Diastasis Recti Exercises – From a Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Diastasis Recti Exercises

Diastasis Recti is a condition where the abdominal muscles separate due to increased pressure on the ligament that holds them together.

One primary cause of this condition is pregnancy, though it can also affect individuals who are overweight. This separation leads to a bulge in the middle of the abdomen, which can be concerning and often requires specific exercises to correct.

Effective treatment includes exercises designed to strengthen the deeper abdominal muscles, particularly the transverse abdominis.

By engaging this muscle, the abdomen can be pulled inward, reducing the separation and promoting healing. Following a well-structured exercise progression under the guidance of a healthcare professional can significantly improve this condition.

Key Takeaways

  • Diastasis Recti is the separation of abdominal muscles.
  • Effective exercises focus on the transverse abdominis.
  • Consultation with a doctor is crucial before starting any exercises.

Diastasis Recti Explained

Structure of the Abdominal Wall

The abdominal wall consists of four muscle layers. The outermost layer is the rectus abdominis, commonly known as the six-pack muscle. This muscle stretches from the rib cage down to the pelvis and is split into two halves joined in the middle by a ligament.

What Diastasis Recti Is

Diastasis recti refers to the separation of the two halves of the rectus abdominis muscle. This separation occurs when the ligament connecting them is stretched too much or even torn.

Causes of Diastasis Recti

Several factors can place stress on the ligament in the abdominal wall. Pregnancy and the postpartum period can lead to diastasis recti, as the abdomen stretches to accommodate the growing baby. Being overweight can also exert extra pressure on the abdominal muscles, leading to this condition.

Diagnosing Abdominal Muscle Separation

How to Check for Abdominal Muscle Separation

To check if someone has separated abdominal muscles, they should lie down on their back with their knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then, they should lift their head and shoulders slightly off the ground as if they are doing a crunch.

Using their fingers, they can feel along the midline of their abdomen, starting just above the belly button and moving up towards the rib cage. If they feel a gap or separation, it indicates the presence of the condition.

Evaluating the Severity of Separation

Measuring the width and depth of the separation can help determine its severity. Placing fingers horizontally across the midline gap and feeling how many fingers fit into the space can give a measure of the width.

Depth is assessed by pressing the fingers down into the gap to feel how deep it goes. This assessment helps in understanding the level of separation and planning the appropriate exercises to address it.

Exercise Progression for Recovery

Starting with Exercise Steps

Begin with gentle movements to activate the deep core muscles.

Lie on your back and make sure your hips and spine are positioned properly. Rock your hips backward and press your spine down into the floor. This eliminates any space under your back.

Flatten your back, pull in your belly button, and tighten your stomach. Hold this contraction for 3-5 seconds, making sure to breathe normally. Repeat this for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. When this becomes easy, you're ready to move to the next phase.

Moving On to Leg Movements

Once you're comfortable with the initial steps, it's time to add leg movements.

With your back flat and stomach tight, lift one knee at a time towards your hand, and then lower it back down. Alternate knees, making sure to maintain the contraction and keep your back flat. Aim for 10 repetitions per leg, completing 3 sets.

Adding More Challenge with Torque Movements

To increase the difficulty, extend your leg away from your body while maintaining the core contraction.

Make sure to keep your back flat and belly button pulled in. The principles of torque make this a more challenging exercise. Work towards 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each leg.

Safety Tips and Key Points

Consulting with a Doctor

Before beginning any exercise routine, especially for diastasis recti, it is crucial to get approval from a healthcare professional.

Waiting until at least six weeks after giving birth is often recommended. It is important to get a thumbs-up from your doctor before starting any new exercises to prevent worsening the condition.

Right Time to Begin Exercises

Ensuring the right timing for starting exercises is essential. For many people, waiting until about six weeks postpartum is considered safe.

Starting exercises too soon or too aggressively may worsen diastasis recti. A well-timed and gradual exercise plan can aid in proper recovery.

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