It’s June and time for part 2 of the Diastasis Recti blog! Last month, we discussed what Diastasis Recti is and how you can test yourself for it. This month, we will talk about Diastasis Recti exercises – which ones you should do, and which ones you should avoid. It’s important to understand the proper body mechanics for performing everyday tasks safely.

Step 1: Breathing Coordination

Learn how to coordinate your breathing with the contraction of your pelvic floor.

  • Start by laying on your back in a comfortable position.
  • Take a belly breath IN while relaxing your pelvic floor and allowing it to bulge down.
  • Blow your belly breath OUT while contracting and pulling up your pelvic floor.

This is a sub-maximal contraction (not 100% effort, use only 60-70% effort). Repeat this for several minutes daily to work on re-educating your pelvic floor muscles.

Step 2: Body Mechanics

(Please see videos below for further information and demonstration.)

  • Log roll to transition from lying down to sitting up:
    • Start by lying on your back and bending knees to put feet flat on the bed.
    • Contract your pelvic floor and lift hips up off of the bed to bridge and shift your body to the center of the bed. This will allow room for you to roll to the edge.
    • Keep knees and feet together while dropping them to the side you are rolling to. Bring your shoulder and trunk over with your legs so you roll as one unit like a log.
    • Use your top hand on the bed to assist in pushing your trunk up as the feet come down and off of the bed. The goal is to time this so it has a teeter-totter effect to help you come up to sitting with less effort, less strain to your core, and no twisting at your spine.
  • Getting baby out of the crib:
    • Start in power stance position (one foot in front of the other with wide legs and knees bent).
    • Do a hip hinge by sitting back with hips and squatting, while back stays straight and trunk comes forward to reach into the crib.
    • Reach in to pick up baby and bring them in so they are snug to your body. Return to standing by doing a pelvic floor contraction first and then contract legs and buttocks to be the force to return to standing. This is essentially doing a modified dead lift. Your back should not feel the strain, you should feel this in your buttocks and hamstring (back of thighs) region.

Step 3: Diastasis Recti Exercises

(Please see videos below for further information and demonstration.)

  • Hip Drop Out
    • Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the bed or floor.
    • Start with pelvic floor and breathing coordination (Step 1).
    • With a slow breath OUT, let right knee drop out the side slightly (not too far). The goal is to not let your pelvic bones shift or rock on the floor or bed.
    • With a slow breath IN, return knee to starting position.
    • Switch legs and repeat 5-10 times (or until fatigued) each side, depending on your strength level and endurance.
  • Supine Marching
    • Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the bed or floor.
    • Start with pelvic floor and breathing coordination (Step 1).
    • With a slow breath OUT, lift right foot 2 inches off of the floor. The goal is again to not let the pelvic bones move/rock around.
    • With a slow breath IN, set foot back on the table or floor.
    • Alternate sides and repeat 5-10 times or until fatigued.

Step 4: Exercises to Avoid

  • Crunches/sit ups
  • Downward Facing Dog
  • Plank until notified by PT
  • Heavy core muscle activation exercises without prior training
  • Running or high intensity interval training

Talk with your PT about other DR considerations, ie. bowel movements, yoga exercise, and return- to-sport programs. DR should be taken seriously and working through a step-by-step program, with specific Diastasis Recti exercises, can be very beneficial.