Diastasis Recti or Abdominal Separation refers to the separation of the outer-most abdominal layer - your Rectus or 6-pack muscle group - along the linea alba into left and right halves.
The linea alba is the connective tissue which joins the different layers of abdominal muscles at the midline of the body – it often becomes more visible during pregnancy, but will now begin to fade in your postnatal period. This separation is 100% normal and had to happen to make room for your growing baby.
* EVERY postnatal woman will have some degree of diastasis recti but this will vary greatly.
We measure the severity of your diastasis by 3 key factors;
HOW DO YOU REHAB YOUR DIASTASIS?
SELF- ASSESSMENT - The crucial first step is to assess your diastasis. It doesn’t matter when you join the program – immediately following birth or 6+months into your postnatal period.
- IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING BIRTH – If you begin the Postnatal After-birth Training Program (week 1-6/8 following child birth) wait until you have completed the first two week before you self assess. There will still be a lot of swelling and fluid immediately following childbirth so give your body time to heal before performing the test.
- WHEN YOU FIRST BECOME A BODYLOVE PILATES POSTNATAL MEMBER – Every postnatal woman will have a diastasis but the degree will vary. It is important to continue to self asses as you strengthen to ensure that the diastasis is healing and completely closed before you progress with more challenging abdominal exercises.
Follow along with Ali as she does self assessment two week after she has given birth to her second child.
NO FORWARD BENDING – As with your pregnancy – until your diastasis has completely closed and healed you want to avoid forward bending of any kind. This means when you are exercising (crunches) and in everyday life. (getting off the couch, out of bed, off the ground after playing with your baby)
- Forward bending, or spinal flexion causes the 6pack to engage and shorten, and it this activation that pulls on the already stretched or torn connective tissue, Linea Alba, and will cause more damage! Effectively ruining all the hard work you are doing when practicing your Fundamental exercises!
- You are already in a “hunched” over position due to the weight of your breasts, prenatal postural habits, breast/bottle feeding posture. Flexing the spine in exercise only encourages this “hunched” position and can cause additional strain and pain on the locked muscles of the upper back, neck and chest.
AVOID ALL EXERCISES THAT YOU CANNOT PERFORM WITH THE DIASTASIS COMPLETELY CLOSED – You are not ready to do these exercises if you are not able to keep the diastasis closed when performing them. You should instead build up to the full exercise by modifying it at first. For example - Planking. First begin with both knees down, One leg out - elbows down both legs out - full plank.
- It will feel like a pulling or a tugging on the midline of the body
- You will see a triangle type formation arise from your belly letting you know you are not connected.
PRACTICE YOUR FUNDAMENTAL EXERCISES – The more you do these the stronger the neural pathways will become to help you reconnect, strengthen and the quicker you will rehab your diastasis.
Find demonstrations for all the Fundamental Exercises in the exercise video collection.
LIMIT THE RANGE OF MOTION ON EXTENSION AND ROTATION - Extension and rotation should have a limited range of motion also so has not to further stretch the linea alba.
- Importantly be aware of how you get up and down so you do not engage the rectus!
- To lie down ”From a seated position slide all the way down until you are side lying, only when your head is completely down can you roll onto your back!” To come back up – “Roll over onto your side. Using your top arm push yourself up to an upright seated position."
WHAT ARE THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF DIASTASIS RECTI?
- You will never be able to lose your Mommy Tummy
- Low back pain that can continue and worse throughout your life
- Poor posture
- Pelvic floor dysfunctions - stress urinary incontinence, faecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapsed