Mind, body and spirit


Exercises for Diastasis Recti or Tummy Gap

Posted on December 27, 2012 at 11:37 AM Comments comments (217)
Diastasis Recti or tummy gap
So you have a Diastasis Recti, where there is a gap running in the muscles (more then 2 fingers gap, 2 or less is fine) down the front of your tummy. What now?

We want to try, with gentle exercise, to correct the gap (bring it back together). Why? Because Diastasis Recti is associated with a weak core including week pelvic floor and can lead to a lack of strength & stability in the entire pelvic region & midsection. Weakness in these areas could contribute to back pain, bad posture, pelvic floor dysfunctions, hernia, as well as potentially leaving you with a tummy that looks like you are still months pregnant aka THE Mummy Tummy.

There are a few huge NO’s when starting to exercise to correct the Diastasis Recti:
▪               Sit up’s / Crunches or any exercise of this kind – NO
▪               Pilates exercise such as Jack Knife, rolling – NO
▪               Oblique Twists or any such exercise that work the Oblique muscles – NO

If you’re unsure what these are, don’t worry. You simply don’t want to put any pressure on this midsection, which will only serve to pull the rectus abdominus apart (6 pack), until we are sure that, through gentle core exercise, the gap has been corrected and closed.
Before we can move on to any of these type of exercises we need to work with the Transverse Abdominus (TA), the deep postural muscles that act as corset around the spine, along with the Pelvic Floors (PF).

The Exercises
To work the TA & PF, we work with our breath in a slow and controlled manner.
1. Seated tall on a chair or crossed legged on the floor, lifting right up onto the sit bones,
    lengthen through the spine and draw shoulder blades down your back into a soft 
    V shape.
2. Breathe in through the nose wide and full into the rib cage, so that you feel the ribs
    expand and breathe out slowly and controlled through the mouth as if breathing out
    through a straw. Practice the breathing a few times.
3.  Picture a piece of string from your belly button going back towards your spine and
    when you breath in pull the string back so that your tummy button pulls back towards
    your spine and as you breathe out slowly release the string (tummy button) back.
    Practice this a few times before we really start multi tasking!
4. Repeat step 3 again, but this time imagining a lift between your pelvic floor muscles
   and your tummy button (your lift has 10 floors) as you breathe in and pull your belly
   button back you are going to pull up your lift to the 10th floor (PF) or as high as you
   can and then breathe out and slowly release.
5. Try step 1-4 on all 4’s. Hands under shoulders, knees under hips, head in line with 
    the spine, eye line to finger tips.
6. Now place a pillow/cushion or Pilates/Chi Ball between your knees and whilst
    completing steps 1-4 on all fours include a squeeze of the pillow or ball between 
    your knees.
7. You can also do step 6 in laying on your back, feet flat, knees to ceiling.
    Do this every day, make it part of your get up or go to bed routine. As well as this
    practice your pelvic floor exercises.

How Long Will It Take?
How long it takes to correct/close the Diastasis depends on 2 major factors, the first being the severity of the Diastasis…for example a gap of 3 fingers in the top which is quite shallow could take just 6 weeks but a deeper wider gap will take much longer to repair. The second factor is YOUR commitment, like any form of exercise only your own commitment will gain results. Think of your commitment as muscle the more you train it the stronger it will become!
Most of all give yourself time and don’t expect over night results, Rome wasn’t built in day as they say!
Once the gap is closed we can start to add different exercises onto this. A word of caution here though, just because you have closed the gap doesn’t mean it will stay closed if you train in the wrong way. You COULD re-open the gap so it is important to take advice from a qualified pre-post natal exercise specialist before you do anything further. But you can give yourself a massive head start by practising steps 1-7 EVERY single day!