Exercises Not to Do with Diastasis Recti: Finding the Safe Path Forward

March 25, 2024 in Education

Exercises Not to Do with Diastasis Recti: Finding the Safe Path Forward

exercises not to do with diastasis recti

Diastasis recti, a common condition affecting the abdominal muscles, often requires a tailored approach to physical activity. Identifying exercises not to do with diastasis recti is crucial for anyone looking to heal or prevent the worsening of this condition. 

Simultaneously, knowing the best exercises for diastasis recti can empower individuals, especially women, in their journey to recovery. Let’s explore both sides of the spectrum, guiding you through the dos and don’ts in the realm of physical exercise.

What Are The Symptoms of Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti is a condition that’s often associated with pregnancy, but it’s not exclusive to it. It’s when you have a separation across your abdominal muscles, on the midline of your stomach.

This separation can lead to a range of uncomfortable physical symptoms and changes in appearance, making it important to recognize the signs. Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with diastasis recti.

Visible Bulge or “Pooch” in the Abdomen

One of the most noticeable signs of diastasis recti is a bulging or protruding stomach, especially when the abdominal muscles are strained. This “pooch” may be more evident when standing up or performing certain activities that put pressure on the abdomen.

Lower Back Pain

Diastasis recti can lead to instability and weakness in the core, often resulting in lower back pain. Without the proper support from your core muscles, your back takes on additional strain during daily activities, leading to discomfort and pain.

Poor Posture

Maintaining proper posture becomes a challenge as core muscles weaken due to diastasis recti. This weakening can lead to a noticeable change in posture, often characterized by a slumped or forward-leaning stance.

Pelvic Floor Problems

Diastasis recti and pelvic floor issues typically go hand in hand. Symptoms can include:

  • urinary incontinence
  • difficulties with bowel movements
  • a feeling of heaviness in the pelvic region

These symptoms arise from the decreased support to the pelvic organs due to weakened core muscles.

Difficulty Performing Certain Exercises

If you find it challenging to perform core-strength exercises, such as planks or sit-ups, without straining or bulging in the midline of your abdomen, it could be a sign of diastasis recti.

This difficulty is due to the separation of the muscles, which compromises the core’s stability and strength.

Exercises Not To Do with Diastasis Recti

Before diving into your fitness routine, it’s crucial to be aware of certain exercises that may do more harm than good. Be sure to steer clear of these activities to help avoid aggravating diastasis recti and support your healing journey.

Traditional Abdominal Workouts

While you may want to jump right into traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches, sit-ups, and planks, they can actually make things worse. By increasing intra-abdominal pressure, these exercises can exacerbate diastasis recti.

These movements push your abdominal muscles outward, potentially widening the gap between them, so it’s best to avoid them.

High-Impact Exercises

Exercises that involve jumping or intense aerobic activity can also put undue stress on your abdominal wall. High-impact workouts, like running, jumping jacks, or certain aerobic classes, should be approached with caution if you have diastasis recti.

Advanced Core Movements

Movements that require significant core stability, such as traditional Pilates or some yoga poses (like the boat pose), can be detrimental. These exercises for diastasis recti seem beneficial but can lead to further separation if not modified appropriately.

Heavy Lifting

Lifting heavy weights, especially without proper core engagement, can strain your abdominal muscles. This includes weightlifting at the gym and everyday activities like lifting children or heavy groceries.

Focus on engaging your core correctly or modify these activities to prevent worsening your condition.

Deep Twisting Poses

Certain movements that involve deep twisting of the torso can further stress the abdominal muscles, leading to increased separation. This includes exercises like oblique twists with weights, or some yoga and Pilates poses that emphasize rotation of the spine and abdomen.

Intense Backbends

Backbends that place excessive pressure on the abdomen, such as full-wheel or camel poses in yoga, should be avoided. These poses stretch and exert pressure on the abdominal muscles, which can hinder the healing process of diastasis recti.

Safe Exercises for Diastasis Recti

While there are exercises not to do with diastasis recti, many can safely help recover and strengthen the core post-diastasis recti. Focusing on gentle, supportive movements, the following exercises are specifically designed to promote healing without further strain.

Pelvic Tilts and Kegels

Exercise for diastasis recti should start with the basics. Pelvic tilts and Kegel exercises are great starting points. They strengthen the pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles without putting too much pressure on the midsection.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Also known as deep belly breathing, this technique helps activate and strengthen the deep core muscles. It’s a foundational practice that supports the healing of diastasis recti by encouraging the muscles to contract and relax safely.

Modified Core Exercises

Opt for diastasis recti exercises for women that focus on gentle core strengthening. Toe taps, heel slides, and side-lying leg lifts can be beneficial.

These movements help engage the core without further separation.

Supported Postures

Incorporating supported postures from yoga and Pilates, modified to suit your condition, can also be part of the best exercises for diastasis recti. Use props and focus on alignment to ensure you engage your muscles correctly without strain.

Wall Sits

Wall sits are a fantastic way to engage and strengthen your thighs and buttocks while maintaining a stable and neutral spine. You can strengthen your lower body without increasing abdominal separation by focusing on keeping your core gently engaged during the exercise.

Bird Dog

The bird dog exercise improves core stability and balance while minimizing pressure on the abdominal gap. It’s a gentle exercise that you control the entire time and can be done right at home. Just be sure to gently move throughout the exercise.

Bridge Pose

Bridge pose, performed with attention to pelvic alignment and core engagement, can be a safe way to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings. Lying on your back with your feet flat on the ground, gently lift your hips towards the ceiling, engaging your glutes and hamstrings while keeping your core tight to support your lower back.

The Benefits of Working With A Personal Trainer For Diastasis Recti

When navigating the complexities of diastasis recti, partnering with a personal trainer specializing in postpartum fitness is a game-changer. A personal trainer brings many benefits to your recovery journey, offering personalized guidance, support, and expertise to ensure your exercises are both safe and effective. 

Tailored Exercise Programs

One of the primary benefits of working with a personal trainer is having an exercise program tailored specifically to your needs. Understanding the nuances of diastasis recti, a personal trainer can create a regimen that focuses on strengthening the core without risking further separation.

This personalized approach ensures that every movement contributes positively to your recovery.

Expert Guidance and Supervision

A personal trainer provides expert guidance, ensuring exercises are performed with the correct form and technique. This supervision is crucial in preventing injuries and maximizing the effectiveness of each exercise.

For individuals with diastasis recti, proper alignment and engagement of the core muscles are vital. A personal trainer can provide immediate feedback and adjustments as needed.

Education and Knowledge Sharing

Working with a personal trainer is not just about following an exercise program; it’s also an educational journey. A knowledgeable trainer can teach you about the mechanics of diastasis recti, including how certain exercises can aid in recovery while others may hinder it.

Emotional Support

Lastly, our personal trainers provide emotional support throughout your recovery. Dealing with diastasis recti can be frustrating and emotionally taxing. Having a trainer who understands your struggles and supports your journey can make a significant difference in your overall wellbeing and motivation.

Navigating Your Path Forward

Understanding and respecting your body’s current state is vital when dealing with diastasis recti. Avoiding specific exercises not to do with diastasis recti while embracing safe, rehabilitative movements can lead to significant improvements. 

Remember, starting your exercise journey with awareness and caution is the key to healing. As always, consult with a healthcare provider or a physical therapist specializing in postpartum recovery to tailor the exercise plan to your specific needs. 

Ready to start your personal training journey? Reach out to Peak Physique today!

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