Home > Body > Health > What Is Diastasis Recti And How Do I Check If I Have It?

Diastasis Recti is something that’s essential to understand after you’ve had a baby, especially if you’re about to pick up a post-partum fitness regime. But right now you’re probably wondering how the hell you even say it, let alone whether you have it or not. Try ‘DIE-A-STAY-SIS REC-TIE’: we’ll call it ‘DR’ for short and here’s the drill…

When you’re pregnant, your body needs to make room for the little human growing inside. As your uterus enlarges, the two large stomach muscles that sit vertically side by side in your abdominal wall can begin to separate – and that’s Diastasis Recti. The amount of separation can vary but it’s nothing to worry about and is completely normal – DR will affect up to 60% of women during and post-pregnancy.

Ideally your doctor will examine you for DR in your six-week check-up, but as it’s not unknown for this to be missed (tut tut!) it’s always worth checking yourself at home. And if there is a gap, it’s important to carry out regular checks to ensure that it’s gradually getting smaller.

If you’re planning a post-partum fitness regime it’s even more critical to check for DR, as specific core exercises should only be undertaken if the gap is two fingers wide or less. It only takes a couple of minutes each time, so it’s nice and quick. Here’s how…

  1. Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Raise your shoulders up off the floor slightly – you can support your head with one hand if you need to.
  3. Look down at your tummy and feel for your midline stomach muscles below and above your belly button. Check how many finger widths you can fit between the two muscles.
  4. If you have a gap of one to two fingers, you only have a moderate case of diastasis recti which should naturally get smaller as you begin to exercise and re-build your core strength. It’s important to do this gently and carefully; don’t go straight into full core workouts, as your tummy muscles still need time to re-build strength. Remember that you’ve just spent nine months growing a small human, and it will take time to get back to your pre-pregnant self.
  5. If you have a gap larger than 2 fingers, don’t panic. You will be able to minimise this over time, but only by choosing your core-strengthening exercises with care. Going full-pelt into traditional core workouts could make your DR worse and even cause ‘doming’, whereby stomach muscles start pointing out into a rounded shape – exactly the opposite effect you’d hoped for!
  6. If at any point you’re worried by what you find, or you can still feel an obvious gap eight weeks later, do go back to your GP. It’s always worth letting them know your fitness plans in the first place, in case they feel you should hold off for a while or even see a physiotherapist.

In next week’s post I’ll be taking you through some exercises that will help to rebuild your core strength safely. Whether you have a one-to-two finger gap or anything larger, I’ve got you covered. See you next week… and don’t forget to check for DR in the meantime.

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