After pregnancy everyone talks about the mummy tummy, and in pretty much every postnatal class I get asked about Diastasis Recti. It is defined as a stretching/lengthening/weakening of not only the Linea Alba (as many are told) but the entire abdominal wall that occurs during Pregnancy and remains into the Post Natal period. Many women have an inter-recti distance that would be considered a Diastasis without ever having given birth, so do not worry about the gap. Functionality of the core is not necessarily dependent on the Diastasis closing / the two bellies of the Rectus Abdominis (six pack muscle) being totally proximal to each other. Functionality is more reliant on the capacity for the core to regain integrity and be able to withstand intra-abdominal pressure and transfer load well – pooch mummy tummies, enduring Diastasis, backpain and a leaky pelvic floor all demonstrate dysfunction and poor load transfer.
What is the answer to this problem?
Exercise is one, the abdominal wall requires a degree of loading to heal/regenerate/reconstruct, but the right kind, the right amount and at the right time. Appropriate nutrition and hydration is an absolute essential during this recovery period. Many Diastases heal of their own accord - mother nature is kind to some women. But, some abdominal walls are beyond repair and need surgical intervention to re-establish forced closure. Your genetics also play a part in poor recovery of your tissues. Key tips are just to go slowly and be careful of the exercise you complete. If you feel unable to do something and not in control of the exercise then it is time to stop, take a step back. Crunches may not be appropriate but a very wide list of exercise possibilities still remain, just broaden your exercise regime noting that achy abdominals are not what we are after – we are targeting healing/regeneration and reconstruction.