Do's and Don'ts to Avoid Diastsis Recti

This is a guest post by Stephany Tamer, Physical Therapist and Personal Trainer. 

Diastasis Recti Abdominis, or shorter known as DRA is a very common symptom of pregnancy. It is the separation of your rectus abdominis muscle (deep muscle in the stomach area) which occurs mostly in the 3rd trimester or after you give birth.

diastasis recti, exercises after pregnancy by baraa el sabbagh, dietitian and personal trainer

The thing about DRA is that it gives what is commonly known as “Mummy Tummy”, and women often think that this is due to extra fat and they start going on strict diets and doing so many exercises and mostly rush into doing sit-ups during and after pregnancy to make the abdominal muscle firm again.  

What most women don’t know is that the extra bulge in their tummy that doesn’t seem to go away easily is due to the separation of the rectus abdominis muscle and doing endless amounts of crunches and certain abs exercises are making the situation worse 

How can you know if you have DRA or not?

Physical therapists usually can’t properly diagnose a DR until after giving birth. Even though the pregnant lady may be developing it in her 3rd trimester.

That's why doing sit-ups at this point, increases the risk of developing DR massively and puts a lot of unwanted pressure on the pelvic area which will result in more severe incontinence in women after delivery. 

So, rule number 1: no sit-ups in your 3rd trimester or after delivery! Your physical therapist can very easily diagnose a DRA and give you the appropriate exercises tailored specifically for your body but that might have to wait until after delivery. 

Exercise and pregnancy, diastasis recti by baraa el sabbagh, personal trainer, sports nutritionist and dietitian

Whether you're diagnosed with DRA or not, I advise you to follow the Do's and Don'ts to avoid aggravating the situation especially in the 3rd trimester. 

DRA DON’Ts: 

  • Sit-ups 
  • Planks  
  • Crunches 
  • Oblique curls 
  • Reverse curls 
  • Backbends  
  • Heavy lifting  
  • Spine twisting  

DRA DOs: 

  • Pelvic Tilts 
  • Toe Taps 
  • Heel Slides 
  • Bridges 
  • Single leg stretches 
  • Exhale during moments of effort  

When can you start exercising after delivering your baby?

The ideal time to start exercising and following a specific workout routine is 6 weeks post-partum. The first 3 weeks after giving birth are meant for your body to rest and recover from pregnancy and delivery.

It is only until the 6th week after delivery, that the scars are healed at 90%. So after that period, it is crucial to start hypopressive exercises also known as hypopressive abs that were introduced by M. Caufriez.

This exercise is so beneficial it is often indicated for high-performance athletes as well for its benefits in core strengthening.

hypopressive exercise, diastasis recti, exercise after pregnancy

This is an example of doing hypopressive exercises which are really recommended after pregnancy. You can read more about it through this link.

And as you may have already heard from many personal trainers, "traditional exercises to get a six-pack are not going to give you the benefit you are looking for," so there really is no need for you to rush in doing ab exercises. 

One more tip I usually love giving my patients is to always think about exercises that keep their belly pulled in, rather than doing any movement that pushes it out. 

Here's a video with a few exercises to do if you do have DRA: 

Share this with your friends and family to learn about the Do's and Don'ts for diastasis recti and let us know if you have any questions in the comments below. 

Guest Author: 

Stephany Tamer

Physical therapist

IFPA certified Fitness Personal Trainer

Check out Stephany on Instagram!

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