Mummy Tummy: Dealing With Diastasis Recti and How To Tone Your Stomach

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Diastasis Recti occurs when the rectus abdominis or the outer abdominal muscle stretches and separates. The connective tissues that bind the abdominal muscles start to stretch sideways. As the muscles stretches sideways, the tissues become weaker and thinner. The result is a bloated, protruding stomach that’s much harder to tone or flatten through exercise or diet. Diastasis Recti is also commonly known as “pregnancy pooch.”

Causes of Diastasis Recti

We are all born with our stomach muscles separated. The amount of force or pressure we exert on the connective tissues that bind all the stomach muscles will determine the closeness of the abdominal muscles to each other. One way to exert effort on the abdominal muscle to keep it toned and flat is through targeted exercise.

Diastasis Recti can be caused of a lot of things — including obesity, weight gain, uterus growth during pregnancy, or improper abdominal exercises. Poor posture and persistent back pain could also result in Diastasis Recti.

Testing at Home for Diastasis Recti

One of the most common causes of Diastasis Recti is pregnancy. Diastasis Recti occurs during the second to third trimester. Most doctors will not test Diastasis Recti but you can do this at the comfort of your own home.

Step 1: Lying flat on your back on a hard surface, bend your legs and press your feet firmly into the floor.

Step 2: Put one hand behind your head and another flat on your stomach. Press two fingertips lightly on the stomach, just inches from your bellybutton.

Step 3: Do a crunch position and feel your abs contracting. Move your fingertips back and forth your midline. You should feel the gap of your left and right abdominal muscles. If you can place two fingers between the gap of the left and right abdominal muscles, chances are, you have Diastasis Recti.

Dealing With Diastasis Recti Through Exercise

Don’t think crunches will help solve Diastasis Recti. Surprisingly, crunches could actually worsen the condition! There are two ways to deal with Diastasis Recti, one is to watch what you eat and two is to exercise the abdominal area the right way. Below are great exercises to try out to flatten and tone your stomach area:

Head Lift

As you lie flat on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the hard surface, lift your head off the ground by pulling your abs toward your spine. Hold the position for two seconds or so before releasing. Do ten reps of head lifts each day to train your abdominal muscles back to its original position.

Abdominal Contraction

Sitting on a chair, place your hands on your stomach and inhale. As you inhale, press your stomach inwards towards the center of your spine. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing as you go. Do 5 reps of this exercise to flatten and tone your abdominal muscles.

Standing Push-Up

Forget about sit-ups, do standing push-ups instead! Stand arm’s length away from a wall and press your pals into the wall. Do a push-up against the wall and keep your elbows leveled to the body. Contract your abdominal muscle with every push down; pull the muscles towards your spine. Do 20 standing push-ups each day to gently tone your abs.

Certain exercises could worsen Diastasis Recti. Apart from crunches and sit-ups, avoid bicycle crunches, oblique curls, the majority of Pilates positions, and yoga positions like “Up Dog” or “Cow Pose.”

Dealing With Diastasis Recti Through Diet

Don’t expect your body to bounce back after having a baby. A combination of healthy diet and exercise do help prevent Diastasis Recti. Ideally, you want to boost your diet with whole grains, low-calorie foodstuff, and a lot of vegetables and fruits to shed unwanted pounds off your body and minimize the protrusion of the stomach.

A great diet followed by regular transverse stomach exercises will further minimize fat and keep the stomach flatter. However, if you are having difficulty doing any of the abs exercises listed above, it’s best to stop the exercise and consult your doctor and a fitness expert to help you develop a customized health plan to deal with Diastasis Recti.

In addition, getting rid of fat around the midsection after having a baby or after losing a lot of weight will take a while. Even if you’re exercising and watching what you eat religiously, you might not see instant results. Getting your body back to shape and sculpting certain areas of the body will take a lot of time and work. So be patient; just stick to the plan and eat wholesome foods to stay in shape.

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