When you are postpartum and you start googling how to get back into fitness, most of what you see will tell you that you shouldn’t do sit-ups or very much core work – especially if you have diastasis recti. You’ll find entire lists of exercises that you “shouldn’t do”. But, is there a better way? I would argue that there is. There is a better way that does not create so much fear and worry.
Why Should You Do Core Work?
During pregnancy and delivery, you lose your connection with your core. You have to learn to re-establish that mind-body connection. How can you do that without actually engaging with your core and exercising it? Now, you don’t want to just jump into doing super intense core work. But even in the early days and weeks postpartum, you should be doing some gentle core exercises in order to rebuild your connection with your core.
But What About Diastasis Recti?
There is so much fearmongering surrounding diastasis recti. If you carry a baby to full-term, you will have a diastasis, that’s totally normal. How your diastasis heals post-delivery changes from woman to woman. There is a lot of science around this, but to simplify, a lot of it comes down to genetics. Some people are naturally more “elastic” than others and recover quicker from pregnancy as far as a diastasis goes. Having a few finger separation is very common and quite often can be healed through exercise.
Does the Finger Gap Matter?
You’ll often hear that you can measure your diastasis with a number of fingers and if you have a two-fingers or less separation, then you have healed your diastasis. However, practically speaking, this isn’t the case! You can have a 3 or 4 finger separation and if you can generate tension, then your core will be very functional! The finger gap doesn’t matter – the amount of tension you can generate matters much more.
How Can I Learn to Generate Tension?
You learn to generate tension through exercise! Gently learning how to connect to your pelvic floor and abdominals early postpartum and then slowly easing into core exercise can help to close your gap but will certainly help you learn to generate tension and functionality. As a mom, you need to be able to perform optimally in order to keep up with your kids. Having a strong core is the foundation!