What is DIASTASIS RECTI? Because I have it.

After #1 baby was born, my midwife mentioned that I had a slight Diastasis and that it might heal on its own. I didn’t pay much attention to it, got back into shape and didn’t worry too much. I noticed the gap but I felt it wasn’t a problem. After baby #2, she mentioned it again and said that maybe there was some physical therapy I could do to heal it. I didn’t really understand that it was an issue that could cause problems with posture, digestion, elimination of waste, gastrointestinal tract, as well as creating chronic low back pain, pelvic floor issues (incontinence, prolapse ) hip issues, protruding belly button and hernia.

Diastasis-Recti-V3

In fact, largely separated muscles and a lax linea alba are a weakened support system. Limited support can lead to imbalanced muscle tone, postural deficiencies, and injuries that are waiting to happen. If untreated you will eventually train your body to rely on other muscles (e.g. hip flexors) to stabilize your pelvis because the anterior core is now useless to you. As a result, your low back pain will be rampant and you’ll continue to look 5 months pregnant well into the postpartum stage. You will have a  potentially bigger separation, a mummy tummy that won’t quit, and zero progress in training.”

diastasis recti

I just didn’t worry about it. At about 4 months post partum I jumped back into my adored Beachbody workouts starting with Piyo (lost 11 lbs), then to Chalean Extreme (Lost 10 lbs) and then on to Body Beast (maintained, built muscle). I thought that after finishing Body Beast I would be one ripped chica! And for the most part I was! My arms were strong and toned, my legs had shape and my butt was hard as a rock! But my abs looked the same if not a little bit worse than before. I thought I would be totally shredded! And I started to wonder more about this Diastasis thing. I started researching it and realized that I had been doing A LOT of moves that can actually worsen a diastasis in your abdomen such as downward dog, crunches, pilates 100, plank, pushups (WAAA), a jack knife motion when you get out of bed, heavy lifting, splaying your ribs, etc.

diastasis recti

So the reason I was losing inches and toning up in other places and not my abs is because my muscles were/are spread apart 2.5 finger widths! There is no physical way I could get smaller because my abs aren’t even in the right place! No wonder my belly button has always looked saggy after having kiddos! There has been no muscle behind it, only weak connective tissue!

diastasis recti

This means that:

  1. I have to do rehab exercises (I bought the Tupler Technique Program) 3 times a day and wear a splint that pulls my abs together.
  2. I have to stop my Beachbody workouts until this heals (WAAAA !!) Like, seriously??? (dagger to the heart!)
  3. AND with a Diastasis, even AFTER you close it, you still have to do the rehab exercises daily AND avoid movements (as before mentioned) that will open it back up, WHA??

So some of my favorite yoga poses and workout moves are out the window, FOREVER. I will always have to be modifying a workout most likely instead of pushing myself to the limit.

I just spent all this time getting into a strong mental state and changing my body into its best shape and now, while I heal, all I can do are tiny ab movements and walking?? This could take weeks or a year or more! That’s a BIG blow to me. I LOVE pushups! I love LIFTING HEAVY. I love PILATES. And plank workouts are the best!

I hate feeling limited.

And most of the time I don’t put any limits on myself when it comes to achieving things. The sky is the limit, I just have to work hard! But this brings a ceiling to my fitness regimen and really bums me out. Like REALLY.

disastasis recti

But I am focusing on being positive. And seeing all I can learn from this.

At least now I will:

  1. Have a better perspective for those I coach who have limitations. I’ll know firsthand how mentally challenging it can be to NOT be able to do all the moves.
  2. I’ll know what it’s like to stick with a regimen (my rehab exercises) that I don’t love in order to achieve a desired result. Because let’s be honest, I love working out most of the time!
  3. Avoid any side effects from having a diastasis, get a solid six pack and lose inches on my waist? I can do it!
  4. I’ll get MORE experience on overcoming something difficult because closing this gap is going to take patience and consistency. I’m already very aware that it’s not going to be easy because this splint I have to wear, ITCHES and is VERY uncomfortable. And I have to wear it 23 hours and 45 minutes a day!! But I figure I cloth diaper, I birthed two babies unmedicated and I’m homeschooling, so I can handle anything right??

And in the end, I’d take birthing and raising my two girls over being able to work out a certain way. To be a mama, you pay a high price daily. And sometimes that is easy to forget. We want it to get easier! At least I do. But it’s never going to. There will always be something! So I just need to toughen up and be grateful. This is just one more thing I get to work through in order to have my wonderful family. And at least my life is not in danger! So grateful for that.

Moral of the story: Do the Tupler Technique WHILE you are pregnant! And right after! Don’t go get in shape and THEN have to backtrack! Fix your Diastasis Recti while you are taking it easy anyways!

My journey towards healing my diastasis began yesterday! I just barely hit 24 hours of wearing my splint… yay me! I will be sharing my journey as I go! Aside from being bummed about this, I am excited for my stomach to heal and get better.

Here are my before pics! (Don’t mind my dirty mirror, I’m a young mom of 2!)

diastasis recti

diastasis recti

Measurements:

3 in above belly button: 29 1/2 in

Belly button: 33/33.25 in

3 in below belly button: 34.5 in

 

Who normally gets it?

Diastasis of this muscle occurs principally in two populations: newborns and pregnant women. It is also known to occur in men who are overweight or obese.

  • In the newborn, the rectus abdominis is not fully developed and may not be sealed together at midline. Diastasis recti is more common in premature and black newborns.
  • In pregnant or postpartum women, the condition is caused by the stretching of the rectus abdominis by the growing uterus. It is more common in multiparous women due to repeated episodes of stretching. When the defect occurs during pregnancy, the uterus can sometimes be seen bulging through the abdominal wall beneath the skin.
  • Women are more susceptible to develop diastasis recti when over the age of 35, high birth weight of child, multiple birth pregnancy, and multiple pregnancies. Additional causes can be attributed to excessive abdominal exercises after the first trimester of pregnancy.[4]

How to check yourself for Diastasis Recti:

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent @ a 90 degree angle with feet flat on the floor and head on the floor.
2. Place your three middle fingers in the upper part of your abdominal region pointing in the direction of your toes.
3. Relax your abdominal muscles and lift your head up slightly. DO NOT pull abdominal muscles in as you lift your head, this will give you an incorrect analysis.
4. When you first start feeling the muscles come together, that is when you count to check to see how big the gap is. Release your head back down to the floor and then lift it again, repeat to make sure you get an accurate reading.
5. Add a finger if you do not feel the side of the muscles with 3 fingers. Likewise, remove a finger if you don’t have room for the third finger.

6. Check at the top of your abdominals, then move down to the belly button( about 3 inches) then again down below the belly button

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4 thoughts on “What is DIASTASIS RECTI? Because I have it.

    1. Thank you Dad for being so vocal in everything I share online. It makes me feel like you even more present in my life since we can’t spend every moment together. Your opinion and encouragement means so much to me. Thank you for building me up and seeing me.

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