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Core Connection: How to Help Your Diastasis Recti Recover

Navigating postnatal recovery, especially when dealing with diastasis recti, can feel like going down a rabbit hole. Choosing the right exercises to manage diastasis recti can be challenging due to the limited nature of research in this area. If you would like to learn more about diastasis, click here.

Whether you’re taking control of your postpartum recovery or trusting your women’s health physiotherapist, consider the following key points. Note that these practices are beneficial after both vaginal delivery and c-section.

1/ ACTIVATE YOUR DEEP CORE SYSTEM FIRST

Activate your deep core system first, as it forms the stable foundation for diastasis recovery. The deep core system includes muscles like the transverse abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm, and pelvic floor muscles working together to support movement and maintain bodily functions such as continence.

2/ RIBS OVER HIPS

This position allows the deep core system to work optimally, which is beneficial when standing, especially while holding your baby. Muscles function best in mid-range, neither too bunched up nor too stretched.

Try imagining an invisible line connecting your breastbone to your pubic bone. This may require you to perform some pelvic tilts to find the position that works for you. Then, slowly shift to stand with ribs over your hips. Notice which position makes it easier to connect with your abdominal muscles. See how it feels and let me know how this works out for you.

3/ BLOW BEFORE YOU GO

Exert effort (lifting baby, stroller, car seat, weights, or even your partner – just kidding!) and time with an exhalation. This pre-activates your core muscles, minimising downward stresses on the recovering pelvic floor or c-section scar and abdominal muscles.

4/ STOP STRAINING

Women’s health physiotherapists would tell you to stop straining and focus on proper breathing. Straining during bowel movements, urination, lifting, exercising or moving is not recommended for pelvic floor and diastasis recovery as it increases intra-abdominal pressure and places undue stress on the body. If you find it challenging to go about daily activities without straining, let’s talk about it.

5/ LOOK OUT FOR SIGNS

  • Pay attention to the following signs during diastasis recti rehabilitation:
    • Breath-holding: Holding your breath during exercises can indicate improper technique or perhaps is a sign that the exercise you are doing is too challenging. Try regressing or focusing on technique.
    • Tenting/Coning/Doming/Bulging: It’s important to watch out for excessive signs during diastasis recti exercises. It’s ok to have some tenting or doming particularly when the technique is good.
    • Pelvic floor dysfunction: Look for symptoms such as pelvic pain, pressure, heaviness, or leaking, which may indicate issues technique, load or with pelvic floor function.

    Rehabilitating diastasis recti should not result in these signs unless advised by a medical professional or women’s health physiotherapist. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop, correct your technique or adjust your load. If symptoms still persist, consult our team before proceeding further.

6/ LET IT OUT

 

While sucking in your tummy for aesthetic purposes may result in a desired appearance, it could compromise the optimal functioning of your abdominal wall and potentially contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction. Muscles are layered, with the deep core system at the skeleton and larger movement muscles layered on top. The deep core system is designed for subconscious, sustained activity, while the larger muscles are meant for conscious, high-effort, short bursts. Sucking in your tummy may result in over-recruitment of superficial muscles rather than engaging the deep core system, emphasising the importance of working from the inside out.

 

7/ LOAD, LOAD ,LOAD!

Diastasis recovery extends beyond activating your deep core system. To achieve functional gains for postpartum exercise or new life challenges, including having more kids, you need to introduce loading. Collagen formation and reorganisation require the load to bring about change. Experiment with different positions, adjust weights or resistance, vary the number of reps, and make exercises functional. No point in practising 400m runs at training when the final race is a 100m sprint, right?

8/ CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Setting realistic goals that align with your lifestyle will contribute to a positive postnatal recovery. It’s never too late to address diastasis concerns.

A parting note…

There is no magical exercise. The best exercise is one that allows for the generation of optimal tension.

If you feel like you could benefit from specialised guidance and treatment for your diastasis recti recovery, please call or WhatsApp us at 9780 7274, or email us at help@embracephysio.sg and let’s discuss what works best for you.

Feel free to look through our website, where you can learn about other women’s health conditions we treat. This is a safe space where we can discuss how we can help you with physiotherapy.

Note: While I am a physiotherapist, I am not your personal physiotherapist. The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as personal medical advice.

References:

  1. https://www.embracephysio.sg/what-is-a-womans-pelvic-floor/
  2. https://www.embracephysio.sg/what-you-need-to-know-about-diastasis-recti-in-women
  3. https://mamastefit.com/understanding-coning-what-is-it-and-how-to-fix-it/
  4. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23908-lordosis
  5. https://mamastefit.com/diastasis-healing-plateauing-increase-the-demand/
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