Best 12 Min Workout for Diastasis Recti (with instructions)

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Sally brings attention to an essential aspect of prenatal and postnatal fitness—diastasis recti. This condition affects up to 60 percent of women during or after pregnancy, with 35 percent still experiencing it six months postpartum. Diastasis recti occurs when abdominal muscles separate, causing the belly to appear as if it's still pregnant.

In this video, Sally guides viewers through a series of exercises designed to heal diastasis recti. She emphasizes the importance of avoiding certain movements, such as crunches, sit-ups, and planks, that might strain the affected muscles further. Instead, the focus is on strengthening the transverse abdominis and obliques, which support the healing process. The workout is suitable for those newly cleared for light exercise, as well as for those who have been training their core for a while.

Key Takeaways

  • Diastasis recti is common in postpartum women.
  • Specific core exercises help in healing the condition.
  • Avoid exercises that stress the rectus abdominis.

Understanding Diastasis Recti

Impacts on Postpartum Recovery

Up to 60 percent of women may experience a separation of their abdominal muscles during pregnancy or after giving birth. This condition, known as diastasis recti, can affect the recovery process after childbirth. About 35 percent of women still deal with this issue six months postpartum. If the belly looks like it still carries a baby months after delivery, diastasis recti might be the reason. Addressing this condition with appropriate exercises is crucial for healing.

Identifying Abdominal Muscle Types

The abdominal area is made up of different types of muscles. These include:

  • Rectus Abdominis: Often called the six-pack muscle, this muscle stretches when diastasis recti occurs.
  • Transverse Abdominis: This is the deepest layer of abdominal muscles.
  • Obliques: These are the side abdominal muscles, which support overall core strength.

Examining the Rectus Abdominis and Ab Separation

The rectus abdominis runs vertically along the front of the abdomen. It is the muscle most affected by diastasis recti. Due to the separation, it’s important to avoid exercises like crunches, sit-ups, and planks that put additional strain on it. Giving this muscle time to heal without extra stress is key.

Focusing on the Transverse Abdominis and Obliques

Strengthening the transverse abdominis and oblique muscles can aid in supporting the healing process of the rectus abdominis. These muscles help provide support and stability to the core area. Core exercises focusing on these muscles can be beneficial, as they help bring the abdominal area back together and promote overall core strength without overloading the already stretched rectus abdominis.

By focusing on these specific muscles, new mothers can work towards a stronger, more stable core, aiding in the recovery from diastasis recti.

Exercise Guidelines

Doctor’s Clearance and Preparation

Before beginning any workout routine, it's important to get approval from a medical professional. Once you're cleared for light exercises, you can start focusing on rebuilding strength, especially in your core. Begin with gentle movements to avoid stressing the muscles further.

Exercises to Avoid for Diastasis Recti

Certain exercises should be avoided when dealing with diastasis recti to prevent further stress on the abdominal muscles:

  • No Crunches
  • No Sit-Ups
  • No Planks

Instead, focus on exercises that strengthen the transverse abdominis and the internal and external obliques. This approach provides the necessary support while allowing the rectus abdominis to heal.

Workout Structure and Execution

Instructions for Each Exercise

Begin on a mat, lying on your back. Bend your legs and press your back into the mat. Activate your core while maintaining your breath.

  1. Leg Lift Exercise:
    • Standard Version: Lift your heels, then raise one leg towards your chest and lower it back down. Repeat on the other side.
    • Advanced Version: Extend your arms behind your head without letting them touch the floor.
  2. Heel Lift and Bottom Raise:
    • Standard Version: Inhale deeply. Exhale while lifting your bottom, engaging your core. Lower gently and repeat.
    • Advanced Version: Keep heels lifted throughout the exercise.
  3. Leg Lowering with Core Activation:
    • Standard Version: Raise your legs to a 90-degree angle. Lower one leg and bring it back up, then repeat with the other leg.
    • Advanced Version: Tap both toes on the ground at the same time.
  4. Opposite Arm and Leg Extension:
    • Standard Version: Lift legs to a 90-degree angle with arms straight up. Lower one leg while the opposite arm extends overhead.
    • Advanced Version: Extend both legs fully while maintaining core stability.
  5. Single-Lee Lift and Extension:
    • Standard Version: Lift one leg towards the chest, extend, and lower. Repeat on the other side.
    • Advanced Version: Keep your leg extended throughout the exercise.
  6. Side Plank:
    • Standard Version: Prop yourself up on an elbow with the bottom leg bent. Extend the top leg for balance.
    • Advanced Version: Extend both legs fully for balance support.
  7. Tabletop Position with Arm and Leg Reach:
    • Standard Version: From the tabletop position, alternate extending the opposite arm and leg slightly off the ground.
    • Advanced Version: Lift both arm and leg parallel to the floor.

Suggested Exercise Progressions

Training the core muscles correctly is key to healing diastasis recti. Focus on the following:

  1. Engage Transverse Abdominis and Obliques: Strengthen the deep abdominal muscles without stressing the six-pack muscle.
  2. Gradual Increase in Difficulty: Start with standard versions of exercises if you are new to training. Increase to advanced versions as your core becomes stronger.

    Table for Exercise Progressions:
ExerciseStandard VersionAdvanced Version
Leg LiftHeel lift, one leg at a timeArms extended overhead
Bottom RaiseBottom lift with core engagementHeels lifted
Core ActivationLeg lower one at a timeTap both toes simultaneously
Arm and Leg ExtensionSmall liftsParallel lift
Single Leg LiftLift and extendLeg extended throughout
Side PlankBottom leg bent, top extendedBoth legs extended
Tabletop ReachSmall reachParallel arm and leg

Following these structured exercises and gradually progressing through variations ensures safe and effective healing of diastasis recti.

Core Workout Demonstrations

Getting into Position and Starting the Movements

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Engage your core by pressing your lower back into the mat. Lift your heels just off the ground, then lift one leg, bringing your knee towards your chest. Lower it back down and repeat on the other side. For an added challenge, extend your arms overhead without touching the floor.

Activating Core Muscles and Breathing Correctly

Inhale deeply. On the exhale, lift your hips off the mat while pulling your belly button in. Squeeze your core and then slowly lower your hips. To increase the difficulty, keep your heels lifted during the exercise. Remember to breathe consistently throughout.

Leg Raises and Heel Taps

Start with your legs up at a 90-degree angle while lying on your back. Lower one leg towards the floor, then bring it back up, and do the same with the other leg. For a greater challenge, try tapping both toes at the same time. Keep your back pressed into the mat and continue breathing.

Engaging Abs and Glutes with Effective Exercises

In a tabletop position, extend one leg while keeping the other knee bent. Lift the extended leg off the floor, bring the knee towards your chest, then extend it back out and lower it. Repeat on one side, then switch to the other side. For more intensity, keep the leg extended the whole time. Ensure your back stays pressed into the mat and your core is engaged.

Advanced Leg and Arm Extensions

Remain in the tabletop position with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Reach your right arm forward while extending your left leg back, lifting them slightly off the ground. Then switch to the other side. For a more difficult version, lift your arm and leg so they are parallel to the floor. Keep your hips level and your core engaged.

Variations of Side Plank and Hip Lifts

Roll to your side and support yourself on one elbow. Keep the bottom knee bent and the top leg extended. Hold this side plank position, making sure your back and hips are in a straight line. If you want an increased challenge, extend both legs. Lower your hips lightly towards the floor and then lift them back up. Switch sides and repeat, keeping form and breathing steady.

Final Thoughts and Future Actions

Final Words and Motivation

Keeping up with workouts can be rewarding, especially when progress is seen over time. Remember, the journey to healing diastasis recti takes time and persistence. Stick to your routine and celebrate the small milestones.

Call to Action and Subscription

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Additional Resources


  • Sally's Website: For a structured 8-week postnatal fitness program and detailed guides on healing diastasis recti. [Link to website]


  • Self-Test for Diastasis Recti: Learn how to determine if you have abdominal separation. [Link to video]
  • Workout Videos: Check out more exercises focused on healing and strengthening core muscles. [Link to channel]


  • Postnatal Fitness Guides: Titles and authors that offer in-depth information and exercises designed for postnatal fitness.


  • Understanding Diastasis Recti: Articles that delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatments available for diastasis recti.
  • Postpartum Recovery: Tips and advice for overall postpartum health and fitness.


  • Fitness Trackers: Apps that track physical activity, offering special features for postnatal workouts.

Feel free to explore these resources to support your journey to recovery and fitness.

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