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Ask the Expert: Diastasis Recti

Ask the Expert Diastasis Recti

Q: I recently had a baby and am four weeks postpartum. I think I have diastasis recti (separation between the abdominus recti muscles). Do you have any advice on how to work with and rehabilitate this condition?

A:

Diastasis recti is a common occurrence in pre- and post-natal women. If you experience diastasis recti during pregnancy, the effects may still be felt for up to two years after giving birth. During pregnancy, there isn’t much that can be done about diastasis recti rather than focus on neutral. Postnatal, there is more that can be done.

Try this test to see if it you have diastasis recti:

  • Lie supine on the floor
  • Place three fingers 2 inches above the belly button in a horizontal position
  • Keep the fingers in place, nod the chin towards the chest and lift the head off the mat
  • Gently push the fingers down and feel for a space between the two rectus abdomini muscles (a space of two fingers or greater is considered diastasis recti)

If you have diastasis recti, there are several contraindications to be aware of, including flexion, extension and rotation. In terms of programming, start working in neutral first, and focus on transverse abdominus engagement. Working too much in flexion can make the condition worse. Once the space has started to decrease, you can start adding in small amounts of flexion.

Before starting any fitness program post-partum, check in with your medical practitioner for any indications or contraindications specific to you, your posture and your fitness level. Find a Certified STOTT PILATES® Instructor who has trained in Injuries and Special Populations or STOTT PILATES Rehabilitation program who can help you shape a program specific to your needs. Use our Instructor Finder to locate a Certified Instructor in your area who can help you with your workout program.