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Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti


Diastasis recti is an extremely common condition that affects many people – especially pregnant women or those who have recently given birth. 

Estimates of prevalence vary but many sources say it affects around 60% of women. And whilst it often resolves itself in the weeks postpartum, estimates say that 40% of those who suffer from a diastasis recti still have it six months into the postpartum period.


Diastasis Recti is the separation of the 2 parts of the rectus abdominis muscles. The collagen tissues of the Linea Alba and Linea Semiluniaris (mid-line connective tissue) are stretched and weakened.

This increase in inter-recti distance leads to lack of force closure and a reduced capacity for load transfer and management of intra-abdominal pressure within the postpartum ‘core’. For many women this abdominal wall dysfunction is also accompanied by other lumbopelvic dysfunction such low-back pain and SUI. ‘Healing’ of a DRA requires a holistic approach as resolution involves the coming together of the neurological, emotional, articulate, postural alignment, myofascial and nutritional 

The Best Exercise, When?

Referral Restorative Phase

Towards 3 finger gap or more. Very early Post Natal with a palpably weak midline.

Work with a Trusted Specialist Health Care Provider and follow their advice.

Sagittal Phase

Less than or equal to 2 finger wide distension with a weak midline.

Core and functional work is predominanted by movement in the saggital plane.

Avoid planks & prone stress, sit ups, anything that induces coning of abdominals or intra-abdominal stress

Rotational & Prone Phase

Distension has completely or nearly closed and the midline has good tension and is able to withstand intra- abdominal pressure but caution still advised.

Core and functional can now include work in the frontal and transverse planes. Care advised when loading.

Restored Phase

Client is fully restored. Midline can withstand pressure created by ‘heavy’ work.

Client can be treated as ‘normal’ - core and functional can now include loaded work in the frontal and transverse planes.


Holistic approach to Diastasis - ways to support your healing

1 / Core synergy - 

Relearning correct co-ordination of abdominal elements - breath/ diaphragm, PF, abdominal and back engagement

2 / Alignment / Posture

Improve how you sit and stand! Sitting with your pelvis tucked under builds pressure at your belly and Pelvic Floor. The same goes for standing with your bum sticking out
or tucked under, your natural Pelvic Floor activation isn’t going to be optimal in either position and you’ll put your tummy muscles in an excessively lengthened or shortened position. ‘Neutral’ is optimal in both cases and this is simply all about acknowledging your habit and working to undo magic required here.

3 / Drink Water

Improve your hydration status! Every single cell in our bodies require water to function optimally and that goes for the cells that make up the connective tissue of your tummy and Pelvic Floor. Also, if you’re looking for Post Natal Fat MUST be hydrated! How much do you need? Well, simply improve on where you are....if you’re only drinking a glass a day, then upping to 3 glasses will be great as opposed to trying to go from zero to 3 litres per day. If you can get 2 litres of water into your body a day, well that would be awesome....but aim for progress as opposed to perfection

4/ Diet

Are you getting enough protein in your diet? The building blocks of Collagen and Elastin are Amino Acids are derived from protein sources. PS and great quality protein doesn’t have to come from animal sources either. Pea and rice protein also have the full range of Amino Acids required to help you rebuild your tissues.

5/ Stress

Are you living with chronic stress? Research has shown that your capacity to heal is reduced by as much as 25% when you have elevated CORTISOL! If this is true for you, you simply have to find a way to remove omnipresent stress from your life or at least minimize it your core strength and possibly your continence is reliant on it.

6/ Movement

Commit to a lifelong habit of putting your Pelvic/Core Health first by moving your body daily, nourishing your body to support your health on a cellular level and knowing that just because you can say....lift something heavy....doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. Ultimately, being respectful of your Pelvic and Core health now means that you build a strong foundation for the decades to come. Stick to phase appropriate exercises (see "Best exercise, When?" above)

7/ Open your shoulders & Upper back

What do new moms spend most of their day doing? Feeling and holding the baby! Necessary but not great for maintaining optimal thoracic (upper back) posture and creating optimal length/tension through the mysofascial and skeletal system. The decrease in pressure in the upper body ends ups pushing pressure downwards to the weakened tissues of the abdominal wall (belly) and Pelvic Floor – not good for any Diastasis that you may have or for keeping the pressure off your Pelvic Organs and Pelvic Floor!

8/ Change your breathing patterns

Does your belly puff out excessively every time you BREATHE IN and doesn’t descend when you BREATHE OUT? Basically we’re all taking 20,000+ breaths a day and this repeated ‘faulty’ breathing pattern needs correcting to support your Diastasis healing, your management of pressure within your Core and simply because you’re not working your INTRINSIC protective system. If you have a Diastasis, your inhale needs to be modified to a ‘costal’ breath – into the sides and rear of ribs with minimal rise of your belly. Your exhale should trigger the natural coordination of your abdominal system

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Other ‘Limiting Factors’ That May Retard Diastasis Healing 

1. Poor postural alignment in standing, sitting, locomotion – maintenance of a ‘guarding pattern’ associated with trauma and/or chronic pain. 

2. Faulty breathing strategy 

3. Poor nutrition & hydration 

4. Chronic pain conditions 

5. Neurological ‘disconnect’ from abdominal wall, Pelvic floor and breathing strategy 

6. Poor recovery from C-Section including infection and ongoing pain issues 

7. Poor bowel function, gut health and inflammatory bowel conditions 

8. Global inflammation caused by lifestyle habits, excess sugar, chronic stress, smoking 

9. Anti-coagulation medication 

10. Poor lifting strategies 

11. Poor exercises choices 

12. Continuation with breastfeeding 


Overall, the issue of DRA needs to be viewed on a holistic/whole-woman level…….lifestyle, nutrition, postural alignment, mental well-being and so much more. Ironically, the answer to the often asked question ‘what exercise is good for my mummy tummy’ is both long and wide and the exercise portion of the puzzle is way down the list of issues to be addressed to really achieve deep healing and recovery post birth. 

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