Diastasis Recti Exercises – Physical Therapy Exercises for Diastasis Repair

Have you been diagnosed with diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation)?

Are you looking for diastasis recti exercises on the mat that promote healing?

This short video exercise routine is a great place to promote your recovery.

Diastasis recti is a separation of the outer rectus abdominis or ‘6 pack’ muscles where they join in the mid line of the abdomen.

Unfortunately many women return to inappropriate abdominal exercises with a diastais. This can prevent or delay recovery and contribute to a range of associated problems.

Video content: Physiotherapist demonstration of 4 mat-based deep abdominal core exercises
Video duration: 7 minutes 30 seconds
Suitability: General

Please scroll down for more help to manage diastasis recti after pregnancy

Diastasis Recti Treatment

Treatment for this condition may include:

Measuring Your Diastasis Recti

Diastasis recti is caused by stretching of the abdominal wall during pregnancy and/or the forceful bearing down phase of labour. Diastasis occurs when the membrane joining the 2 Rectus Abdominis muscles splits apart.

If your muscle separation is more than 2 finger spaces apart (measured above the navel) the condition is referred to as diastasis recti (or rectus diastasis).

Four Diastasis Recti Exercises

This exercise routine shows you 3 mat-based deep core abdominal exercises to help you recover core control and promote healing.

It is vital to avoid intense core abdominal exercises such as abdominal curls and heavily loaded resistance exercises during your recovery. These activities increase strain on the upper abdominal muscles causing them to separate rather than close together and heal.

Diastasis Recti Exercise 1

Activating the deep abdominal muscles in side lying.

  • Start by lying on your side
  • Use your fingers to feel your abdominal wall just inside your pelvic bone
  • Activate your lower abdominal wall by gently drawing inwards the area beneath your briefs
  • Maintain this abdominal activation for up to 10 seconds
  • Breathe normally throughout
  • Relax your abdominal wall back to resting

Note: Your upper abdomen should remain relaxed throughout this exercise

Progression

Start out by learning to correctly activate your deep abdominal muscles before extending the duration of this hold for up to 10 seconds at a time

Diastasis Recti Exercise 2

Activating the deep abdominal muscles lying flat

  • Start lying on your back
  • Bend your knees and keep your feet flat
  • Keep the normal inward curve in your lower back throughout
  • Place your fingers on your lower abdominal wall just inside your pelvic bones
  • Gently activate your deep abdominal muscles (same technique as exercise 1)
  • Maintain this abdominal activation for up to 10 seconds
  • Breathe normally throughout
  • Relax your abdominal wall back to resting

Note: Your upper abdomen should remain relaxed throughout this exercise

Progression

Start out by learning to correctly activate your deep abdominal muscles before extending the duration of this hold for up to 10 seconds at a time

Diastasis Recti Exercise 3

Bent Knee Fall Outs

Progress the challenge for your core muscles.

  • Start lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat
  • Keep the normal inward curve in your lower back throughout
  • Activate lower abdominal muscles (as for exercises 1 & 2)
  • Gently lower your right bent leg to the right side of your body
  • Keep your left knee bent and pointing upwards towards the ceiling
  • Keep your pelvis stable throughout this exercise – try to avoid trunk rotation
  • Return your right leg to starting position as soon as you detect movement in your trunk
  • Relax your deep abdominal muscles
  • Repeat 2-3 exercises each side when starting out

Progress this exercise by doing a number of repeated exercises in succession without releasing your abdominal contraction

Diastasis Recti Exercise 4

Heel Slides

Progress the challenge for your core muscles.

  • Start in the same position already outlined for exercise 3
  • Place your fingers to feel your lower abdominal muscles just inside your pelvis
  • Gently activate your deep abdominal muscles and extend your right leg
  • When you feel your lower back begin to arch return your leg back to your starting position
  • Relax your deep abdominal muscles
  • Repeat 2-3 exercises each side when starting out
  • Progress this exercise by doing a number of repeated exercises in succession without releasing your abdominal contraction
  • Repeat 2-3 exercises each side when starting out

Key Points for Diastasis Recti Exercises

Appropriate diastasis recti exercises can restore deep abdominal control and promote abdominal muscle recovery after pregnancy and childbirth.

The key to successful strengthening is to ensure the correct deep abdominal activation technique and then progressively challenge the deep abdominal muscles with exercises that further promote core control.

It is vital that women with diastasis recti avoid intense core abdominal exercises.

 

Mums Shape Up BookPhysical Therapy Post Natal Exercise Guide

Physiotherapist Lisa Westlake’s book Mum’s Shape Up teaches you how to exercise safely and get back in shape after pregnancy and childbirth.

Easy to read and complete with a comprehensive range of core, fitness and strength exercises, Mums Shape Up is an excellent resource for new mums to exercise safely, lose weight safely and regain strength and fitness.

Comments

  1. Melissa says:

    This video saved my life. Thank you Michelle for lots of reasons, but mostly for giving me hope that repair of my diastasis recti was possible with firstly activating my deep core muscles.

  2. Hi are these exercises effective for men with rrectis abdominus diastasis

    Peter

  3. Hi! Thank you for sharing these free videos and written guidelines. Will it be enough to follow these to close the gap (i think i have a 3 finger gap) or do I need to do more/ visit a physical therapist/ do some other exercises also? Can you please lead me to the correct path as there are multiple websites and tons of information on the web which are fairly expensive and contradict one another, Thank you

  4. Hello! I’m not sure if my tummy just hasn’t contracted properly or may have muscle seperation. I still get contractions and exercise very slowly brings it down. I am doing cardio, squats and a muscle seperation-friendly ball workout. The physiotherapist couldn’t tell me if I had seperation or not!!?? So my question is ‘should my muscles be separated when in the lying down, relaxed position before sitting up to test for seperation?’ * 8.5 months post pregnancy* Many thanks De.

  5. Are all of these exercises safe if there is the diastasis recti as well as the descentio vaginae et colli uteris (the same prolaps, I think)?
    What about other exercises on this site? Are all of them safe for such a combination of problems?

  6. how long should you do these exercises for before expecting to see a difference, and how long before you can progress to more intense exercise please?

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Nina
      The rate of healing is very individual. The focus is on regaining deep abdominal muscle control which can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month with practice. Healing depends on many factors related to your regular activities, your separation and the appropriateness of your exercises. Leave intense core exercises until you have very good deep abdominal muscle control.
      Michelle

  7. I had my last baby 14 years ago and still have this problem. Is it too late to correct it?

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Mary

      Its definitely not too late to correct this – muscles strengthen at any age. The focus should be on your deep abdominal muscles (gentle) and your pelvic floor rehab.

      All the best
      Michelle

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Mary
      It’s possible to retrain the abdominal muscles at any age – this would be my focus to regain tone in the deep abdominal muscles to help improve overall abdominal tone and control.
      Michelle

  8. Hello Michelle, mine is about 3 finger spaces apart. How long do you think it will take me to heal if I do the exercise daily

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Anna
      Unfortunately it’s not possible to accurately predict from on woman to the next as so many factors come into play. The tissues involved in healing are strong connective tissues and these tissues usually take months to heal depending in part upon how much strain they’re under during healing.
      Cheers
      Michelle

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Anna
      Usually natural healing takes place in the first 4 weeks after childbirth. Thereafter healing depends on many factors including body weight, regular activity and appropriate exercises and can take months.
      Michelle

  9. Hi Michelle,

    My last pregnancy was a C-section 12 years ago (have had 2 pregnancies), and then for the last 6 years at the gym I have been doing as part of my fitness program, hard out abdominal work outs. Last year, I ended up having surgery to repair my umbilical hernia. After doing recent research, have discovered that I have a DR, which was probably caused from my pregnancies and then all of my gym work would have made it worse! Apparently getting a hernia is a side effect from DR!! I have just started to do DR exercises this week, but have found around my old hernia site (mesh repair) can be a little tender. Are there any precautions that I will need to take while doing the exercises as I do not want to relapse my hernia?
    Thanks Alena

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Alena

      What sort of DR exercises have you recommenced?

      The big precaution with Rectus Diastasis rehab is to avoid overloading the upper abdominal muscles and drawing in the core abdominal too strongly. Be guided by your repair Alena, recognise discomfort over your mesh as a potential warning sign that you may be doing too much. If someone’s supervising your exercises they need to be advised and your routine possibly modified.

      Michelle

      • Thank you so much Michelle for replying back to me. The DR exercises I have commenced is a series from the Tupler technique (which you can download), and no one is supervising me. I have started to do them at least daily. Do you think that is too much? I am desperate to sort out my tummy, because I hate the pooch look :-(

        • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

          Hi Alena
          I’m not familiar with the Tupler technique and couldn’t see the download link – can you send it through to me if you have a chance?
          Cheers
          Michelle

          • Hiya,

            If you just google in the words “Tupler Technique” it will lead you onto all of the sites that this woman’s work is on. Hope this helps