
How to do it
Knee Drops: lay with your back on the ground and knees bent. Tuck your ribs down and press your low back into the floor. Slowly drop one knee toward the floor.
While you do this, do not let the low back arch or the hips tilt. Go as low as you can before form stalls, then, reverse the movement using your core to pull the knee up.
All of these exercises can be done for 8-12 repetitions, three sets and a couple times per week.
Once you’ve mastered the basics above, you can move into performing specific diastasis recti workouts.
From there you can begin to add more and more intensity. Some other really great exercises you can include when you’re ready are:
You'll also want to start strengthening glutes so that you can carry kids easier.
- How to reduce back pain
- Exercises to AVOID as a new mom
- Benefits of strong glutes
- Strong glutes during pregnancy
- Ab exercises better than sit ups
- Pelvic floor health
- Glute workout finishers
- Glute exercises for pregnancy
- Follow along home workouts
- Strength training for beginners
- Non-scale fitness goals
- Fitness tips for moms
Sick Of Feeling Self-conscious About Your Stomach?
If you feel frustrated with your body and disappointed that you didn’t “bounce back” after pregnancy.. you’re not alone!
Healing diastasis recti and cutting the mom pouch can be done at any stage postpartum (yes, even years later!).
It’s time to reclaim your pre-pregnancy confidence.
Through a 7-week, strategic, home workout program, I help you retrain your core muscles so that you’re stronger and more confident.
In just ten minutes a day and with only your living room furniture and a mini band, you can finally start feeling good about your tummy muscles.
Don’t let diastasis recti hold you back, embrace a stronger core, reduce the niggling “mom aches”, and learn how to Heal Your Core for just $39
Frequently Asked Questions About Healing Diastasis Recti
When diastasis recti is not rehabilitated, most people will experience back pain, poor core stability, and sometimes leaking. Thankfully, you’re able to teach your deep core muscles to fire and fix diastasis recti years later, it’s never too late!
Though losing weight is a great goal and can slim your stomach slightly, it won’t heal diastasis recti. Diastasis is not weight-related but engagement-based. You need to retrain your body and abdominal muscles on how to breathe, move and engage together.