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Fit Moms Pregnancy and Postpartum Joining Cathe as moderator of FitMoms is Sheila Watkins. Sheila is a prenatal fitness specialist with over a decade of experience training 1000+ pregnant and new mothers, and educating hundreds of fitness instructors, health professionals, and childbirth educators on the rapidly changing field of prenatal fitness. We hope this forum will help you stay fit during your pregnancy

healing diastasis recti?

This is a discussion on healing diastasis recti? within the Fit Moms Pregnancy and Postpartum forums, part of the Cathe Friedrich Fitness Forums category;; Hi! I'm hoping someone has some knowledge or experience with healing diastasis recti and can help me out. I found ...

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Old 10-31-2006, 08:59 AM
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Default healing diastasis recti?

Hi!

I'm hoping someone has some knowledge or experience with healing diastasis recti and can help me out. I found out I have diastasis recti in my third trimester, and just wonder what exercises are recommended post partum to help correct this? And, how soon after giving birth can these exercises be started? I've found one dvd on amazon and several articles on the internet, but wanted some advice from moms who've experienced it and gone through the healing process.

I plan on talking to my doctor also and see if she can recommend some exercises as well. Several articles have indicated that with reconditioning, the condition should correct itself post partum, so I'm hoping this is the case!

Thanks for any advice you can give.

Stacey

Baby#3 due 1/22/07
Emma born 4/27/03
Alex born 9/7/01
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Old 11-01-2006, 12:12 PM
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Default RE: healing diastasis recti?

Hi Stacey,

My name is Sheila Watkins and I am actually the moderator of this forum and the founder of Healthy Moms(R) Fitness (www.healthymomsfitness.com). If you email me at Sheila@healthymomsfitness.com, I will send you back an abdominal rehab protocol that we use with our clients as well as in our Perinatal Fitness Instructor Training Course. I would also recommend two books. One is Elizabeth Noble's "Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Year" and the other is "Bounce Back Into Shape with Baby" by Caroline Corning Creager. Both are excellent references.

For those unfamiliar with diastasis recti, I have included below an excerpt from the "Healthy Moms(R) Perinatal Fitness Instructor Training Manual......"

Diastasis Recti
As a quick review, the rectus abdominis is the outermost abdominal muscle, which attaches from the top of the ribs to the pubic bone. It is composed of two halves called recti that are normally about a half an inch apart. The two recti are joined by a fibrous band of connective tissue or central seam known as the linea alba. The hormones of pregnancy cause the linea alba to soften. This is why women notice a “thicker” waistline early in their pregnancies. This softening coupled with the increased pressure from the growing baby may actually cause the two recti to separate around the area of the navel, somewhat like a zipper separating under stress. The onset of diastasis recti may be gradual or sudden (Ex. During a bout of coughing or during labor). During pregnancy, a gap or bulge is often noticed in the seam when the head and shoulders are raised. This is the “telltale” sign of a diastasis. Women sometimes find their diastases when they are rising out of bed and notice the bulge.

Implications
Pregnant women should be checked for separation after the 20th week of pregnancy or when they begin to “show.” They should be checked every few weeks after their initial assessment. Clients should also be checked after they return to class postpartum, as they may have separated during labor and delivery.

The oblique muscles, which are involved with trunk rotation, insert into the linea alba. If a mom has a separated rectus muscle, she should not be doing rotational oblique work as this could encourage further separation. It is necessary to “splint” the seam (i.e. the “corrective” exercise) by crossing the hands over the lower abdomen when doing abdominal work.

Hope this helps!

Sheila
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Old 11-01-2006, 08:06 PM
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Default RE: healing diastasis recti?

Thanks sooo much Sheila, I will e-mail you for more info.

Stacey

Baby#3 due 1/22/07
Emma born 4/27/03
Alex born 9/7/01
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:10 AM
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Default RE: healing diastasis recti?

Sheila has already given you a lot of information, I just wanted to share my experience. Even though I didn't gain much weight, I had diastasis when I was pregnant. It was easy to see - whenever I sat up unassisted I could clearly see the "pooch" down the center of my belly. Doing the "fingers" test, I could easily get 3-4 fingers between my ab muscles right above my bellybutton. After it started, I stopped doing any crunches or situps, and made sure to roll to my side and push myself up using my arms whenever getting up from a lying position.

I'm sure Sheila's info has some special exercises to do to strengthen your transverse muscles. After I delivered I did some specific exercises, and also added in my pilates videos, only I modified them and did not lift my head off of the floor - just did the legs and focused on "scooping" my abs. I found that just tightening my abs while sitting or standing helped strengthen my transverse, also.

My diastasis was gone and I was back doing regular ab workouts about two months postpartum. Anyway, just wanted you to know that it is possible to "heal" a diastasis. Good luck!!

ETA: I started doing basic ab tightening exercises in the hospital - just tightening my abs, holding for a few seconds, and releasing. The other exercises I started about two weeks postpartum.
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:22 AM
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Default RE: healing diastasis recti?

Hi Linda,
Thanks so much for the response and advice! That makes me feel so much better to know I can correct it with a little work. I've found a lot of great exercises to do and am feeling much better about it:)


Stacey

Baby#3 due 1/22/07
Emma born 4/27/03
Alex born 9/7/01
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Old 11-02-2006, 07:41 PM
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Default RE: healing diastasis recti?

Hi Stacey! My name is Jen and I'm one of Sheila's certified instructor's. I have a diastasion as well and am just going to throw in my experience as well. First, the separation can never "heal" in the sense that is will not grow back like a broken bone will. The connective tissue has split much like the seam of a zipper. One can get the separation down to as little as 1-2 fingers which is considered "minus station" in physical therapy (I am not a pt but am in pt for this very problem) and is considered GREAT. That being said, some pilates can be very helpful and some harmful - as in most things in life. Like Sheila said, rotational oblique work is not recommended and any ab work that increases the separation should be avoided (the separation can go back and forth from 1-4 fingers depending on your exercises).

Crunches only lifting the head off the floor are usually the place to start. Planks should start on elbows and knees but if "pooching" happens, that is too advanced so try lying all the way down and just engaging the abs and drawing them into the spine.

Be careful of strength training in certain areas:
Squats - if you can't keep your abs engaged without "pooching", reduce range of motion and/or weight
Chest press - you need to be able to keep abs in contact with bench; recommend doing them on the floor

Depending how severe your separation is BOTH horizontally and vertically, you may want to meet with a physical therapist that specializes in womens health to learn specific exercise progressions for you. I personally am in pt for this as my separtion increased significantly vertically after my second pregnancy and I have to wear an abdominal binder at times.

Hope this helps and kudos to seeking information!

Jeni - momma to Olivia 4 and Anasofia 15mos.
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Old 11-02-2006, 09:52 PM
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Default RE: healing diastasis recti?

Thanks Jeni! Great advice, and it's nice to hear that you have really improved your condition. I'm currently taking a prenatal fitness class from a physical trainer at my local hospital and she is going to get me some literature on diastasis recti and is starting to show me some safe exercises to do. I'm very hopeful that with all of the great information I'm gathering, I should at least be able to reduce my diastasis significantly even it can never be "healed" fully (thanks for clarifying that too).

I'll be sure to do some research on which types of pilates exercises and ab work are harmful to do and avoid those.

Thanks again:)
Stacey

Baby#3 due 1/22/07
Emma born 4/27/03
Alex born 9/7/01
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