The term “diastasis recti” or DR (as I’ll refer to it) has become somewhat of a hot topic in the mommy world recently. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding DR, the affects it has on the body, as well as how it affects exercise both during pregnancy and postpartum. Today, I want to discuss how DR impacts exercise during the perinatal period and dispel some of the fear that surrounds this topic.
1. You CAN'T prevent DR
Lots of programs that you see out there in the fitness world tout the prevention of diastasis recti. The truth is, if you carry your baby to full term, you will have a diastasis. Period. What your body has to do and how it has to stretch to accommodate baby makes it physiologically impossible for those muscles not to separate. So, if you see a program out there promising that they can prevent you from getting DR – steer clear!
2. You CAN exacerbate DR
Even though DR can’t be prevented when carrying to full-term, there are definitely things that you can do to exacerbate or put additional stress onto an already stressed system. For example, in the late stages of pregnancy, I often limit or completely eliminate two-armed overhead movements for my clients. When you’re in an overhead position like this, it’s hard to keep the rib cage down and a lot of your intra-abdominal pressure is forced straight out into the linea alba, putting a lot of pressure there. Can it be done? Yes. Should it be done? In most cases, probably not.
3. You CAN heal DR - The linea alba is the tissue that runs down the middle of your abdomen and separates those “6-pack” muscles. This is the tissue that gets incredibly stretched during pregnancy and can be problematic when healing postpartum. A lot of healing comes down to genetics. Some people have more elasticity in their tissues and have little problem with their “gap” closing. Some women’s “gap” doesn’t close as naturally and it takes a little bit more work. And the “gap” isn’t what matters here. What you want to be able to do is generate tension in that tissue. The way we do that is by strengthening the muscles around that tissue.
If you’re worried that you have a diastasis, there’s no need to be overly worried or afraid! There is a lot of healing that can be done with exercises right from the comfort of your home! Be on the lookout for some great diastasis recti friendly workouts this week!