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What is Diastasis Recti and can Pilates help?

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

Diastisis Recti is a separation of the two sides of the rectus abodminis muscle. According to Pilates Anytime, "approximately 60% of postpartum moms experience diastasis recti, but most expecting moms don't realize their abdominals are separating until after the baby arrives."

It is sometimes difficult to tell that the muscles are separating during pregnancy because the skin gets stretched out as the belly grows. The lines alba, a strong connective tissue's that connects down the center of the rectus abdominis begins to tear or becomes very weak. There is also pressure from the abdominal area due to pregnancy that causes the area to become stretched out. Pilates is beneficial for helping to strengthen the deeper transverse abdominis region, which helps to support the lower back and pelvic floor area and can also help heal the diastisis. Beginning an postpartum exercise routine can help, but if the diastisis is severe, surgery may be needed. Always check with your doctor before starting to exercise after giving birth. Avoid exercises that involve forward flexion (eg. crunches, sit-ups) because it puts strain on the rectus abdominis muscles.

What are safe exercises to strengthen the core with a diastisis recti?

1.Abdominal Bracing: Lay on your back with knees bent and hip width apart. Inhale, and as you exhale draw your navel to your spine, engaging the muscles in the deep core. (2-3 sets of 10 reps)

2. Marching: Lay on your back with knees bent and feet hip width distance apart Inhale and as you exhale bring your right leg up to 90 degrees keeping pelvis level and abs braced. Alternate with the left leg. (2-3 sets of 10 reps)

3. Toe dips: same position as #2 but with both legs in tabletop. Alternate dipping one toe at a time towards the floor. Keep the transverse abdominis engaged and pelvis level (2-3 sets of 10 reps)

4. Bird Dog: Begin in all fours position. Inhale and on your exhale and extend right arm and left leg. Keep abdominals engaged and hips level. Alternate each side 2-3 sets of 10 reps each.


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