Maybe you are! Diastasis recti is a fancy latin word for a tear or separation of the linea alba, the line of connective tissue that connects the two halves of our six pack muscles (the rectus abdominus). It is a relatively common occurrence during pregnancy or delivery as the hormones of pregnancy cause the linea alba to soften, all while a growing baby pushes against the abdominal wall. While the actual tear, or separation, might sound excruciating, most women don’t even know that it’s happened! This does not mean to say that a separation will not cause pain in the long run if steps are not taken to help the healing process. When our abdominals are not connected they will not function properly, putting excess pressure on the back muscles just at a time when we need them most!! The sport of “Mommy-hood” is much more challenging than anything you will find in the gym!
So, what to do?
First, let’s check to see if your recti have split. You can do this to yourself, or have someone check for you. Lie on the ground, roll your head and shoulders off the ground, contracting your abdominals. Slide your fingers into the groove that separates the middle of the abdominal wall and trace that line from below your chest all the way down to the belly button. A slight gap of about 1/2 to 1 finger width is normal, any more than 2 fingers wide, however, likely means you have separation. If you are split, it is more likely that you will find it closer to the navel.
Ok, now that you have checked yourself, what to do if you are split? Avoid any big rotational movements as this can cause the muscles to separate farther, especially lifting weight (like baby) from a rotated position.
To correct the musculature, we need to help the healing process along with this simple corrective exercise. The goal here is to simply get the two halves of the abdominal wall close enough so that they have the ability to heal back together!
To start: lie on your back with knees bent. Place your hands over your abdominals, slightly pressing the fingers into the abdominal wall. Take a deep breath.
Action: As you exhale, pull the abdominal muscles toward each other with the fingers as you press your navel to your spine. Imagine that you are tightening a cummerbund around your torso as you use your hands to “splint” the abdominals together. Work this exercise into your daily routine- a few times in the morning and a few times in the evening- you can even do it in bed! It will take some time, but before you know it, your core will be good as new!