Diastasis Recti…Can Pilates Help?

The answer is YES! But first- what is the condition known as Diastasis Recti?  Diastasis Recti is a separation in the abdominal wall causing your belly to protrude. Many women complain that following childbirth they continue to appear pregnant long after the actual pregnancy. Having more than one child makes this condition more likely, especially if they’re close in age. You’re also more likely to get it if you’re over 35 or from delivering multiples. Pregnancy places a fair amount of pressure on the belly, so much so that in fact, the muscles in front can’t keep their shape. “Diastasis” means separation. “Recti” refers to your ab muscles called the “Rectus Abdominis.”

 

The muscle opening often shrinks after giving birth, but in some studies of women with Diastasis Recti, the muscle wasn’t back to normal even a year later. Ultimately when this condition is neglected, it can cause further complications such as: chronic constipation, urine leakage, low back and hip pain, and the appearance of being overweight.

What Types of Exercise Help Diastasis Recti?

Many women with this post pregnancy condition jump into exercise programs that in fact worsen this condition. Some routine fitness moves including crunches, sit-ups, push-ups, press-ups, and front planks, make abdominal separation worse. Swimming, various yoga moves (like downward dog), and certain movements performed on the hands and knees can actually have a worsening impact on Diastasis Recti. Some trainers may suggest those exercises for women with abdominal separation, not knowing that it may worsen the problem. Many abdominal exercises, such as crunches or exercises involving trunk flexion, can actually make the separation worse. Instead, women should opt for isometric contraction of the Transversus Abdominis.

How Can Pilates Fitness Help?

Post-natal Pilates can help by rebuilding the Tranverse Abdominis. The Transverse Abdominis acts like an internal corset bringing the Rectus Abdominis in and back together. Pilates is a fantastic way to strengthen the Transverse Abdominis, however there are some exercises that are contraindicated for Diastasis, such as ones that involve flexion, rotation and back extension. Once the Diastasis has been healed, exercises involving flexion, rotation and back extension can be done, as long as the Transverse Abdominis can be held in and there is no doming of the Rectus Abdominis.

A great way to better understand correct alignment and healing strategies for Diastisis Recti is to work with an experienced Pilates Instructor in a private training session to assess, evaluate and create a unique program to improve the core muscles.  Using both Pilates Equipment and performing Pilates Mat exercises are highly effective in re-contouring, reshaping and aligning the body by strengthening the abdominal walls and pelvic floor. If you have questions about Diastasis Recti, or Post-natal Pilates, contact the studio for more information about our programs.