7 Effective Diastasis Recti Exercises for Core Healing

7 Effective Diastasis Recti Exercises for Core Healing

Diastasis recti, a condition in which the abdominal muscles separate, can be challenging, especially for postpartum individuals. However, incorporating specific exercises into your routine can significantly aid in healing and strengthening your core. In this blog post, we will explore the most effective exercises for managing diastasis recti, their benefits, and additional tips for recovery.

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti occurs when the rectus abdominis muscles, which run vertically along the front of your abdomen, separate. Nearly every pregnant person will experience some degree of diastasis recti, which is when the abdominal muscles separate to allow room for the growing uterus. This condition often results from the increased pressure on the abdominal wall during pregnancy, causing the connective tissue to stretch and thin. Diastasis recti is a common condition that can contribute to pregnancy pain, with an estimated 1 in 2 women experiencing the condition postpartum.

Causes of Diastasis Recti

The primary cause of diastasis recti is the stretching of the abdominal muscles and connective tissue due to pregnancy. Factors that can increase the risk include:

  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Carrying large babies or multiples
  • Excessive weight gain during pregnancy
  • Performing strenuous abdominal exercises during pregnancy

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Diastasis recti can present with several symptoms, including:

  • A visible bulge or pooch in the abdomen, especially when straining
  • Lower back pain
  • Poor posture
  • Difficulty lifting objects or performing daily activities

How Do I Know If I Have Diastasis Recti?

To check for diastasis recti, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place one hand behind your head and the other on your abdomen, just above the belly button. Lift your head slightly off the floor and gently press your fingers into your abdomen. If you feel a gap or separation, you may have diastasis recti. It’s essential to get a proper diagnosis from a healthcare professional.

The Importance of Exercise in Managing Diastasis Recti

Exercise is crucial in managing diastasis recti. It strengthens the entire core, improves posture, and reduces back pain. Incorporating a core stability exercise program can enhance deep core stability exercise and support healing, especially in the abdominal region affected by diastasis recti.

Can Diastasis Recti Be Corrected with Exercise?

Yes, targeted core exercises can improve and sometimes correct diastasis recti. Studies have shown that functional core exercises are beneficial in treating diastasis recti abdominis, especially when part of a comprehensive core stability exercise program. However, standardized exercise protocols are still needed to determine which specific exercises are most effective.

When to Start Core Exercises for Diastasis Recti

It’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program, especially postpartum. Depending on your individual recovery, you can generally begin gentle core-strengthening exercises as early as a few days after delivery.

Exercises to Avoid with Diastasis Recti

Certain exercises can exacerbate diastasis recti and should be avoided, including:

  • Traditional crunches and sit-ups
  • Planks
  • Leg lifts
  • Heavy lifting

These exercises may lead to further separation of the diastasis recti abdominis and contribute to pelvic pain.

7 Core-Strengthening Diastasis Recti Exercises

7 Core-Strengthening Diastasis Recti Exercises

Incorporating these seven recti workouts into your routine can help improve core strength and aid in diastasis recti recovery. Ensuring proper form during these exercises is crucial for avoiding injury and maximizing benefits. For example, maintaining abdominal contractions throughout the exercises can help engage your muscles effectively and prevent abdominal bulging.

Abdominal Bracing

How to Perform Abdominal Bracing

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor physically.
  2. Place your hands on your lower abdomen.
  3. Take a deep breath in, expanding your belly.
  4. Exhale and draw your belly button towards your spine, engaging your deep core muscles. It’s important to avoid improper breathing techniques, which can hinder the activation and recruitment of the core muscles.
  5. Hold for a few seconds, and then release.

Benefits of Abdominal Bracing for Diastasis Recti

  • Strengthens the transverse abdominis muscle
  • Reduces abdominal muscle separation
  • Improves core stability

Pelvic Tilt (on All Fours)

How to Perform Pelvic Tilt

  1. Get on your hands and knees, ensuring your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Inhale and let your belly drop towards the floor, taking a deep breath. Be mindful of keeping the abdominals tight and avoiding any abdominal bulging. This exercise can be particularly beneficial if you have an anatomical variation that affects your core stability.
  3. Exhale and tuck your pelvis under, drawing your belly button towards your spine.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, and then release.

Benefits of Pelvic Tilt for Diastasis Recti

  • Engages the transverse abdominis muscle gently
  • Promotes better posture
  • Reduces lower back pain

Toe Taps

How to Perform Toe Taps

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and feet lifted off the floor. For an added challenge, extend your left knee to tap the floor while keeping your core engaged and maintaining proper form.
  2. Lower one foot to tap the floor, keeping your core engaged.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other foot.

Benefits of Toe Taps for Diastasis Recti

  • Strengthens the lower abdominal muscles
  • Improves coordination
  • Reduces the gap between abdominal muscles

Bent Knee Fall Out

How to Perform Bent Knee Fall Out

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Engage your core and slowly let one knee fall out to the side.
  3. Bring the knee back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Benefits of Bent Knee Fall Out for Diastasis Recti

  • Strengthens the oblique muscles
  • Enhances hip stability
  • Engages the core muscles gently

Heel Slides

How to Perform Heel Slides

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. As you perform the exercise, be cautious of abdominal bulging and ensure you keep the abdominals tight.
  2. Engage your core and slowly slide one heel away from your body, keeping your foot on the floor.
  3. Bring the heel back to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.

Benefits of Heel Slides for Diastasis Recti

  • Strengthens the lower abdominal muscles
  • Improves hip flexibility
  • Engages the core muscles gently

Bird Dog

How to Perform Bird Dog

  1. Get on your hands and knees, ensuring your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Ensure proper core engagement is maintained and abdominal bulging is avoided during the exercise.
  2. Extend one arm forward and the opposite leg back, keeping your core engaged.
  3. Hold for a few seconds and then return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits of Bird Dog for Diastasis Recti

  • Enhances core stability
  • Improves balance and coordination
  • Strengthens the back muscles

Glute Bridge

How to Perform Glute Bridge

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Be mindful of maintaining abdominal contractions and avoid abdominal bulging as you lift your hips. This exercise is particularly effective for reinforcing the core without placing undue stress on the six-pack muscles.
  2. Engage your core and lift your hips towards the ceiling, squeezing your glutes.
  3. Hold for a few seconds and then lower back down.

Benefits of Glute Bridge for Diastasis Recti

  • Strengthens the glutes and lower back
  • Improves core stability
  • Reduces lower back pain

Additional Tips and Treatments for Diastasis Recti

Additional Tips and Treatments for Diastasis Recti

Lifestyle Changes and Precautions

  • Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities that strain the abdomen.
  • Practice good posture to maintain a neutral position and reduce stress on the abdominal region.
  • Wear a supportive abdominal binder if recommended by your health care provider to help manage abdominal separation and address pelvic floor muscle issues, as well as pelvic pain.

Professional Treatments and When to Seek Help

If you’re not seeing improvement with exercise alone, consider seeking help from a physical therapist. They can provide tailored exercises and treatments to aid in your healing process and address issues such as abdominal muscle separation.

How to Prevent Diastasis Recti in the Future

  • Maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.
  • Perform gentle functional core exercises during pregnancy, as recommended by your health care provider, to support the abdominis during pregnancy and deep core stability exercises. These exercises can be particularly beneficial in the months postpartum and help manage changes in abdominal pressure.
  • Avoid heavy lifting and high-impact activities postpartum.

The Role of Continuous Motion Physical Therapy in Your Recovery

At Continuous Motion Physical Therapy, we specialize in helping individuals recover from diastasis recti. Our team of experts can create a personalized treatment plan to enhance your entire core strength, improve your posture, and address pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. We focus on managing pubic bone alignment and pelvic pain to ensure effective recovery. We focus on proper technique and lumbopelvic pain management to ensure effective recovery. We offer a comprehensive approach, combining targeted exercises, lifestyle modifications, and professional diastasis recti treatments to support your recovery journey.

Conclusion

Diastasis recti can be managed and improved with the right exercises and professional support. Incorporating these seven effective functional core exercises into your routine as part of a core stability exercise program can aid in healing and strengthening your abdominal muscles. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program, and consider seeking professional help if needed. Continuous Motion Physical Therapy is here to support you every step of the way.

FAQs About Diastasis Recti Exercises

Can diastasis recti be corrected with exercise?

Yes, targeted core-strengthening exercises can improve and sometimes correct diastasis recti.

What is the fastest way to fix diastasis recti?

The fastest way to fix diastasis recti is through a combination of targeted exercises, proper posture, and professional treatments if necessary.

How long does it take to close diastasis recti with exercise?

The time it takes to close diastasis recti with exercise varies depending on the severity of the condition and individual factors. Consistent training and professional guidance can speed up the process.

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Dr. Cameron Moore

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Dr. Peyton Oules, PT, DPT Cert. DN

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Dr. Peyton Oules, physical therapist, is a Brewster, Washington native who grew up as a small-town athlete. During her high school sports career, she suffered from two ACL injuries which led her to pursue a career in physical therapy. 

She began her studies by earning her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, Pre-PT at Eastern Washington University.  During her undergraduate studies, she spent much of her time playing volleyball and coaching at the high school level.  Dr. Oules continued her education to earn her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in Goodyear, Arizona.While in school, Dr. Oules became Certified in both Dry Needling and Myofascial Cupping.

Part of her clinical training included international travel to Sydney, Australia where she expanded her orthopedic skill set and had the opportunity to provide treatment for the athletes from the 2023 World Underwater Hockey Championships.

During her doctorate level studies, Dr. Oules learned the importance in making movement a lifestyle. She has a passion for sharing this knowledge with the community and getting her clients back to the activities they love.

Outside of the clinic Dr. Oules enjoys CrossFit®, hiking, traveling, and spending time outdoors with her dog, Rue. Some of her favorite adventures to date include hiking parts of the Grand Canyon and running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Sydney 10k!

Dr. Peyton Oules’ Credentials:
•           Physical Therapist (PT)
•           Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
•           Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)

Dr. Khristian McGinley, PT, DPT Cert. DN

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Dr. Khristian McGinley, physical therapist, grew up here in Phoenix, as a competitive softball player with a longtime passion for health and wellness. After sustaining an elbow injury in high school and attending PT herself, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career helping people recover from injuries and getting back to doing what they love. She eventually received her B.S in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona in 2013, then earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in 2017.

Dr. McGinley began her career with a passion in pediatrics and orthopedics, undergoing coursework to treat diagnoses such as torticollis, developmental delay, and toe walking. She also became certified in Dry Needling in 2017, and since then has been additionally trained in Dry Needling for Pelvic Rehabilitation. After the challenging birth of her first child, she developed a passion for treating the pregnant and postpartum population. She became specialty training in Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation in 2021 and since then has focused her practice on helping moms achieve pain free pregnancy, peaceful childbirth, and complete postpartum recovery. She specializes in diagnoses such as urinary incontinence, diastases recti, pelvic organ prolapse, and pelvic pain.

Outside of the clinic, Dr. McGinley enjoys hiking, running, camping, weight lifting, and playing slow pitch softball. She loves spending as much time as she can outside with her husband and two children.

Dr. Khristian McGinley’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Specialty-trained in Pelvic Floor Therapy

Dr. Meredith Wall, PT, DPT FAFS, Cert. DN

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Dr. Meredith Wall, physical therapist, grew up as a competitive athlete in basketball, gymnastics, soccer and volleyball. After sustaining an ankle injury and going to rehab as a young athlete, she instantly fell in love with learning about sports injuries and rehabilitation. This led her to major in Exercises Science at Grand Valley State University. After she graduated in 2010, she immediately pursued physical therapy to ultimately achieve her lifelong goals of becoming a physical therapist. She earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Grand Valley State University in 2013, graduating as a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society recognizing individuals with outstanding GPA in a college graduate program.

Dr. Wall continued her educational pathway through the Gray Institute receiving a fellowship in Applied Functional Science (FAFS). A FAFS is only obtained by a select number of practitioners, who deliver optimal care through the diagnosis and treatment of functional human movement. She also became Certified in Dry Needling (Cert. DN) in 2017, is trained in the McKenzie Method to treat spinal pain, and most recently has become specialized in Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation. This specialty area allows her to treat women across the lifespan dealing with incontinence, diastasis recti, pelvic pain, and pain during or after pregnancy.

Dr. Wall’s special interests include diagnosing and treating active patients across the lifespan to help them return to optimal function. In her spare time, she enjoys Crossfit®, running, coaching youth sports, and traveling with her husband and three sons.

Dr. Meredith Wall’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Specialty-trained in Pelvic Floor Therapy

Dr. Cameron Moore, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, CSCS, Dip. Osteopractic

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Dr. Cameron Moore, physical therapist and co-owner, has always been very active with sports and activities starting with competitive motocross racing up to a semi-professional level and being a scholarship athlete in track and field competing at the division 1 level in college at Eastern Washington University in the triple jump. Cameron became interested in the profession of physical therapy after having knee surgery in high school and seeing the inter-workings of the profession. He pursued his bachelors degree in Exercise Science before moving to Phoenix to earn his Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) from Franklin Pierce University.

He then began specialization courses for spinal manipulation (Spinal Manipulation Institute) and dry needling (Dry Needling Institute). This lead Cameron in to becoming a Fellow of the American Academy of Manual Physical Therapist (FAAOMPT) through the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy (AAMT) and earned a Diploma of Osteopractic®, a distinction and training that only a small percentage of physical therapist have completed.

Dr. Moore continues to be very involved with motocross riding, Crossfit®, Olympic weight lifting, running and an overall active lifestyle with his Wife (Michelle) and their Vizsla (Parker).

Dr. Cameron Moore’s Credentials

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Certified in Dry Needling (Cert DN)
  • Certified in Spinal Manipulation (Cert SMT)
  • Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
  • Diploma in Osteopractic® (Dip Osteopractic)
  • Fellow Of The American Academy Of Manual Physical Therapist (FAAOMPT)
  • American Academy of Manipulative Therapy Fellow (AAMT)
  • Crossfit® Level 1 Certified (CF-L1)
  • Crossfit® Mobility Certified
  • USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach

Dr. Michelle Moore, PT, DPT FAAOMPT, Dip. Osteopractic

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Dr. Michelle Moore, physical therapist and co-owner, grew up as a competitive gymnast and developed a passion for healthy living from a young age. Her collegiate studies in Health Education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and athletic background influenced her to combine her passions and pursue a career in physical therapy. She earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in 2013.

Dr. Moore continued her educational pathway through the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy where she earned her Diploma Osteopractic® (Dip. Osteopractic) and became Certified in Dry Needling (Cert. DN), and Spinal Manipulative Therapy (Cert. SMT). From 2016-2017 Dr. Moore completed the rigorous coursework to become a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (FAAOMPT), a distinction held by only a fraction of the profession.

Dr. Moore’s special interests include treating active individuals and returning them to the activities that they love. In her spare time she enjoys Crossfit®, Olympic Weightlifting, mountain biking, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Cameron, and dog, Parker.

Dr. Michelle Moore’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Fellow of American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT)
  • Diploma in Osteopractic® (Dip. Osteopractic)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Certified Spinal Manipulative Therapy (Cert. SMT)
  • Crossfit® Mobility Certified