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Pilates For Diastasis Recti: 5 Benefits

Pilates For Diastasis Recti: 5 Benefits

Diastasis recti is a common condition in pregnant and postpartum women. If you're looking for non-invasive treatment, pilates may help.

Written By

Nicole Kainz

Instructor
August 1, 2022

Have you noticed a belly bulge or pooch months to years after having your baby? Have you been experiencing backaches, poor posture, constipation, or urinary incontinence? While some of these things are normal after having a baby, you could actually have a condition called diastasis recti. 

What Is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti is the partial or complete separation of the rectus abdominis, or what you might call your “six-pack” muscles, which meet in the middle of your stomach.

Diastasis recti is very common during and following pregnancy — in fact, 60% of women experience the condition. This is most likely because the uterus stretches the muscles in the abdomen during pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby.

Symptoms of distasis recti include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Constipation
  • Low back discomfort
  • Poor posture
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Bloating
  • Bulging or pooched belly

How to Self-Check for Diastasis Recti

Unfortunately for new moms, the symptoms of this condition can seem obvious after giving birth. If you want to try and self-check at home here’s a simple step-by-step:

  1. Lay on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Raise your head and shoulders off the floor into what would look like a crunch position. Support your head and neck with one hand.
  3. On the other hand, feel above and below your belly button to see a gap.

You may have diastasis recti if you can fit one or two fingers between your abdominal muscles. Of course, always reach out to your doctor if you have concerns.

So, what do you do if you find out you have diastasis recti? Step one—build back up that core. 

5 Benefits of Pilates for Diastasis Recti

One of the best ways to strengthen your core is by practicing pilates. Pilates focuses on engagement of the core stabiliser muscles which consists of the diaphragm, transverse abdominis, pelvic floor muscles and multifidus. In pilates, you also focus on precise movement, while being mindful of your breathing. It’s a great, low-impact workout that is safe for pregnancy and beyond.

Engages the Core Stabilizing Muscles

When it comes to healing diastasis recti, it is all about building back your core muscles. During pregnancy, these muscles weaken and stretch as your belly and baby continue to grow. 

During postpartum, it is essential to retrain those muscles. As you build back your core, many of the symptoms of diastasis recti may fade away. 

Pilates Can Be Easily Modified

With diastasis recti, you may not be able to do certain movements you once could. You also don’t want to overdo it, potentially causing an injury. 

With pilates, there are many ways to easily modify your workout. Certain movements can exacerbate diastasis recti, with a pilates workout that is specific for diastasis recti, you are less likely to experience injury. 

Easy to Practice at Home

Being a new mom, leaving the house for a workout is not always an option. Luckily, there are many pilates programs online. You can set yourself up anywhere in the house and get your workout in.

Carve out a time that works for you and make this part of your self-care routine.

All You Need Is a Mat

A huge benefit to pilates is there is very little equipment required. All you really need is a mat, and even that is not a deal breaker. Pilates focuses on the movements that use your own bodyweight to build strength.

For a new mom, the ease of being able to practice pilates without cluttering the house with more things, is super helpful. 

Focuses on the Mind-Body Connection

Besides the benefit of strengthening your core muscles, pilates also focuses on the mind-body connection. The mind-body connection is the idea that your body and mind work together for your overall wellness.

When you are stressed, your body may feel tense. At the same time, if you have any aches in the body, it may cause you to be more anxious. 

In the postpartum period, your body is going so many changes. Focusing on this mind-body connection may help you boost your mood, relax your tense muscles, and be more mindful during your day. 

Strengthening this connection may also help you be more attuned with your body, allowing you to put more attention on healing your diastasis recti.

Are There Any Pilates Exercises That Are Not Safe for Diastasis Recti?

While pilates is a generally safe workout for pregnancy and postpartum, it’s always possible to cause strain when it comes to exercise. Let’s talk about some positions that you should steer clear of while healing your diastasis recti. These exercises could put too much stress on your abdomen muscles and worsen the problem. 

  • Forward flexion is essentially the act of bending forward
  • Exercises that cause extra intra-abdominal pressure—push-ups, planks, and sit-ups. 
  • Ab twists
  • Backbends
  • Heavy lifting

Once your diastasis recti have been corrected, you can add these exercises back into your practice. 

If you are unsure if your abdominal muscles are back to where they should be, set up an appointment with your doctor. 

In Conclusion

Diastasis recti is a common condition in pregnant and postpartum women. Symptoms include a belly pooch, constipation, bloating, and more. While it is caused by a gap in the abdominal muscles, this separation can be corrected with low-impact exercises like pilates. 

Pilates teaches you how to engage your core, stabilizing muscles safely and efficiently to help heal diastasis recti. It is also easily modified for this specific condition. Pilates can be practiced in the comfort of your home with a simple mat. 

Pilatesalso helps you focus on the mind-body connection, which can help you process postpartum changes, along with diastasis recti. The female body goes through so many changes during pregnancy and postpartum. 

Navigating pregnancy and postpartum can be a rollercoaster. Don’t do it alone. Expectful is here to help you through the highs and lows of these changes. 

Nicole Kainz
Instructor
Perinatal Writer

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