Yikes! You are noticing all the symptoms of diastasis recti – weakness in your core or pelvic floor, lower back pain, digestive issues and overall discomfort. Whether you just had a baby and you are setting out to fix your diastasis recti now, or if you just didn’t have time or knowledge in those immediate postpartum days, you may be wondering, how can I fix my diastasis recti, even if it’s years later?
If you want a strong core, and relief for your diastasis symptoms, you are in the right place. In this article, we are going to go over what it takes to heal diastasis recti years later or right away.
The good news is, proper exercises, time and consistency can fix most cases of Diastasis Recti. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Diastasis Recti?
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Diastasis Recti is a condition where the right and left sides of the rectus abdominis muscles separate. This separation occurs along the linea alba, which is the connective tissue that runs down the middle of the abdominal wall. The condition is commonly associated with pregnancy, as the growing uterus places pressure on the abdominal muscles, causing them to stretch and separate. However, Diastasis Recti can also occur in men and women who have not been pregnant.
If you need a visual guide to what abdominal separation looks like – check out these diastasis recti pictures.
What Causes Diastasis Recti?
As previously mentioned, the most common cause of Diastasis Recti is pregnancy. However, there are other factors that can contribute to abdominal separation as well, including:
- Obesity: Excess weight and put pressure on the abdominal muscles, causing them to stretch and separate.
- Abdominal Surgery: Procedures that incolve the abdominal muscle, such a C-sections, can weaken the muscles and lead to Diastasis Recti.
- Poor Posture: Slouching or other poor postural habits can cause the abdominal muscles to weaken and separate.
- Heavy lifting: Regularly lifting heavy objects without proper technique can put strain on the abdominal muscles and cause them to separate.
It’s important for you to know the various factors that contribute to your abdominal separation if you are going to come up with a plan on how to fix you diastasis recti years later.
If you spend time working through exercises to heal your diastasis every day, but then spend the rest of the day with terrible posture and lifting things that are much too heavy for you, you may not see the progress you want. Which could be frustrating.
Especially if part of your day involves physical work or carrying kids around.
If you have daily activities you cannot avoid, like carrying baby #3 around in a carseat, it’s okay. Simply work on using proper form and keep your core engaged so that you do not worsen symptoms. If you are unsure about how to do this, it may be a good idea to spend some time with a physical therapist!
How To Create A Plan To Heal Your Diastasis Recti Years Later
The most difficult thing about healing diastasis recti is that there is not a cookie cutter, one size fits all approach. You need a plan that will help you improve the core function, tension and stability of the your abdominal muscles.
This requires that you learn how to engage and use the deepest layers of your core – the transverse abdominal muscles.
Learning to use these muscles is often a matter of breath exercises, kegel exercises and other more gentle exercises that activate your DEEP core muscles.
But it also requires that you learn how to use ALL your core muscles. There are A LOT of muscles that make up your core.
Your TVA, multifidus and pelvic floor muscles are the DEEP core muscles you should learn about first.
But to fully heal, you will need to work on the outer core muscles as well. These include your obliques, lats, traps and you may be surprised to hear, your glutes.
To strengthen ALL of your core muscle, you will need a WIDE VARIETY of core exercises, which may include, planks, situps and leg lifts.
The problem being, if you skip to working ALL your muscles before your DEEP muscles are ready, you may only worsen the problem.
Where To Start When Fixing Diastasis Recti
Phase one of fixing diastasis recti years later MUST be learning to properly activate the deep core muscles. The great thing is that there are medically studied exercise programs that have proven they can get you results. My favorite is called Every Mother.
Every Mother was created by a mom of three and fitness instructor named Leah Keller. She has created a revolutionary exercises system that has proven that it can resolve diastasis recti in clinical studies.
The way it works is you pick a program, then every day you have a set of exercises to complete. The different programs you can choose from are pregnancy, prenatal, diastasis recti, incontinence, sexual health and surgical recovery. In this case, you probably want the diastasis recti program. But, you get access to all of them with only one membership.
Leah teaches you exactly how to engage your deep core muscles properly. She helps you understand your own body and learn where your limits are. Over time, she helps you expand your limits and gain strength and stability in your deep core.
Weill Cornell Medical School collaborated with Leah to conduct a pilot study with 63 women, ALL of whom achieved full resolution of diastasis recti as they moved through her program.
These women were able to fix their diastasis recti, even years later. And I think you can too. If you’d like to get started with Leah, check out her program Every Mother.
Even if it has been years since you had kids, you should absolutely start at the beginning of the healing process, by gaining understanding and functionality in your deep core muscles. If you are looking for someone to assist you one on one through fixing your diastasis recti phase one, look for a physical therapist.
Where To Finish When Fixing Diastasis Recti
The deep core muscles are only one part of the entire abdominal system. One thing that may be frustrating is that Kegel and breathing exercises cannot and will not give you that toned sleek body that motivated them to work on their diastasis recti to begin with.
So how do you safely begin to move into more complex and well rounded core work? Well, if you followed Leah’s class, you know everything you need to know about keeping your deep core engaged as you move into more advanced work.
Now you need a wide range of varied exercises so you can move from beginner to advanced core work. Elise Joan does an amazing job of guiding moms through a blend of Barre + Pilates + Yoga classes that can add serious strength and functionality to your core in her program Barre Blend. (Which also comes with a pre and postnatal barre program!)
The Barre Blend program is part of the Bodi membership, so when you sign up for it, you also get more than 70+ other exercise programs you can stream any time from home. And, right now, you can get a day pass to try Barre Blend and the oher programs for only$7.
Trainer Elise Joan fuses the best of barre with proven fitness techniques to ramp up your results. She combines classic moves with light weights to help you sculpt and strengthen your entire body. Then she adds cardio intervals to help you burn more calories and fat for an allover transformation. Each 30- to 40-minute, full-body workout is designed to help you get leaner, stronger, and more flexible, with defined arms, a tight core, and a firm, lifted booty.
You can see my full review of her Barre Blend program here.
This is the next program we would recommend when trying to fix diastasis recti.
What Is The Difference Between Phase One And Phase Two Of Healing Diastasis Recti?
Of course, if you are looking to find one-on-one help to finish fixing your diastasis recti – look for a personal trainer in phase two.
Do you see the difference between phase one and phase two?
Phase one: heal, regain function, learn proper movement patterns, engage the deep core
Phase two: bring in intensity, strength and look for well rounded exercises that will activate and use your entire core system, not just the deep core.
Instead of focusing on exercising to get fit, put your focus on exercising at the right place for you. It is important to embrace the beginner stage.
And I promise, with time, effort and consistency, you will move from beginner, to advanced. From separation to beautiful six pack if that is your goal.
How Long Will It Take To Fix Diastasis Recti?
Healing persistent diastasis recti may take longer than you expect. Were you surprised there were two separate phases? You are not alone. Here’s what you should expect for a timeline as you fix diastasis recti years later.
The first thing to know is that you should see change or progress very soon!
As you begin using your core muscles more efficiently, you will see more comfort, ease and balance in your life quite quickly. Many people resolve some of their symptoms of diastasis recti before their abdominal gap is all the way closed because their movement becomes functional before they are completely healed.
So the good news is that you should see progress and increased comfort within the first couple weeks of working on fixing your diastasis recti.
Studies show that a targeted program like the one I mentioned above can reduce diastasis recti by 50% in just 8 weeks.
On the other hand, if you want to know how long it takes to completely heal your diastasis, the answer is a bit different.
For many moms it can take 6 to 12 months of consistent effort to heal more severe cases of diastasis recti through exercise.
The exact time frame for healing will be different for all us. But what is important to progressing on the path of healing is paying close attention to your body and adjusting work to your needs, consistent, regular effort over time, and programs that increase in challenge and intensity on the way.
Are There Exercises That Cannot Fix Diastasis Recti?
It may be confusing what can and cannot help you heal. A lot of the confusions happens because if you are in phase one, and doing phase two activities, you may worsen your abdominal separation.
One the other hand, if you complete phase one, and have excellent control and form with your deep abdominal muscles but never move on to phase two, because you are afraid of making things worse, you might plateau and never get to a place where you are fully healed.
Here are a few rules to guide your healing path:
- Pelvic floor muscles cannot heal diastasis recti on their own. This makes a lot of sense as the pelvic floor is only one part of the entire core. That doesn’t mean don’t do pelvic floor exercises. Pelvic floor exercises, like kegels, in addition to abdominal exercises are much more effective.
- Wait to do exercises like crunches, leg lifts, v-ups, backbends, and twisting exercises until you can maintain a belly to spine engagement with the deep core muscles. Until you can do them safely, modify and simplify your exercises until you can do them correctly.
- Repetition is important. Doing a workout once, or once a week is not going to be effective no matter how well designed it is. To see results aim for 30 minutes 5 times a week. Both the programs mentioned above use that schedule because it is what it takes to see changes in your body.
How To Fix Diastasis Recti Years Later Conclusion
We totally understand how frustrating it can be to have Diastasis Recti and want to fix it. We also know that it wasn’t until recently that it became popular to even talk about Diastasis. So if you’ve had it for years, and are looking for a path to healing, you are not alone.
But studies DO confirm that diastasis can heal with exercise and time.
First, learn to engage and use your DEEP core muscles. Then bring in the rest of the core and strengthen it all together.
We recommend you work with a physical therapist if you have any pain. If you’ve done that or you aren’t going to do that, follow specific programs designed for healing Diastasis and strengthening the core, over choosing a handful of random exercises to do at home. This is because your needs change over time. And what exercise is RIGHT for you will be different based on where you are in the healing process.
You can get a day pass to explore many workout programs that can help you restore your core for only $7.
If you aren’t sure which classes to start with, check out our guide on beachbody barre classes so you can figure out which one is the right level for you.
Know that you can always work with physical therapists and personal trainers if the at home programs seem overwhelming or you aren’t quite sure if you are doing things ‘right.”
Most people can absolutely fix their Diastasis Recti even years later! Are you starting your journey today?