How to Heal a Diastasis the RIGHT way

by inspiredrd on August 24, 2012

UPDATE: Diastasis expert Wendy Powell answers all of your questions from the comment section here. 

Remember back in June when I posted about being so over my diastasis?  Well, it’s still there.  Mostly because I didn’t do the exercises I said I was going to do.  Yep, even fitness professionals get lazy sometimes.

There was a little more to it than that though.  For one, I strained my neck during the first round of exercises.  Then, I got some feedback about my post that led me to talking to various experts about different opinions on the best way to heal a diastasis.  Apparently, not everyone is in line with the Tupler method.  I took some time and talked with a few experts, including Helene Byrne of BeFit-Mom.

She comes from a fitness background and is passionate about the fact that the Transverse Abdominus (TvA) must be trained properly for healing to happen.  Because of this, she advises against splinting without properly training the  TvA and works with clients to properly engage these muscles during training sessions.  She says that the real secret to flat abs is to train the TvA first.

In sports and fitness training, what you practice is what you get, i.e., muscle specificity theory. If you allow the abs to balloon during exercise, that is what you are unintentionally training your abs to do. (Yikes!) More importantly, expansion of the abdominal wall worsens abdominal separation and contributes to many postpartum problems, such as lower back pain, pelvic instability, postural problems, and urinary stress incontinence.

Lack of strength and functional control in the TvA is the most common pitfall for all new moms. Most women, who have tried to recondition their abs the traditional way, with lots of crunches, end up with unsatisfactory results. Their abs grow stronger, but never flatten. Their bellies, particularly below the waist, protrude and stay round.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for a strong core, not a round belly!  So how do we do this According to Helene, it all begins with the belly scoop.

Practicing the belly scoop along with isolation exercises as often as possible is the key to healing from the inside out.

The isolation exercises are similar to kegel elevators.  Only to train our TvA, we will be doing a front to back elevator instead of up and down.  We do this by pulling our bellybutton back towards the spine.  Floor 1 is where the muscles are barely engaged, floor 6 means the bellybutton is pulled back as close to your spine as possible.

UPDATE: Diastasis expert Wendy Powell answers all of your questions from the comment section here. 

Try this exercise in a few different ways:
1. Pull the bellybutton towards the spine as far as you can and hold for 30 seconds.  Release and repeat.
2. Engage the bellybutton a little bit (floor 1), bring it back halfway (floor 3), then bring it back all the way (floor 6).  Bring back to 3, then back to 6.  Go back and forth 25 times.  Over time, work up to 50-100 repetitions.
3. Pull the bellybutton to floor 5.  Hold for 30 seconds, then pulse back to floor 6 as many times as possible.  Rest.

You can do these exercises anywhere!  Make sure you are sitting up with good posture and a neutral spine, then do them in the car.  Practice at a stoplight.  Do them while you’re on the computer, or while you’re watching a movie with your kids.  Just do them!

I promise, this time I will do them with you.  If you will be doing them too, leave a comment (make sure to fill in your email address in the comment form) and I will send out a weekly email so we can encourage each other.  Are you in?

UPDATE: Diastasis expert Wendy Powell answers all of your questions from the comment section here. 

Some of your questions from the last post answered:

Is it too late for me?  My kids are older!  It’s never too late to heal your diastasis by strengthening your Transverse Abdominus.  Yay!

How often can we do these exercises?  Do we need a day of rest in between?  The belly scooping and isolation exercises can be done every day, even multiple times per day.  The only reason to wait would be if you were too sore to complete the exercises safely.

When can I start doing crunches again?  You can start slowly adding in other abdominal exercises like the crunches and planks when your diastasis measures less than two fingers wide.  If at any time you feel your abdomen protruding out instead of lying flat while performing the exercises, stop!

I’ve done these exercises for months and haven’t seen any results, why is that?  It’s possible that you aren’t engaging and relaxing the correct muscles.  Make sure you aren’t activating the glutes while performing the exercises, and make sure to master the belly scoop.

 

 

UPDATE: Diastasis expert Wendy Powell answers all of your questions from the comment section here. 

A diastasis expert answers all of your questions!  Alysa Bajenaru interviews Wendy Powell of MuTu System on InspiredRD.com

The MuTu® System

  • Kristen Vanags

    THanks for sending this out. I hope it helps!

    Kristen :-)

    • inspiredrd

      Me too!

  • Steph B

    Thank you so much!!! Love this!!!

    • inspiredrd

      You are so welcome!

  • Pingback: Saturday Showcase | The Texas Peach()

  • http://www.trulymadlyfreely.com Christy

    Ok, I am for real, really for real starting these today. Thanks for updating. I need this so bad!

    • inspiredrd

      For reals? :) Good luck!

  • April

    I have a 4-finger wide diastasis. I closed it 4 times in a year with the Tupler techinique, but each time I ripped it open doing something ridiculous (like moving a heavy box, or one weekend we had the stomach flu and throwing up did it). the connective tissue wasn’t healing. And by the time I progressed to the max exercising in her program, I was spendign TWO HOURS A DAY doing it. Split up over the day, but still 2 hours. I don’t have 2 hours a day long term. She says you have to do that for life. And that splint made me so claustrophobic. So I gave up. I’m a size 4 everywhere but my belly. I have had 3 c-sections and 5 kids in 3 years (including a set of triplets). I’m so sick of this. I’m going to check out the other resource you listed.

    • April

      I’ve been doing Helene’s work out for 3 weeks. I like it. Too soon to tell if it is working. I like that it isn’t high intensity so I can do it any time of the day, even right before bed, and it won’t get me riled up.

      • Bethany

        April – I don’t know if you get notice of replies – but you are the first person I’ve found with a separation similar to mine. I can get my whole fist between my muscles. I have had Tupler’s book for years, and I have the Be Fit Mom video, also. I wonder if you mind posting another update – are you still ripping it back open? I’ve had the same frustration with the amount of time – although I never had the level of success you had. I just had #4 7 weeks ago and it was bad before, but I feel completely awful now. I look 20+ weeks pregnant and at this point its all because of my separation (no more baby excuse), but I could never spend the money for surgery. I’d really appreciate any further comments or insight you have.

  • Jean

    Although I have not had a C-section, I have had 3 LARGE babies, and a Hysterectomy with a vertical incision from Belly Button to Pubic area. I was just wondering if this could help me?? Can’t really tell if I have this, but feel certain I probably do. Ever had anyone who has had a Hysterectomy with vertical incision close it up??

  • Jeri Farley

    I had no idea there was actually a name for my awful belly problem! I’ve had two vertical C sections & they left my stomach devastated. The directions seemed a little confusing but I will go over them again. I am going to do these daily (or more). I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks, Jeri

  • http://www.bownanzautah.blogspot.com Jeanette

    Thanks for sharing – simple enough! I hope it works for me!

  • http://taylor-madebaby.blogspot.com/ Brianne

    After 4 kids (no C-sections though) I have a 3-finger gap in my ab muscles. A friend told me about the diastasis thing but I thought the only remedy was surgery. I’m so glad to find something I can actively try to do to fix this! I’m SO tired of the comments and questions asking when I’m due. Seriously – my youngest is only 6 months old but I look like I’m already 5 months along with another pregnancy! I’m disgusted with how my clothes fit, but like someone else said above, I really am very petit everywhere else!
    Please, please, please let this work!!!

  • Jen

    To those of you struggling to get the exercises right, you might consider seeing if you can find a personal trainer or physical therapist to help. I saw a personal trainer who specializes in working with post partum women. I only saw her a few times, just enough for her to assess me and help me learn some exercises. She showed me the proper form and was able to correct me when I was doing it wrong. It really helped me understand what the movements should feel and look like! I’d recommend it for those needing help getting on track.

  • Mary

    Can I do this while standing up or while I am walking on The treadmill?

    • inspiredrd

      You can do all of the core stabilization exercises when walking or standing up, sure!

  • Angela

    So happy to find this support. I’ve been struggling with this for the last year. My daughter is 13 months (c-section) I’m 5’3 with a short torso and 9.5 lb baby. I started with the Tupler mummy tummy book after doing the wrong type of ab work unknowingly. Then got the Helen Byrne DVD. Then ordered the Tupler DVD and stomach splint. I was lucky enough to chat with Ms. Tupler. She referred me to someone in my area trained in her method. I saw this trainer and had an initial assessment. She verified I was doing everything correctly. I did the 6 week program and haven’t had great luck with doing the 15 sets daily. I just never sem to have time. I think adding the heel slides will help. I am quite petite everywhere else. I even weigh about 3 pounds less than pre-pregnancy. I still get a pooch after eating that gets bigger as the day goes on. So frustrating. I’ve seen results but can’t seem to get over this last hurdle !

  • Mel

    Thank you! I have a 1 finger gap after 2 pregnancies. I’ll be curious if this will fix it.

  • Mary

    Thank you for posting this!! I had 2 C-sections, my youngest is now 3 years old. I have a 3 finger gap and an umbilical hernia. I am now below my pre baby weight, but my abs hardly look better and it does get quite a bit worse as the day goes on. I have my routine physical next month, need to ask my Dr about the hernia and if she can recommend a PT to help.

  • Lourdes

    I have been looking for answers about my post c-section belly problem. I had two c-sections , three kids and I’m fit everywhere else but my lower belly. I will try this and hold off on crunches. Is it safe to do side plank while pulling your belly button in? My belly is almost flat but there is no muscle strength in them and because of the vertical c-section it’s divided. Thanks for posting this:)

  • Kristine

    I am curious to hear how this has been working for those of you who have been trying it. I have two LO aged 2 1/2 and 13 months. I used to just have a 2 finger gap right at the belly button but just discovered I now have a 2 finger gap from top to bottom. I have worked very hard to lose about 75lbs since I had my second baby. I am now sitting at my pre pregnancy weight but my body just doesn’t look right. It is so frustrating to work so hard and yet have a belly that still looks pregnant in clothes. It sounds like alot of you ladies can relate. I am desperate to close this diastis up once and for all. I have yet to meet anyone who was able to successfully close theirs so any success stories would be amazing to hear.

  • Mandie

    I am SO doing this. I have been suffering from this for 6 years and had no clue. But after 2 c sections and 2 large babies (and LARGE WEIGHT GAIN WITH BOTH) i totally have this problem :( and i am SICK of ppl thinking i’m preggo. my kids are 6 and almost 4! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  • Niki

    Can these help with abdominal hernias? I’ve had two surgeries and need a third.

  • Jamie

    Hi – Thank you for posting this information. I have been researching the best way to address this problem for myself and this really helped. I purchased the Bounce Back Fast dvd today. I was just wondering if you can provide an update on your progress or perhaps you have and I am just looking in the wrong place. Thanks!

  • Heather

    I’m a physical therapist and see a lot of women in the clinic for this problem — many of whom are doing traditional abdominal exercises and causing further harm. The information in this article is great! For those of you wanting more guidance in exercise progression or making sure you are engaging the correct muscles, I would really recommend a few visits with a PT! Certain physical therapists are certified experts in Women’s Health, although any good PT should be able to help you.

  • Pingback: Diastasis Recti: No Wonder My Belly Keeps Pooching! | Quinn Curtis()

  • Janine

    Hi everyone!
    I’m so glad to read your posts and find so many others like me! I saw a surgeon on Friday who said I should have surgery to close my diastasis. (which is 3cm, or 1.5 fingers) I said NO WAY and bet him that I’d fix it with physio. I just ordered Julie Tupler’s splint yesterday – it’s totally worth a try!

    If anyone wants to connect via FB to continue supporting and encouraging each other to do the exercises, I’m https://www.facebook.com/janine.dalton.73 Just let me know where you found me if you do send a friend request! :)

  • Denise

    Can these be done while pregnant? I am currently eleven weeks pregnant with my second child. During my first pregnancy, I injured my stomach muscles (transverse abdominus and rectus abdominus) I had to climb through a window at five months pregnant, and severely pulled those muscles and my son was a very big baby, and my stomach never really healed. I have since always looked five months pregnant. Now that I am pregnant again my core muscles are soooo weak, I am wondering if these exercises are safe to do while pregnant to help improve core strength to support this growing baby. Does anyone know where I could find out if it is safe or not?

  • Rachel

    I’ve been trying to bounce back from my second baby, but couldn’t seem to get rid of my tummy– one finger separation here. I’ve been doing it all wrong! Starting this immediately! Thanks!

  • Amanda

    Wow I’ve never heard of this, but have always wondered why in the world my stomach acts as it does, and why I always look preggo. My kids are 13 & 16, I had them both naturally, but I had 3 stomach area surgeries in less than 2 years when my youngest was a baby, and my body has never been the same since. I have a two finger separation & I will defiantly be giving this a shot!!

  • ashley

    I know this might sound stupid but I am so confused on some of this and would love some advice. I don’t understand how to do some of these exercises. I have never really worked out but I am trying to get inshape and lose weight and my pooch. I dont understand on your last post how to do the first two exercises and then this one where it says ” Try this exercise in a few different ways:
    1. Pull the bellybutton towards the spine as far as you can and hold for 30 seconds. Release and repeat.
    2. Engage the bellybutton a little bit (floor 1), bring it back halfway (floor 3), then bring it back all the way (floor 6). Bring back to 3, then back to 6. Go back and forth 25 times. Over time, work up to 50-100 repetitions.”
    I dont understand how to do that either. Please help i am at a loss

    • inspiredrd

      Ashley, not a stupid question at all. This is hard to describe online, maybe I should do a video!

      Let me know if this helps you, it’s the foundation of all these exercises – http://inspiredrd.com/2010/03/iso-abs.html

  • Angela

    Hi there! I know I have this (and I haven’t tried these exercises yet). I measured mine – and it’s HUGE – like 7 fingers or more (assuming I did it correctly of course). I have visited a plastic surgeon who said ultimately I need a tummy tuck to correct the diastasis as well as remove loose skin after 3 c-sections. Obviously, it would be more practical to try to heal it with exercise. Do you know if there’s a “size” that can’t be corrected via exercise? Is there a point that’s too far gone for it to work? I am going to try to do these – it certainly can’t hurt!

    • inspiredrd

      Hi Angela, I’ve asked two experts this question and they both say there is no diastasis large enough to NOT be fixable by exercises. Good luck!

  • http://justincomptonfamily.blogspot.com/ Analla

    I am a PTA and like you, was aware of this condition years before I had my kids. I had shared this information with others, but did not apply it to myself. Did a quick check and sure enough, there it is! Now wonder my core has been so weak and sore between chasing kids and lots of lifting at work. I am now currently trying to get pregnant with my third child. After a visit to my doctor and discovering my hormones are “all wacked out”, I am beginning a healthier life style with hormone supplements, improved diet and exercise. These exercises are definitely going on my list! Maybe I can improve this problem before number three comes along! Thanks for the reminder, good information and well put together!

  • Ashley

    I am not trying to be pessimistic but I would love to hear more from the PT’s and people who have tried these exercises. I’m reading a lot of comments from people excited to try them but not much on the success. I am a twin mom and a size 1. Needless to say my belly got HUGE with the twins. Plus I had another baby before the twins. I have Diastasis Recti so bad that it goes from the top of my abs to the bottom. I can literally fit all 10 of my fingers between my abs. I would love to believe that these exercises would help but I just need to hear it from someone that it actually works and gives results. I am tired of looking 6 months pregnant. My doctor said that exercises will not correct this problem and my only option is plastic surgery. I am about to go that route unless someone can convince me that this actually works for someone with this severe of problem. Help please!

  • ginger

    Okay, new here! Just found your original post on Pinterest and after reading a little more I found this post too. Thank you for sharing this! I’ve never been pregnant but I have always had a round belly, no matter how thin I’ve been in the past and no matter how fit. I’ve set a daily reminder and I’m going to try these exercises as well!

  • Lisa

    Thank you for this post, my seperation is about 1.5 fingers, I’m not down to prebaby weight but my belly sticks out much further than I think it should for my size. I am going to do these exercises everyday and see if it helps get my stomached to not stick out so far!!

  • Cassandra

    I’ve got the splint and everything that comes with it from the Tuplar Technique, but the splint hurts so badly on my sides (scrunching up in the back and leaving bruises) that I stopped wearing it. I’ve been told by a surgeon that I have a diastasis recti and that plastic surgery is my option. I don’t want to pay 6 grand to have my stomach fixed, so I am left fixing it on my own. Part of it is that I need to lose weight, but the other part is the darn stomach. Mine is worse on the top of my stomach. I’ve been doing a lot of research and I am glad I came across your article. I plan to continue doing the exercises, but not wearing the splint because of the pain.

  • Shelley

    I’m just trying to make sure I understand the exercises correctly and what’s meant my pulling in or engaging your belly button. Is it like “sucking it in” without the inhaling part? If you’re sitting instead of lying down, is it natural for this movement of pulling your belly button area in “toward your spine” to cause your spine to curve a bit and your shoulders to come forward?

  • Ashley George

    So just to be clear, I did not see a video on the original post or anything about a belly scoop, are the exercising 1-6 shown in the chart on the original post “GOOD” or “BAD” for diastasis? I want to get this fixed not make it worse lol

    • inspiredrd

      Ashley, it’s confusing isn’t it? That’s why I interviewed an expert yesterday and will be posting the video in a bit. Check back!

  • Jennifer

    Thanks for this, I had no idea. I’ve been doing crunches off and on and the pooch almost seems to get worse. Will definitely be doing this.

  • Kerri

    My youngest is 20 mo and I’ve been so discouraged that my tummy just won’t go away even though I have lost all my baby weight. Pre kids I was lucky enoght to have a naturally very flat tummy (like my pelvic bone stuck out farther than my belly button very flat). I just heard about the possibility of separated muscles and so I checked yep and easy 2 finger distance :( I’m now on a mission with you to repair this! So glad to know this can be fixed!

  • Nina

    so I have been doing these and out seems to really helped I went from a 2.5 width to about 1.5! although I’m concerned because although my gap has closed some, when I stand the big bulge will still pop out!? this is so discouraging… I don’t know how can it be so big when I stand but the gap is small feels like it well never go away and my back is killing me, am I doing something wrong? Will this bulge ever go away!?

  • Nadine

    Hi,
    I have 3 children, 2 births were required C-sections. Developed a huge diastasis, according to Julie Tupler 10 fingers wide. I found her after years of searching for an answer and getting nowhere except for recommendations for a “hernia/tummy tuck” surgery. I started with Julie in June 2013 and diligently did her exercises with great results over the Summer. I got my diastasis down to 4 fingers. However, the school year has kicked in, I stopped the exercises and started cycling the kids to school and got sick of wearing the belt. I’m noticing that my stomach is better, but, unfortunately is starting to pop out as the day goes on with my food intake. I’m thinking of getting a corset made to fit me. I don’t know what exercises to continue with. I don’t know if the 2 months off my workout routine has made my muscled weak again. I don’t know if cycling makes it worse. I need to get back on some routine but after reading your posts I don’t know which way to go anymore.

    • http://inspiredrd.com InspiredRD

      I totally get it. There is so much conflicting information (even here as I was doing my research). It sounds like what is happening to you is exactly what Wendy from the MuTu System warns about in regards to splinting. Your insides aren’t strong enough to hold you together. Please look at my most recent diastasis post, and if you have further questions, ask them there and Wendy will respond. Thanks! http://inspiredrd.com/2013/10/diastasis-recti-fixes.html

      • Nadine

        You are doing a wonderful thing for all of us! Thank you for all of the great information and support. I will check out your recent post. Just curious, has MuTu worked for you?

        • http://inspiredrd.com InspiredRD

          Thank you Nadine, it is a lot of information to wade through! I can tell you that the MuTu System is working for me…as long as I’m a good girl and do the exercises! When I’m good about doing them, I feel an instant improvement. Just think about how great I’ll be doing when I stop slacking off :)

  • lesly

    hi :) so glad i stoped by here to read this. My english isnt good but ill try my best to spell correctly. im 22 just had a baby july 2012, i have problems with my stomach and back pains and i was always asking myself why i had this pains. so i did research and found a lot of answers. i even bought the tupler technique so i have it. and im trying my best to get to this program . i havent go checked by a doctor i dont have medicaid right now. so is all on me right now pretty much. im very small too only weight 95 but my original weight is more just stress makes me loose weight. sucks for me!! :( and i have gastritis on top of all this so when i get bloated it hurts my stomach. i did. y own check up i layed down the right way and it looks like i have 2 an half finger maybe 3 see im. ot sure but i know is now 1 finger i look like if i was 3 months pregnant too. i dont have my waist and i should since i only weigjt 95 and im very skinny i know i have deastis reacti .my question is should i try really my best to do this tupler technique! ? or get surgery done ? i went to go see a doctor does surgerys and he explain to me what he was going go do, he said pretty much a tummy tuck :( im really scared but im stressing to much and is hard to take care of my baby is hard for everything i do and i just wanna feel ok again no pain breath normal . pains meaning back pains and my bloating is worst with this gap so im really considering doing this tummy tuck. please help me i really need some nice advices no rude comments plz :)

  • lesly

    hi :) so glad i stoped by here to read this. My english isnt good but ill try my best to spell correctly. im 22 just had a baby july 2012, i have problems with my stomach and back pains and i was always asking myself why i had this pains. so i did research and found a lot of answers. i even bought the tupler technique so i have it. and im trying my best to get to this program . i havent go checked by a doctor i dont have medicaid right now. so is all on me right now pretty much. im very small too only weight 95 but my original weight is more just stress makes me loose weight. sucks for me!! :( and i have gastritis on top of all this so when i get bloated it hurts my stomach. i did. y own check up i layed down the right way and it looks like i have 2 an half finger maybe 3 see im. ot sure but i know is now 1 finger i look like if i was 3 months pregnant too. i dont have my waist and i should since i only weigjt 95 and im very skinny i know i have deastis reacti .my question is should i try really my best to do this tupler technique! ? or get surgery done ? i went to go see a doctor does surgerys and he explain to me what he was going go do, he said pretty much a tummy tuck :( im really scared but im stressing to much and is hard to take care of my baby is hard for everything i do and i just wanna feel ok again no pain breath normal . pains meaning back pains and my bloating is worst with this gap so im really considering doing this tummy tuck. please help me i really need some nice advices no rude comments plz :) ill really appreciate

  • ModaMama

    Hi, Thanks for this. I have a question that does not reflect the experiences of these ladies. I’m lucky enough that my diastasis was only two fingers.It never got bigger than that in the three years after birth. And I’ve returned to my pre-baby flat stomach, but recently I started an extreme workout (I’ve trained in martial arts and marathon running for decades – so heavy exercise is not new) and my recti opened up to 2-2.5 fingers now. I still have a flat tummy, but my concern is about overall core health and strength as I don’t want to ever stop my extreme physical activity. Just curious to hear from someone who may know/be an expert how long it should take, and any other advice. Very much appreciated! :-)

Previous post:

Next post: