Why Diastasis Recti is Probably Not a Big Deal!
This post will probably cost me some business since most of my training income comes from postnatal recovery and core correction. But my women are way too important to me to keep silent any longer. One thing that I absolutely refuse to do is sell anything through unwarranted fear. If I have unconsciously contributed to this recent fear, I apologize and want to explain why you moms don’t need to be afraid of DR.
I don’t know what’s happened this last year or so, but suddenly many women are coming to me scared and worried because they think they have ab separation or been told they have three or four finger diastasis! Three finger DR especially is no big deal!!! and usually very easy to correct with a few simple exercises or a good workout program.
At least 80% of my training the last 5 years has been postpartum recovery and core correction and I didn’t see this fear until recently. Only the rare woman would come in freaked out because she could stick her entire fist right through her abdominal wall. Understandable!!
However, most asked for training simply because they didn’t like their “baby pooch” or “mommy tummy” and wanted to improve the appearance of their abs or get their pre-pregnancy body back. Totally understandable!
Now I see a LOT of fear! Ladies, please don’t worry!
There is so much misinformation around this topic.
(“How do you pronounce it?” is often a question Lol.
First, studies now show 100% of women carrying to full term will have some degree of diastasis recti.
(Note: even men can get it!)
Secondly, only a medical professional, such as a doctor or physiotherapist is licensed to check your diastasis recti. Ultrasound is most accurate. I’ve been trained how to check for it and will instruct you how to check for and measure your DR. And I will assist if you ask (with a disclaimer and because we have no physiotherapist right in our town, and women’s health and pelvic floor PTs are as far away as Grande Prairie and Edmonton!). It’s quite simple to learn and it’s best if you do it yourself because always using the same fingers offers the most accurate measurement. Also, try to measure the same time of day.
When I began core corrective training, I would get really frustrated when women would tell me they weren’t checked for DR at their 6-week postpartum appointment. Only after my fourth certification course in core correction and talking to different health professionals, it’s more understandable why they don’t. It is hardly ever a medical concern, and they have bigger things to worry about.
I asked an ultrasound technician how often they received a requisition for a DR measurement. She looked at me a little puzzled and replied, “Almost never. It’s not a health concern. And why go to that time and expense when it’s so easy to learn to do yourself.”
I have trained hundreds of women and I can now confidently tell you, DR is one of the least of your worries!
It does not cause pelvic floor issues and surprisingly, the most recent study showed there was no difference in back pain between women who had diastasis recti, and those who did not! Wow!!!
How do you fix it? What exercises should I do? What exercises should I avoid? We all hate that answer but it all depends! I work on breath, posture and controlling core pressure and take it from there. A lot of exercises you’ve been told are off limits might not be for you.
Of course you want to exercise and build strong abdominal muscles for a strong, pain-free back, but you can usually obtain that even with a DR. Diastasis recti involves your connective tissue and isn’t a muscle. The injury I see most severely affect the quality of women’s lives are shoulder injuries hands down! Then neck, back, pelvic floor weakness and knee injuries. I didn’t put the last ones in order because they depend so much on women’s lifestyles and stressors, but pelvic floor issues are probably the second biggest cause of concern for most women I work with and talk to.
If anything postpartum should be a concern, it’s your shoulder health and pelvic floor strength. Not being able to lift an arm or sleep well because it’s so painful, or a weak pelvic floor and prolapse are NOT fun to live with or easy to get treatment for. (Our healthcare system has definitely failed in the area of women’s health, but I will leave those topics for another time.)
For now, please don’t worry about your DR too much. Work on it only if YOU want to and have recovered from sleepless nights, or it’s truly a medical concern. Celebrate how amazing your body is, what it is capable of and love on it
Don’t be scared into thinking you have to fix your DR or something terrible will happen. As women, we have enough real, legitimate fears to deal with, right?