If you’re reading this blog post, you probably have significant abdominal separation after pregnancy. And now you’re wondering - how do I heal diastasis recti?
If we are meeting for the first time - hi! Welcome to Vibrant Mama Wellness! My name is Megan, and I am a pre and postnatal personal trainer. I am certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, with a specialization in pre+postnatal fitness through PROnatal fitness. I am a mom of 1, and became interested in pre + postnatal fitness as I was going through my own pregnancy journey!
(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. This blog post is based on my own research and experience - please consult a medical professional before starting or making any changes to your fitness regime).
As I talked about in my post earlier this week, Diastasis recti (DR) is the partial or complete separation of the rectus abdominis (what many people refer to as the “six-pack” muscles). These two muscles run from your sternum to your pubic bone, and are connected in the middle by a tissue called the linea alba. Anyone can develop diastasis recti, but it is most common during pregnancy.
The good news is that with proper breathing techniques and safe exercises, you can heal diastasis recti without surgery (in most cases).
The key in healing DR is to strengthen your transverse abdominis (TA), which is the deepest layer of abdominal muscles. Unlike the rectus abdominis that runs vertically, the TA runs horizontally (like a natural corset), providing stability to the core and supporting the internal organs. By strengthening your TA, it will help close the gap between the rectus abdominis and strengthen the tension of the linea alba (refer to this post to learn more about the specifics of diastasis recti!)
The technique I teach my clients is called “360 breathing.” It is just like it sounds, meaning when you inhale, you are allowing the breath to expand your ribcage 360 degrees. Many people make the mistake of breathing solely in their chest cavity, or just belly breathing - but 360 breathing ensures that you are using your diaphragm, transverse abdominis, and pelvic floor in tandem to correctly to take in a deep breath.
To practice this, put your hands on your ribcage (four fingers in front and thumb on back). Take a deep inhale and feel your ribcage expand!
Now the most important part is when you breathe OUT. Keep your hands on your ribcage, and as you exhale, feel your ribcage close 360 degrees. As your ribcage is closing, pull your abs in and up. Another cuing mistake a lot of trainers make is telling their clients to pull their navel to the spine. This often results in the transverse abdominis not being engaged properly, and ultimately creating extra intra-abdominal pressure.
Once you’ve mastered this breathing practice, it is important to integrate it into all of your workouts! When you exhale on the effort, you are engaging that transverse abdominis, and decreasing any extra intra abdominal pressure (which could make diastasis worse).
While this is a very simplified way of explaining how to breathe to help heal diastasis recti, I encourage you to reach out to a professional to get a personalized program based on your situation and your needs. I am currently taking 1:1 clients for virtual 1:1 personal training, and if that is something you are interested in, please fill out this form and I will be in touch!
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Disclaimer: This blog does not serve as medical advice. Please consult your medical provider before starting a new fitness routine. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.