Sara Haley recently discussed diastasis recti during pregnancy. Today she’s talking about how to avoid developing one or making it worse!
Now that you know a little bit about diastasis recti, let’s talk about how to change up your workouts to either avoid developing one or exacerbating an already existing one.
How to Avoid Making Diastasis Recti Worse
1. Bye-bye crunches. In case this one wasn’t already obvious, STOP DOING CRUNCHES. In my opinion, pregnant or not, crunches don’t really do that much for anyone anyways and there are far better exercises you can do to get the results you want. You need to be working from the inside out, which means using the pelvic floor and the transverse abdominus so that you can help prevent back problems, build strength to help you push during labor, and give you a good support system for an easier recovery. So in case you have been doing crunches, stop now! Because the connective tissue (the linea alba) that holds the rectus abdominus together is so vulnerable during pregnancy, doing crunches may be causing a diastasis recti or making a present one worse. Plus, although research is changing, there’s no reason for you to spend extra time on your back. Many doctors will encourage pregnant women to avoid it completely. I’d rather see you working in other positions that you can be more comfortable in and put the baby at less risk. Check out the lower back exercises and kegel recommendations I created for FBM!
2. Rotate don’t twist. Again, the theory with twisting at the waist is that it will increase the thinning and stretching of the linea alba, which can exasperate the separation of your rectus. Plus, as your baby grows in size, it will just become uncomfortable. The best thing to do, even early on in your pregnancy is to teach your body how to properly rotate from the feet, so the body moves as one unit. I teach this in the Synergy Workout on Expecting More, my prenatal workout program.
3. Modify your planks. The newest research is showing that even planks should be modified or avoided since any forward forceful pressure on your rectus abdominus can result in a diastasis recti. So the best thing to do, especially if you see your belly starting to come to a point in plank, is to modify on your knees, on a chair or table, or up against a wall, or do side planks instead.
Remember, I still want you working on your core strength, especially your pelvic floor. It will aid in labor, delivery and recovery. Make sure to check out the low back and kegel exercises I created just for FBM. Also, I have a great belly breathing exercise in my diastasis recti video that I have on my YouTube channel. It’s me super pregnant showing you what my diastasis recti actually looks like, as well as a great breathing technique to help prevent it from hopefully getting any worse.
Please, if you have any questions about diastasis recti, or anything else regarding pre- and post-pregnancy, do not hesitate to contact me at @sarahaleyfit! —Sara Haley