Fixing the problem:
If you have a diastasis recti problem 8 weeks or more postpartum, you’ll need some help to fix it. The best course of action is to have a physical therapist who specializes in women’s health and diastasis recti examine you and prescribe an exercise program that is individually tailored to your body and the way you move. If you can’t find one near you here, don’t worry, the lists are not all-inclusive. Make a phone call to your nearest physical therapy clinic and ask – rehab is a small world, and they’ll be able to direct you to someone who can help.
Important Note: If you have a diastasis recti >2cm, do not do any of the crunches, planks, negative sit-ups, double leg curls, or double leg lowering in this program unless your physical therapist tells you it’s okay. Instead, do another round of your core drill and keep the video rolling.
Diastasis recti is actually a hot topic of debate in rehab circles. There is a lot of conflicting information available (often from reputable-sounding sources and videos) about exercises that help or hinder a diastasis recti problem to heal. Some sources say to do crunches, and others say crunches will make it worse. Some sources say to do planks, and others say planks will make it worse. Some say to wear an abdominal brace, and others (me included, for most situations) say the brace can make it worse.
Part of the problem is that there is no research to show that one particular method is the gold standard for “fixing” a diastasis recti problem. For someone with a diastasis recti problem, this state of affairs can be very frustrating. Not only can diastasis recti negatively affect the way your belly appears (by causing it to “pooch out”), but a separation like this can alter the way your abdominal muscles perform, and since the muscle affected, the rectus abdominis, is an integral part of your core, that affects everything that you do.1,2
There are off-the-shelf programs designed to help women with diastasis recti, and if going to see a physical therapist for an individual treatment program just isn’t an option, choosing a program focused on transversus abdominis strengthening is a better option than choosing one focused solely on the rectus abdominis. One program out there (that I have not personally tried, and who I am not affiliated with in any way) that puts a healthy amount of focus on posture, function, and transversus abdominis strengthening, is the MuTu System.
Of course, I recommend an individualized program with a physical therapist, but if you are going to purchase a ready-made program or otherwise go it alone, there are a few consistent trends supported by research to show what is helpful and what does not work.1-3