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Postnatal Exercise: What is Diastis Recti?

Postnatal exercise. Getting back in the groove after baby. Ah, yes, we all envisioned this to be a certain way. Easy, perhaps. If you are as I was, you are anxious about moving again. Exercise is great! When we are cleared by our doctors we may not be aware of the necessity of engaging in pelvic floor rehab properly. I did too much too soon. Everyone is different and it also will depend on the type of labor and delivery you experienced.


I cannot touch on the topic of diastis recti enough. Many women ask “What is diastis recti?” A little bit about the body here:

The rectus abdominis is in the center of your belly. There is connective tissue between the two sides of the rectus abdominis called the linea alba. During pregnancy, obvious stretching occurs. This is called the degree of separation. There is a degree of separation that is considered normal. The largest separation during pregnancy is at or around the belly button. A normal degree of separation is 0-3 finger widths and can be determined using a technique similar to a controlled crunch or a curl up.

When postpartum women head to their OB for their 6 week check up, physicians typically test for diastis recti. However, most active women that I talk to are not aware that they have even been tested or that they should be alert. It is simple to test for your degree of separation. If you have more than a 3 finger separation, it is wise to seek your physician. The concern with too much separation is the integrity of the internal organs beneath. Connective tissue shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of what the anatomy of your rectus abdominis was made to do!

I am happy to report that the majority of women that have been tested, in my experience, do not have an issue with this. For these women, they can go on about their fitness regimens with no change. Proper education on the issue is empowering and important in continuing activity.

TO SELF-TEST: Lay down on your back. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Take one hand and place it behind your head. Lift your upper body up into an abdominal crunch and hold it. Using your other hand, press into your belly near your belly button. Make sure your hand is parallel to your hips. Move this hand side to side to feel the two edges of your rectus abdominis. The separation can be measured by finger width.

Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place one hand behind your head, come up into a crunch and hold it. Take your other hand and press it into your belly near your belly button, parallel to your hips. Move your hand side to side to feel the two edges of your rectus abdominis. Measure the separation by finger width.

^For additional questions, reach out! [email protected] of FIT4MOM South Hills


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