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I know what you’re wondering..”Do I have an abdominal separation?”

Ever noticed how you get doming when you do a sit-up? How your core feels “weak”? Your stomach still looks pregnant after having kids.

You’re afraid this may never change.

The truth?

You will be able to tighten the gap of your separation, but it may never close completely.  And that is ok!

Let’s start with…

How do you check for a Diastasis Recti?

You can asses your DR whether you are pregnant, a first-time mom or more seasoned.  Jessie Mundell (Physiotherapist) recommends waiting two weeks postpartum to do your first assessment.

Step 1:

Lie on your back with your knees bent.  First just feel.  Feel around your belly button, above and below.  

Feel for the quality of the tissue (specifically the line alba- the center), do your fingers sink in? Is it firm? Is it squishy?  You have to know what you are working and what it first feels like to see your progression. 

The goal is to: Maintain INTEGRITY with exercise and to do so, we need to know where to begin.  Lift your shirt and expose your belly. 

Step 2:

Next, place fingers pointing downward with the middle finger in the umbilicus

Step 3:

Tuck your chin towards your chest and slowly lift your head off the floor.  Only your head should come off the floor.  Keep your shoulders down.  Repeat a few time.  Feel for a separation.

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Step 4:

Check above and below your umbilicus and note how many fingers width the separation is and the quality of the tissue. Greater than 2 fingers are significant.  If your separation is wider, seek out a pelvic floor physiotherapist for a complete diagnosis. 

Watch this video to see how big your gap is.

But don’t forget…the goal is to strengthen the connective tissue, not necessarily decrease the gap completely.

What’s the magic formula to tighten the gap? First..

What is the Rectus Abdominis?

“The rectus abdominis muscle, also known as the “abdominals” or “abs”, is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior abdominal wall.  There are two parallel muscles, separated by a midline band of connective tissue called the linea alba.” This is the tissue that spreads during an abdominal separation.  We want to “tighten the gap” instead of close it.

So, what’s the secret?

#1 Change your movement {for now}

  • Sitting to standing… slide to the end of the chair and use your legs to stand.
  • Getting off the floor- lunge one foot forward, hands-on front thigh, move weight to the front foot and push with your leg strength to rise up, reverse to go down.
  • Every morning>>> Roll to your side to get up.  DO NOT jackknife out of bed.
  • When laying down always ROLL to your side and push up.
  • Shift your ribs back over your hips
  • Check your pelvis.  You want to “untuck” your tush when sitting and standing. {Think of releasing your buttocks.}

#2 What are the best Diastasis Recti Exercises?

    1. Diaphragmatic breaths.  Take deep breaths allowing your abdominals to let go.  This may seem weird at first, but you are re-teaching your pelvic floor, diaphragm and abdominals to re-engage.
    2. Learn how to engage and stretch your pelvic floor.
    3. Abdominal pumps.  This will help tighten the gap of your separation.
    4. Engage your hips; your glutes, inner and outer thighs

#3 Are sit-ups ok with diastasis recti?

Yes! once you learn how to engage your pelvic floor, you can begin to work your core again.

Most importantly remember, your body has an amazing capacity to heal. I have helped women reduce their diastasis recti within 8 weeks.

Even if your children are 20+, you may still be able to close the gap and learn new movements to protect your back, hips, knees and pelvic floor for a lifetime of fluid movement.

In short, you want to know how big your gap is.  Then learn how to engage your pelvic floor, then learn how to engage your core.  All of this along with flushing out your hormones with a postpartum diet, you will be able to be strong once again!

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How To Test For Diastasis Recti + Best Exercises
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