Diastasis Recti – Why Post-Pregnancy Exercising Can Cause More Damage

When a woman gets pregnant, the focus of every doctor appointment is obviously the health of the baby and mom. As the pregnancy progresses, so do the changes of her body.

So much emphasis is put on getting stretch marks and gaining weight that they seem to become the main focus around post-pregnancy self care. Women flock to buy stretch mark creams to diminish the look of stretch marks they received during their pregnancy. They eagerly await their 6 week check-up to get the go ahead to start working out and drop those extra pregnancy pounds.

But what if working out was actually working against getting back in shape? This is the case for many unsuspecting new moms.

So how can working out work against you?

Diastasis Recti

When a woman’s belly expands, the muscles inside are caused to split, or separate.  This is called Diastasis Recti. Once the baby is born, these muscles can take several months to come back together. However, in many cases, especially with excess weight gain, a large baby and multiples, the muscles don’t fully recover on their own. Rather, these women are left with a bulge around their belly due to the fact that their muscles are not supporting the contents of their abdomen.

Having this condition isn’t just aesthetically unpleasing.  It can also cause:

  • weakened back muscles
  • hernia
  • weakened pelvic floor
  • lower back pain
  • tissue damage

Although it seems logical to workout your abdomen to recover the muscles, there are several exercises that actually cause more damage.

Exercises and actions that should be avoided are:

  • sit-ups and crunches
  • planks
  • pilates
  • obliques
  • jack-knife
  • heavy lifting

What You Can Do To Help

Some people use stomach binding to help correct Diastasis Recti, however, you shouldn’t rely only on a binder.  Using it together with exercises with help heal the muscles much quicker. Exercises you can do to correct the problem are:

  • pelvic tilts
  • heel drops
  • heel slides
  • squats
  • some yoga poses

The main thing is to avoid putting stress on the midline. That means, you don’t want to be putting pressure, stretching or twisting the area. Engaging the transverse abdominis is the key, so you want to make sure you’re engaging the muscles when performing correcting exercises.

All doctors should be checking for Diastasis Recti during 6 week checkups and letting women know if they have it and how to correct it.  At the very least, tell them what not to do to make it worse.

If you’re reading this late in the game, it’s not too late! Even if your child is heading off to Kindergarten, you can still help heal yourself. If you have any concerns, always talk to your doctor.

Have you or anyone you know had Diastasis Recti?

Share below.

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