July is diastasis recti (DR) awareness month. What I find discouraging is the fear around DR. The number of women who have put aside their own fitness needs because they are afraid to make their DR worse makes me cringe. Let me tell you this, in my experience, I have never had someone come to me and say my DR is getting worse. No matter how many crunches or situps they did it didn’t get worse. Did the DR get better? No, but it didn’t get worse. The impact of not moving is far greater than the impact you are going to make on your linea alba.
DR is the separation of the rectus abdominis (6-pack muscles). The tissues that run down the middle (linea alba) will stretch to accommodate the growing baby.
I promise this is not as scary as it sounds. As a fact, you have probably experienced diastasis recti (DR) at the end of pregnancy. It is the body's way to make room. Up to 33% of women will experience DR at 12 months postpartum.
In the postpartum period, this tissue can heal and allow the 6 pack muscles to move closer (similar to a rubber band after being stretched). Sometimes this is not the case (the rubber band doesn't return to its original elasticity), though the reason is unknown there is a large genetic factor.
In training, we avoid overworking the six-pack muscles until we have good control of intra-abdominal pressure management. We focus on strengthening those deep core muscles. We emphasize crossbody activation and restoring integrity to the linea alba. I also look for depth versus width. How far down your fingers go gives us insight into how the linea alba holds tension.
Everyone who has DR is going to have a different experience, it is very different from individual to individual.