May 23

Will Diastasis Recti heal with weight loss?

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So many new (and not so new) mums are shocked by how much pregnancy changes their body – both in how it looks and how it feels. 

Regardless of your fitness levels, it’s impossible to not notice how our bodies have changed once a baby has arrived. Over 60% of women in the UK have diastasis recti at 6 weeks following pregnancy although this reduces over time postnatally and by 12 months postnatal is just over 30%. Although a fairly common condition, it can cause a lot of distress and discomfort. 

Diastasis recti happens during pregnancy as a result of the rectus abdominal muscles (or six pack) separating to accommodate the growing baby. This is a totally normal process and not something to worry about but sometimes the connective tissue around the muscles can overstretch and leave a dysfunctional abdominal wall and a gap between the rectus muscles. 

This can result in a bulge or dome around the belly and can leave people feeling that they are still a few months pregnant. 


How do you know if you have an abdominal separation?

  • Lift your upper body slightly, as if you are doing a crunch. 
  • Gently use your index and middle finger to push down in the centre of your tummy (near your belly button). 
  • If you feel more than two fingers width of space then you may have diastasis recti
  • Now feel for the depth of the tissues – hopefully, you will find some resistance under your fingers but if you find that it is really deep this is another potential flag of some dysfunction. 

Here is a useful video that can help you identify if you have diastasis recti. 


Can weight loss heal abdominal separation?

In a word, no! This isn’t about your weight – it is a fascial issue that is all about getting the abdominals to function more efficiently. Your belly size may decrease with weight loss but if you have abdominal separation, the best way to close it is to get the abdominals functioning better. 

I want to make one thing clear – you aren’t broken. Instead, we just need to help things to function better in a way that helps to heal the separation. 

Diastasis recti is a core function issue problem. It’s about healing and creating more balance in the tissues. This can be helped by gaining strength but for many people it is also about stopping other areas (such as the ribcage and obliques) from gripping. 

For the majority of women, it can be effectively treated with a good exercise programme and the right nutrition. Some really great exercises include:

  • Diaphragmatic Breathing (when you breathe too much into your belly you increase the pressure and this can contribute to diastasis)
  • Side Bends (this will help to mobilise your rib cage and reduce the pressure described above)
  • Knee floats (one of my favourites for deep core strength – but make sure you aren’t gripping and are engaging your abdominals correctly – you might need some help with this) 
  • Heel Slides (see knee floats!) 

I have a whole blog post detailing some simple exercises you can do to help heal your abdominal separation.

I do also want to stress that it is important to be kind to yourself and your body – especially if you have recently given birth (it has just done an incredible thing!). There is plenty of time to get this sorted – I have helped mums to rehab their abdominals with kids in their teens so (although if you have the time and energy to get it sorted sooner that is great) there is no rush. 

If you haven’t already seen a Women’s Health Physio, make sure you go and get some advice from someone in person. Get your pelvic floor checked for as much support as possible. You can look for a local physio here.


Join The Pelvic Floor Project

The Pelvic Floor Project online membership will help you to get you to a place where you can stop worrying about your core function, live your life as you want to, exercise as you want to and understand what works for your body and what doesn’t.

Pelvic floor and abdominal dysfunction needs to be treated as a full body issue. It’s not just about strengthening your core, it’s about how your body works as a whole – how your posture, your breathing and your daily movement patterns impact your pelvic floor function.

I have created this holistic approach to improve your abdominal function and long-term pelvic floor health with pelvic floor and diastasis recti-friendly Pilates, support and accountability.

Whether your baby is 6 months old or about to turn 16, you need to gift yourself a proper rehab programme for your pelvic floor and core. Make a commitment to your wellbeing and pelvic floor freedom and rediscover the joy of movement!

Join the Pelvic Floor Programme today.

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