Workout tips: 19 best exercises for repairing diastasis recti postpartum | Health

Diastasis recti is a health condition where the gap between your rectus abdominis (aka 6 pack) muscles widens in the middle due to stretching of the connective tissue (linea alba) and this condition causes a feeling of instability and/or coning/doming/bulging of the abdominal area. It is also known as mummy tummy or mummy pouch, where women may appear to be “still pregnant”, and pregnant women or obese people are prone to get this condition, which increases intraabdominal pressure.

Abdominal fat pushing through the connective tissue weakens and thins the connective tissue, or the pressure of the uterus or childbirth putting pressure on the connective tissue can cause a lot of changes in intra-abdominal pressure. Diastasis recti is caused by pregnancy hormones and the enlargement of the uterus, where the weight of the fetus pushes down on the pelvis, so it is necessary to avoid any exercise that puts pressure on the protruding abdomen and avoid heavy lifting exercises. For you to rotate your spine or spine extension movement.

These can increase the pressure on your abdominal tissues and health experts suggest that you follow proper breathing techniques and exhale properly while exercising. It helps to avoid creating any compression in the abdominal cavity and some therapeutic exercises can be done to correct diastasis recti, build good core muscles and strengthen the abdominal muscles.

In an interview to HT Lifestyle, Dr. Shilpi Sachdev, MBBS, DNB, DMAS, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Apollo Cradle and Children’s Hospital, Delhi, says, “Growing belly, bloated belly and stretch marks are not the changes of a woman. The middle part goes through postpartum. 1 in 2 pregnant women experience diastasis recti or ab separation after birth. Visually, diastasis recti may look like a bulge or pooch in the abdomen but physically, it can cause abdominal weakness, back pain and poor posture.

She advises, “Instead of rushing into weight loss or weight lifting exercises, women should start with recti-friendly exercises that speed up healing and strengthen the core. Targeted exercises designed to correct diastasis recti can help close the gap and strengthen the abdominal muscles.”

They revealed the best exercises to correct postpartum diastasis recti:

1. Abdominal contraction – Sit straight with knees bent at 90 degrees and spine long. Place hands on stomach and breathe normally. Try to squeeze the abs and pelvic floor up and into the spine as you exhale. Relax on the inhale and repeat in a slow and controlled rhythm.

2. Pelvic tilts – Keep the feet flat with the hands at the sides with the knees bent and palms facing up. Slowly rotate the hips toward the face, engaging the core by rotating the hips up so the entire spine is against the floor. Hold the position for one second and then relax.

3. Glue Bridge – Bend knees and feet hip-width apart with heels close to buttocks and arms by sides. Push through the heels to lift the hips and lower the back off the floor, squeezing the glutes at the top. Hold for a second, then relax. Avoid overextending the lower back.

4. Toe Taps – Lay flat on back with arms at sides and bring legs into a 90-degree bend in the air. Open the legs while lowering the toes towards the floor. After tapping the toes on the floor, hold for a moment and return to the original position.

5. Knee boards – Rest the knees on the floor and keep the shoulders straight over the wrists. Tuck into the pelvis to engage the core and hold the position for 15 seconds. Gradually increase the time, working up to 30 seconds and at least 2 repetitions.

According to Binita Kar, a premium trainer at MyHealthBuddy, understanding breathing, core muscles and posture is important to begin healing diastasis recti. He lists exercises that can help you heal DR:

1. Practice diaphragmatic breathing – It sounds really simple and easy but many people are unable to practice proper breathing pattern. Practice taking slow, deep breaths while stretching the ribs 3D. During inhalation the diaphragm contracts and moves down and the lungs expand. Breathing into our diaphragm helps brace the functional core and strengthen the trunk. Inconsistent or improper breathing can put extra stress on your abdominal muscles, worsening diastasis recti symptoms.

2. Practice good posture – Aligning our body by placing the pelvis under the ribs is important for recruiting our core muscles. An anterior or posterior tilt affects our ability to properly strengthen the core muscles under load and creates a feeling of instability.

3. Dead Bug – This is a very helpful exercise that activates your transverse abdominis, pelvic floor muscles and erector spinae to give you a stable and strong core.

4. Glue Bridge – This is an excellent workout for combining core activation and stabilization for the lower body. It works on the glute muscles, hip flexors and lower back muscles.

5. Functional movements – It is important to practice dynamic movements like lifting the baby, sitting down to pick something. As mothers you will be doing a lot of carrying and lifting and squatting so the brace is able to maintain core and tension.

He cautions, “Some exercises you should avoid are crunches, leg raises, jumping, jumping, running which increase intra-abdominal pressure and cause more swelling in the connective tissue. It is important to understand that specific exercises do not help to cure DR, rather the whole body needs to be worked on, starting with breathing, and how your body reacts under load.

Dr Ranjana Dhanu, Consultant, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Khar, points out, “During pregnancy, as the uterus expands almost to the size of a watermelon, the rectus becomes detached and becomes connective tissue. Both rectus muscles are weakened. Simultaneously with excessive abdominal distention in the 3rd trimester, the transverse abdominal muscles on both sides of the abdomen drop. Postpartum abdominal decompression with intermuscular rent is obvious and cosmetically compromised. Most of our patients today have this natural desire to get back in shape in the postpartum period. In addition to cosmetic effects, diastasis recti also manifests with low back pain and discomfort. Simple exercises have been designed for women suffering from this condition and have helped women regain their abdominal tone.

These exercises can be done at home, require no fancy equipment and can be performed on an empty stomach (fasting for at least 2 1/2 hours is best as gastric emptying time is about 2 hours) and can be done. Done on a yoga mat:

Exercise number 1: Stomach vacuum

Exercise number 2: Abdominal vacuum with march

Exercise No. 3: Stomach vacuum with bridge

Exercise No. 4: Cross planks

He said, “This exercise has been proven to be very effective if adopted within 3 weeks of normal delivery and 6 weeks post C-section. A consistent, regular and daily routine is advised for 6 to 8 weeks for maximum results. Some prerequisites for best results include engaging in healthy diets, portion control with ghee-loaded lactagogues, keeping thyroid levels and sugar levels under control, and maintaining normal levels of hemoglobin, vitamin B12, D3, and calcium.

Listing five different exercises you can try at home, Dr Kavitha Pujar, senior consultant at Kinder Women’s Hospital and Fertility Centre, Bengaluru, shares:

1. Pelvic brace – Lie on your back. Bend your knees. Form a triangle with your hands by placing them on the hips. Exhale and contract your hip muscles from back to front. While doing so, tense your lower abdominal muscles and hold for about 3-5 seconds. Repeat 15 times once or twice a day.

2. Bridging the gap – While lying on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet flat. Press your lower back into the floor and lift your head as high as you can while holding your hips. Leave during the process. Exhale as you release your lower back and keep your head back. Repeat this 10 to 20 times, twice a day.

3. Chair Position – Lie on your back. Place your calves on a chair with your hips and knees positioned at a 90-degree angle. Inhale and get ready to move your calves. Exhale as you raise your calves and create tension in your abdominal muscles. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat this one to four times a week.

4. Toe Dips – Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands by your sides. Raise your legs and keep in chair position without any chair. Inhale. Next, as you inhale, use your shoulder blades or raise your head and hold the position. Now, gradually lower your right leg while bending. Repeat the process with the left leg.

5. Bird Dog – Get on your hands and knees, keeping your spine in a neutral position. Inhale, then exhale and raise the right leg and left arm, maintaining the pelvic brace and keeping the spine neutral. Inhale and let your arms and legs return to the floor. Repeat this 10-15 times on each side.

After allowing the body enough time to heal, women with diastasis recti can incorporate these exercises to repair and rebuild their core. Women who practice these exercises should begin to see improvements within 6 to 8 weeks. Remember, patience is the key to success.

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