Diastasis recti refers to the formation of a gap between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle (your six pack muscles). It is important to note that this is a 100% normal occurrence during pregnancy as this muscle is stretched out to accommodate the growing fetus. It is also normal for this to remain present for a period of time postpartum. Some studies show as many as 50-55% of women having continued diastasis recti at 6 weeks postpartum. But if we want to rebuild our fitness postpartum understanding diastasis recti is an important concept.
When we return to any exercise postpartum there are a few things we want to look for to ensure we aren’t overdoing things. Those include leaking, heaviness of the vagina, pain with sex, and coning / doming.
The coning/doming is what is most related to the separation of the abdominal muscles with diastasis recti. This small protrusion is a sign of abdominal pressure being higher than the abdominal wall is ready for. When we see coning/doming we will typically alter an exercise or slightly decrease the intensity of exercise to a level at which pressures can be better controlled.
For those with coning / doming issues with exercises, backing down our abdominal strength exercises to where we are regaining control is a great start. Here are 3 drills to do that:
9090 Breathing with Abdominal Contractions
Hollow Body Holds
Demonstrated below are the typical hollow body hold we would see an athlete in a CrossFit class do. For the postpartum athlete, we will work on developing control of all abdominal muscles. So in this case, I’ll have women hold one hand on their core to feel for their six pack muscles. During hollow holds here we’ll find the hardest version we can handle without the six-pack muscles protruding above the other abdominal muscles.
Because many of the women we treat are getting back to running or functional fitness we also employ lots of weighted carries to challenge the body as an entire unit. Again, watching for coning/doming during these exercises.
If you are dealing with persistent diastasis recti issues we’d love to game plan a long term solution for you! Schedule and appointment for an assessment and treatment plan! Or consider joining our group exericise class for postpartum women, Mom Strong!