If you’ve ever had a baby, you’ve probably heard of it, but I’m guessing, may not be sure exactly what it is. It’s one of those words that pre & post exercise specialists, physical therapists, & OBGYNS like to throw around. Why? I always like to mention it when it comes to the “Dos & Don’ts of Pregnancy” because most people don’t know anything about it and are doing core exercises the wrong way, which can potentially exasperate or cause a diastasis (DR). The DR itself may not actually effect you during pregnancy, but in post you will no doubt see it and maybe even feel it. If you are someone who is still complaining about your “Mummy Tummy,” you may want to listen a little more carefully.
Because I specialize in pre and postnatal, I’m very conscious (probably overly conscious) about DR. Recovery from pregnancy is hard enough and a DR can make returning to a flat stomach that much harder and take that much longer. So when I discovered a potential DR during my second pregnancy, you can imagine I was surprised and not very happy. So what did I do? I took precautions and documented it for myself and you all, so you can help discover yours early on like me.
So before we get into anything else, what exactly is DR? Diastasis Recti is the separation of the outer most abdominals (rectus), whose job is to help support your back and organs.
How do you figure out if you have one? There are a few ways. The most common way is what I call “the finger test,” which I demonstrate in this video. The other sign is that you’ll see your stomach get pointy, see the pictures above, like a football when you go to lie down or when you are in plank.
What can I do to prevent it? Use your abdominals correctly and back off on exercises that can possibly make it worse! When you’re pregnant you don’t need to be developing your abs. You need to be working from the inside out, which means using the pelvic floor and the TVA (Transverse Abdominus), so that you can help prevent back problems, build strength to help you push during labor, and give you a good support system for an easier recovery. By doing crunches incorrectly, which many people do, you can actually encourage a diastasis recti. So it’s not the crunches themselves that cause DR but rather doing them incorrectly can make it worse. This is why most professionals will suggest NOT doing crunches or twisting actions during pregnancy. Also, depending on your strength, training technique and size or your baby, plank work may also exasperate it. I found that modifying planks or not doing them at all was the best solution for me during this past pregnancy. I highly encourage you to take a look at my video to view an exercise you can do to help, if you find DR during pregnancy or soon after.
Please, if you have any questions about DR, or anything else regarding pre & post pregnancy, do not hesitate to contact me.
By: Sarah Haley