Most women think that abdominal separation is the splitting of the muscle at the front of the torso – that 6 pack muscle, the rectus abdominis.
This is really only half true- as it’s not the muscle, but the connective tissue that is in the middle – called the linea alba.
This connective tissue stretches and thins out to make room for the baby during pregnancy.
The mistake a lot of us (inadvertently) make thinking that by working that ‘separated’ muscle, we’ll heal diastasis recti. But actually, working this muscle when the connective tissue is weak, makes it much worse.
Here are the 3 common types of ab exercises that widen the gap and weaken that connective tissue further:
Sit-ups, crunches, V sits, ab bicycles…. anything that causes you to flex against gravity will stress the linea alba.
This one is not as commonly known – but poses such as warrior, half-moon, upward facing dog, and lying back over an exercise ball to stretch can place too much stretch along that line, if it still lacks integrity.
If you’re doing yoga while you have an unhealed separation/weak connective tissue, modify your session until you have healed.
These are held positions under loads – such as planks, push-ups from the toes, and heavy overhead extensions. These positions can create a bracing and pushing out effect through the torso under load – which widens the overall abdomen and creates pressure generally holding the breath. While separation is a healing focus on exercises that bring everything together instead – using the pelvic floor and the deep core (transverse abdominis) muscles.
Once you have closed the gap if you are correcting diastasis recti, it can still take a couple of months for the connective tissue to thicken and strengthen in this fixed position.
Wait for this reinforcement to occur before leaping out and doing the exercises above again.
Remember if it’s malleable enough that corrective exercises can bring the gap together, it’s also malleable enough to be moved apart.
Connective tissue takes time to heal, it’s not a muscle, and you can’t speed up the process.
The place to get started with healing diastasis recti is undestanding a complete deep core and pelvic core activation. You can get the free video series to make these initial connections here
The Postpartum Method takes women though 3 levels of training - Core Healing, Core Fitness, and Core Strength.