Mar 29

Diastasis Recti: Why does my back hurt?

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Diastasis recti is the separation of the abdomen muscles (aka our six pack), It’s totally normal to occur during pregnancy as our bodies have to make space for the growing baby. 

The trouble is that this separation can weaken our core and, left unchecked, this can lead to back pain and contribute to poor posture and alignment. Whether you are a new mum or seasoned parent, dealing with back pain is difficult and can cause all sorts of disruptions to life. 


How can I reduce my back pain?

The first step to alleviating the pain is to get to the core of the problem…our core! By ‘closing the gap’ and addressing our abdominal function, we can relieve the pressure on our spinal muscles and ensure that our back is not doing all the work. 


Exercises To Help Diastasis Recti

For anyone who DOES have time to exercise, here are some useful exercises to kick start your movement practice but in an ideal world I would find a local pregnancy and postnatal specialist trained by Carolyne Anthony or Jenny Burrell as there is no substitute for good teaching! Or come and work with me in my online membership! 

These exercises should only be performed after you have had clearance from your GP to exercise again. I would recommend that you also see a Women’s Health Physio before starting any exercise postnatally.



Sidelying Ribcage Rock
  • Lie on your side with both arms extended forwards at chest level with the palms together
  • Inhale to rock the ribcage forward while at the same time rocking the pelvis back
  • Exhale to rock the ribcage back as you rock the pelvis forward
  • Repeat then change sides

This is really helpful as it will mobilise the tissues around your ribcage and torso that could be causing tension that is preventing good function in your abdominals.


Double Knee Openings
  • Lie in neutral spine with your feet together. 
  • Exhale to allow your abdominals to flatten
  • Draw your hip bones towards each other and open both knees out to the side – focus on keeping the pelvis still as the legs move
  • Inhale to hold the legs there, exhale to connect to your abdominals again and pull the legs back together again. 
  • Think of the legs being heavy and using your abdominals to pull them back to the middle.

When working in neutral spine many postnatal women benefit from a higher head position (cushion/ block) to allow the back of the ribcage to stay released into the mat whilst the lower back can maintain its neutral curve. If neutral spine is uncomfortable for you, look at the positioning of the head.

This exercise will help to connect you to your deep core muscles. 


Single Knee Openings
  • Lie in semi-supine
  • Exhale to allow your abdominals to relax then draw your sit bones, hip bones and rib cage together
  • Open one leg out to the side
  • Inhale and hold it
  • Exhale to bring it back to parallel
  • Repeat with the other leg. 

Focus on keeping the pelvis and especially the supporting leg still and releasing as the other leg moves.


Pelvic Tilts
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent up and feet flat on the floor
  • Make sure that the feet are parallel to each other and be aware of the big toe joint connecting into the floor. 
  • Exhale to gently flatten your lower back so that your lower spine softens into the floor (rolling your pelvis under and thinking of bringing your pubic bone and your rib cage towards each other). 
  • Inhale and release back into neutral, allowing your hip flexors to release, the pelvic floor to open. 


As a variation:

  • Hold the pelvis in the tilt (if you can, try not to fully release on the in breath, keeping some connection)
  • Exhale to connect again
  • Visualising the abdominals drawing back into the middle
  • Have an awareness of your pelvic floor connecting as your ribcage is softening and the pelvic floor connecting the sit bones into the inner thighs and big toe joints with every out breath. 
  • Repeat the breathing 5 times.
  • Release the pelvis back to the floor.


Postnatal Classes with Centred Mums

All of our postnatal classes can help with your abdominal separation. We have designed each class to ensure it only contains exercises that will assist your recovery, and we will always encourage you to work at your own pace and listen to your body.

When it comes to dysfunctions like Diastasis Recti, you are often warned against exercises such as sit-ups, but we will teach you that it isn’t about the exercise but about the level of control you have. If your abdominals ‘dome’ and push out when you do a sit-up, then this isn’t a good exercise for you. But plenty of people who don’t have a diastasis also dome, and it’s not a good exercise for them either.

We’re here to assure you that you don’t be scared to move and to use your body, you simply need to learn how to use it better.

With a better understanding of what your postnatal body needs, you can avoid pushing yourself into exercises and movements that won’t serve you well in the long term. And, as experts in this, we can confidently support you through making these important changes and bring you great results with our postnatal classes or our online membership!

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