I have decided that I want to share my journey to heal my Diastasis Recti because I think it might be able to help some of you who may have it or may have pelvic floor issues. This isn’t going to be easy for me to share because it is uncomfortable to talk about so please be kind with any comments you want to share 🙂
My journey started about 9 months after I had my second baby and I started to notice that something didn’t seem right with my stomach. For one, I looked like I was still about 6 months pregnant even though I had lost all of my baby weight and then some. Secondly, something just didn’t feel right when I went to sit up for a laying down position and while jumping. And third, I leaked a bit of pee when I sneezed.
I started to google what might be wrong and I came across a term called Diastasis Recti. I found a few websites that described how to check and see if you have it. There are tons of videos and websites out there that describe how to test for this and they are all pretty consistent in their instructions, here is one if you like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiqfFM3kNuk. So, I tested myself and was horrified by what I found. I was able to comfortably fit 3 fingers horizontally in the gap in the middle of my abs and the gap was so deep that I could put my fingers vertically into it up to the large knuckles on my fingers.
After my shock subsided, I started to think about what I could do about this. Did I need surgery? Was this normal? Are there exercises I could do that would help? Should I see a physiotherapist?
What I decided to do as my first step was see a physiotherapist about it. And he did in fact make the diagnosis of Diastasis Recti and gave me some exercises to do and told me which ab exercises to avoid. I tried my best to do the exercises as he described, but I just didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how to activate the muscles that he was telling me I needed to strengthen.
So, I went back to the internet to try and educate myself more about this condition. I found this visual image helpful:
This image helped me to understand exactly what was going on with my stomach muscles and which muscles I needed to learn how to activate and strengthen.
When I started looking on the internet for how to heal my Diastasis Recti and improve the function of my abs and pelvic floor, I got all sorts of conflicting information. Some sites said do pelvic tilts, some sites said don’t do pelvic tilts, some sites said that wrapping or splinting your abs works, some sites said that this could actually make things worse. I was confused to say the least lol!
While looking around on the internet I found that there were 2 well known and very popular programs that you could buy that claim to help you heal your diastasis recti (I say “claim” only because I haven’t actually tried these programs so I can’t comment on whether or not they work). One is the MuTu System https://mutusystem.com/12-week-3 which is a 12 week online program and costs $97 USD. And the other one is the Tupler Technique https://diastasisrehab.com/online-support which is a 6 week online program and costs $225 USD plus you need the Diastasis Rehab Splint which is another $50 USD.
I didn’t want to pay that much money for these programs, so I looked for whatever I could find that was free. I found a free program that was for pre and postnatal women, unfortunately it looks like this program isn’t offered anymore so I can’t share it with you. I did this program for 4 weeks and I saw a difference both in how my tummy looked and the function of my core muscles.
Here is a picture of what my tummy looked like before I started trying to heal my ab split and pelvic floor issues vs after doing the 4 week program that I must mentioned:
After the 4 weeks was done, I started looking for more free diastasis safe workouts online and found this: http://purelytwins.com/2015/02/17/how-do-i-get-rid-of-my-diastasis-recti-my-tummy-update/
Scroll down and enter your information and you will receive 18 free workouts that are safe for people with diastasis recti.
I did these 18 workouts (a different one each day) for about a year. And they are great full body workouts that allowed me to get my body in pretty good shape overall.
While I really like these workouts, and the gap between my abs has decreased and gotten shallower, I was still having issues with functionality. Specifically, I was still leaking pee while jumping and sneezing sometimes. So, I decided that I had to change something and went back to the internet to search for something that could help the functionality issues I was having. Here is what I found: https://health.nataliehodson.com/order-form This is a 4 week program, it is not free, but it is only $27 USD. Well, it is actually $37 USD but when I bought it there was a promotion on which may still be available. This was a price that I could live with, and after reading some of the other content on this website, I felt like this was a program that could really help me.
I am currently in the middle of week 2 of this program and so far, here is what I can say about it, my core was pretty sore for the first 2 days of the program even though it feels like the exercises aren’t accomplishing much. You don’t sweat, and your muscles don’t get that burning feeling that you usually get when you do a traditional exercise. So it really feels like you aren’t doing much. These workouts are super boring lol! They really are, but, I also think they are super important and deserve my full attention and effort. So, that is what I am doing. I am giving this my all, even though it doesn’t feel like much.
Yesterday, after about 1.5 weeks of doing these workouts, I sneezed (with a full bladder) and didn’t pee!!!!! It felt amazing!! So, I feel like I’m on the right track!! I’m going to post some pictures of my progress, even though my goal is improved function and not how my core/tummy looks. If there is an improvement in how my tummy looks it will be a bonus and since I can’t show you pictures of me not peeing myself lol, I’ll show you pictures of my tummy as I go through this program.
Here is me at the beginning of the Abs, Core and Pelvic Floor program (1.5 weeks ago) vs at the end of week 1:
Not seeing a huge change in how my tummy looks so far, but that is not what I’m after anyway. I am however thrilled about not peeing when I sneezed yesterday!! Now THAT is what I’m after!
Here are a few things you can change right now if you think you have diastasis recti:
- Don’t panic. Every woman that has given birth has had diastasis recti. It is normal for your abs to move apart to accommodate your growing baby. For many women, their abs return to normal within the first few months after giving birth and they have no issues with bladder leakage or back pain. For some women (like myself), the ab gap does not close on its own and other issues like bladder leakage occur yay! Lol
- There are things you can do to narrow the gap and improve function without surgery and it’s never too late. It doesn’t matter if you are 12 months post-partum or 12 years.
- Don’t jack knife out of bed. Instead, roll to your side and push yourself up with the help of one arm. The same goes for when you want to get into and out of a laying down position for exercises.
- Avoid crunches, bicycle kicks, planks or full pushups or anything that makes your tummy bulge out while you do it as this can make your gap worse.
- When you find success in closing your ab separation, use caution when returning to traditional ab exercises. You could be reversing the progress you have made.