Is this diastasis recti? What can I do to get my belly back?
June 21, 2012 1:08 PM   Subscribe

When I do ab/core exercises, my stomach looks like this. The internet tells me that this could be diastasis recti. What CAN I do to fix it AND strengthen more core too?

So I first started getting back into shape when my son was 2 (he's my first and only child). I noticed when doing Jillian Michaels videos that her abs do not do this and mine do. Weird. I chalked it up to being out of shape and kept going about my routines (lots of bicycle crunches, leg raises, planks). After some time, I noticed MAJOR improvement with back pain, posture, and overall core strength. The only problem was, my stomach did not seem to be getting flatter (even though I was eating a really clean, healthy diet and drinking a lot of water). There is definitely a portion of my stomach that sticks out and after reading about diastasis recti, I've learned that all of these exercises are actually working against my efforts towards a flat stomach.

So my question is, should I focus more on cardio and leave my core alone (even though it was helping w/ other issues)? Are there specific exercises that I should be doing instead?
posted by okay-quiet-time to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I have no experience with it personally but googling for diastasis recti lead to several youtube videos with exercises that claim to be for correcting the problem such as this one
posted by missmagenta at 1:20 PM on June 21, 2012

Wikipedia says that the Tupler techinique should help.
posted by jacalata at 1:27 PM on June 21, 2012

Do you still see your OB? One of my friends exercised heavily through her pregnancy and her OB gave her a lot of guidance about avoiding diastasis recti, so I think it's something standard that a doctor can give you solid advice regarding.
posted by telegraph at 1:31 PM on June 21, 2012

i don't know much about the condition you're concerned about, but to me (acrobat and circus teacher who does and sees a lot of abs exercise[r]s, though i am not your coach...), it just looks like you use your front and center "loaf of bread" rectus abdominis muscles when you do abs, and as they flex, they bulge out, just like biceps bulge when you flex them.

pilates is great to train you to flatten your stomach as you do abs, so that you are preventing your RA from flexing so you can recruit the deeper ab muscles instead. i'd really recommend you start with a good pilates class and/or private lesson rather than learning just from videos, if you go that route.

in general, go with easier ab exercises but try your hardest to scoop/flatten your belly down, navel to floor, while you do them. unless you do have DR, in which case i have no idea, you WILL see progress, no matter how impossible it feels at first.

probably can't hurt to try the above-linked exercises regardless. they look sound to me.
posted by nevers at 2:10 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

That is a pretty classic-looking picture of diastasis recti--coupled with being postpartum, especially.

There are physical therapists who specialize in women's health issues, which includes postpartum diastasis recti. I would go to your GYN and inquire about a referral to such a PT just for this--even a very limited number of sessions where you learn postures, exercises, and good form to correct and improve would help you move on and do the work yourself. As far as secondary issues related to insurance covering this referral, I have heard many, including back and bowel dysfunction, general discomfort, increased hernia risk, pelvic floor issues. Also, as you get much older with uncorrected diastasis recti, issues like those I mentioned that you don't have now may creep up, so it's nice to work on while you're very strong.

It can be a normal variation, or a childhood variation, but since you didn't have this until after you had a baby, it's more likely due to pregnancy.

I am only looking at this one picture and your question, but it wouldn't hurt at all to go to your GYN with the idea you'd like to see a PT short-term.
posted by rumposinc at 5:12 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Definitely go and see your OB/GYN, as he or she will be very familiar with this. To me, this looks like diastasis recti, as I have a fairly severe case of it. I have done a lot of googling on the topic, and I have not run into any 100% agreed upon solutions. As well as hearing about the exercises in the Tupler method linked above, I have heard you should work more on the obliques (either side of your abdomen), rather than the rectus abdominis (right down the center). I strongly second rumposinc's suggestion of going to see a PT, but definitely one who is familiar with diastasis recti.

Targeted exercises are definitely the first thing to try, and you can likely resolve it that way. In more extreme cases, then surgery to reattach the two sets of muscles can be necessary, although sadly this is almost never covered by health insurance in the US.
posted by Joh at 8:56 PM on June 21, 2012

After almost one year and many MANY trips to the gym, I'm happy to report that I no longer have this strange protrusion anymore. Yay! I avoided all abdominal exercises, but was still able to achieve a stronger core through strength training and yoga. Thanks for your replies!
posted by okay-quiet-time at 5:37 PM on March 26, 2013

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