30 Jan 5 Things to Avoid if You Have Diastasis Recti
I tried so hard to avoid diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) when I was pregnant with my daughter, but alas, after an unplanned c-section, I came out the other end with a two finger-wide, one knuckle deep gap. Fellow diastasis mamas will know that that’s a pretty mild separation and is even considered normal by some doctors and physical therapists. As someone who has always had a very flat stomach though, it’s anything but normal.
Since I’ve been on the journey to close the gap and flatten my abs, I’ve learned quite a few things, including some key moves to avoid if you have diastasis recti. Of course, I’m not a physical therapist or a doctor, so always seek medical advice and talk to your doctor if you have questions; these are simply some things I’ve learned along the way:
Crunches and sit ups
This is one of the most common no-no’s for people with diastasis. When you do crunches and sit ups, your internal organs put a lot of pressure on the connective tissue that holds your abs together. Until you regain enough strength and function to limit this pressure, avoid traditional crunching movements, which even includes daily motions like sitting up out of bed.
Yoga moves like wheel or upward dog can feel really good, especially if your back is very tight from pregnancy, but they can put a lot of pressure on your already weakened connective tissue between your abs. You want to avoid excessively stretching this tissue with a backbend so you don’t inadvertently weaken it further.
Holding your child with poor posture
Of course you can still hold your child, but you want to avoid the typical hip flung out to the side, poor posture hold. When holding your kids, try your best to hold them with your arm muscles. My daughter is currently 22 pounds–I know this isn’t always possible, but it’s something to be cognizant of, especially since we mamas hold our kids a lot.
When your core is weakened, it’s hard to do planks correctly because they require so much of your core to fire. A good alternative is to start with a plank against the wall, then move to planks with your hands on a chair or the couch, then planks on your knees, until you can finally try a traditional plank again.
Anything that causes doming or bulging
Now here’s where I’m going to go against some of the advice I gave above. If you can do any of the above moves with proper core engagement, it’s actually safe to complete those moves. The problem is that when you have diastasis recti, it’s hard to have proper engagement. Doming and bulging refers to the lump you’ll see emerge on your stomach when you try to do a move without engaging properly. If you see your stomach form a bread loaf shape or you see a bulge coming out of the midline of your stomach, that means you’re putting pressure on the connective tissue and you should stop the move.
Luckily for those of us who have diastasis recti, there are some things we can do to help. Always consult your physician if you have specific questions.