Abdominal separation is known as Diastasis Recti, and is a condition where your Rectus Abdominis (or 6 pack muscles) separate from the Linea Alba (or midline) to allow room for your baby bump.
After birth, these muscles often do not come all the way back together. The separation is measured in finger width. 1 finger width is normal/average. Anything wider than that should be monitored and should be rehabilitated accordingly.
How to check for Diastasis Recti
- wait until you have had your baby
- lie flat on your back, with knees bent
- hold up an abdominal crunch position
- feel your abdomen just above bellybutton height (this is usually where the separation is the largest) and measure how large the distance is between two sides of the abdomen
Here is a video that shows you how to check for it followed by a cardio core workout! Please ensure you are at least 6 weeks post partum and have had clearance to start exercising again!
What to do about it
- Splinting – you can buy a splint that you can wear underneath your clothing to start to pull your abdominal muscles back together. This will also keep you aware of your core throughout the day.
- Splinted crunches – manually splint your midsection by lying on a towel and grabbing opposite ends and crossing them over your abs at the level of the bellybutton. Pull tight and do tiny crunches while trying to pull your bellybutton down towards the spine
- Avoid sit ups now, and possibly always. Sit ups are an extinct exercise as far as I’m concerned. There are far better ways to strengthen the core that don’t force you to round your back on the way up. Stick to exercises that strengthen the internal core muscles like the dead bug exercise, modified planks from the knees (making sure to engage the core by pulling the bellybutton towards the spine), and controlled twisting exercises
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet – As you may have noticed, your digestive system sits behind your abdominal walls. We don’t want any pressure pushing outward onto your abdominal wall. Ensuring proper digestion is key to make sure that your intestines don’t bloat. Here are some tips to deal with bloating.
- Give it time – the muscles should eventually come back together with enough care and attention. If they do not, some women have the muscles surgically put back into place. This is a personal choice. How separated are they and how does it effect your life?
If you are unsure of your safety when exercising after having a baby, it is a good idea to hire a professional. Take a look at what some of my postnatal clients have had to say about training with me here!
Click here for more information on my pre/postnatal training.