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Diastasis Recti & Fitness Training

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

Picture credits to UPMC Centers for Rehab Services

It recently came under my attention that Diastasis Recti (DR) came under the spot light on social media discussions lately. And unfortunately, along with the discussions, I have also noticed an increase in online trainers advertising their guides to help clients “fix” their DR. You might be wondering why I am saying “unfortunately.” Well I will be honest, the reason for my out cry is because I noticed that some of the trainers selling the guides are not properly qualified to be giving out guides regarding such specific conditions.

I have been really hesitant to write about this topic, as I am all for supporting others and wishing others success with their ventures. And I never want to condemn other’s practices because I differ from them. HOWEVER, as a certified personal trainer with an additional qualification in comprehensive pre- and post-natal training – I feel a little obliged to voice my opinion about the matter that came under my attention.

When I started my journey in the fitness industry, I made a promise to myself to always be 100% honest and transparent regarding any topics and situations I may encounter and in every aspect of my journey. I hope that my honest intentions and concerns will be thoroughly transparent in this blog post and that it would not appear that I am trying to criticize or sabotage anyone’s business ventures.

I am a firm believer in continuous professional development – you can check out all of my qualifications on my Instagram page (@fitbesttraining) under the Highlight CPD. The qualifications will also soon be listed and uploaded onto my website. As a believer in continuous development, I have recently enrolled in yet another course which is especially focused on Post Natal recover (exercise, nutrition, scars, eeeeverything you can think of). I felt that the courses I did before focused more on pre-natal training and I wanted more and more valuable training and expertise with regards to post-natal recovery.

For the biggest part of 2018, I have been working on a Post Natal Recovery Guide. And whilst you can say that most of the guide is done. I am not releasing the guide as of yet. I first want to complete the new course in which I have enrolled – so that I can share all of my tips and gained knowledge with you ladies. I want to ensure, that when I release my guide, I am qualified as best as I can be and that I can give you the best possible guide. Giving you ultimate value for your money and ensuring that you will reach your goals, no risks attached.

Please excuse all the gory details and mumbling about qualifications, but when it comes to a topic such as DR – I honestly feel that you should not even be reading or paying any attention to anything anyone is saying with regards to it – unless it is clear by a mile, that the relevant person is qualified to be voicing their opinion regarding the topic.

So back to the Diastasis Recti topic itself... Let’s look at a few frequently asked questions…

What exactly is DR and why does it happen? DR is also known as abdominal separation. It is a condition in which the large abdominal muscles separates. It is a common occurrence during or as a result of pregnancy. DR is caused by an increase in internal abdominal pressure and not specifically by pregnancy. During pregnancy, your uterus continuously stretches to accommodate the growing baby, which can cause the abdominal muscles remain under constant internal pressure and thus cause muscles to split in the front. According to statistics, approximately 98% of all women suffer from DR after giving birth. The extent of the abdominal separation obviously varies between women. DR usually are more often seen during second or third, etc pregnancies – as the abdominal muscles have been stretched and weakened before – during prior pregnancies. Women who suffer from abdominal problems, or weak abdominal muscles prior to pregnancy are also more prone to DR.

How do I know if I have DR? First of all, DR always requires a medical diagnosis! However, there are signs to look out for. DR can only be identified and diagnosed once your baby is born. And even after birth, you might have DR and not even know it. In some cases, one can only see identify DR once the abdominal muscles are contracted. In other cases, there may be a noticeable bulge in the middle of your stomach. DR is the thing causing your jeans not to fit anymore – even after you have regained your pre-baby weight/size. You might even suffer from abdominal and pelvic pain as a result of DR. So how do you find out if you suffer from DR? The easy go-to method to determine if you may have DR can be done as follow:

Lie flat on your back, with your knees bent – feet flat on the floor. Lift your head and shoulders slightly off the floor, as you would when performing a crunch exercise. With your one hand, palm facing towards your face, use your index finger to identify the gap between your abdominal muscles. The test should be performed above and below the belly button – as the measurement may vary. Once you have identified the gap, use your index, middle and ring fingers and measure the width of the gap. If you can fit three or more fingers in the gap, you may suffer from DR.

There is NO indication such as “if the gap size is 5cm or 7cm then you have DR and need medical intervention...” Each and every person’s bodies differ. Your fingers are most definitely not the same size as every other woman giving birth. Your fingers are in relation to your body and thus your stomach. So if anyone comes to you with an measurement indication in centimeters, you already known that you should start running as far away from them as possible. Okay, I am kidding – don’t run with your DR until your doctor made a proper diagnosis and gave you clearance to participate in activities such as running, etc. But the other part was true – please stay away from such trainers. You might think that you have came across a bargain. But I can almost guarantee you that it will do way more harm than any good.

If the above test result applies to you, please book an appointment with your doctor and get a proper diagnosis and advise on the road ahead.

Diastasis Recti & Fitness

Now that you have a better idea on what exactly DR is and how to detect if you might have it – lets look at the fitness aspect related to it. This is where my main concern creeps in.

Minor cases of DR can be healed or fixed through a proper and safe workout program. However, in some cases, the damage caused by DR might not be recovered by exercise alone. In such instances one will have to get physical therapy from a qualified physiotherapist or even surgery. Surgery for DR is basically the same procedure as a Tummy Tuck – where the surgeon would remove the excessive fat and decrease the gap between the muscles by pulling them back together internally.

When moms discover that they have DR, they will start looking for any tips and tools to get rid of the problem. However, DR is a non-serious condition that should be treated with serious caution. DR cannot be 100% prevented or avoided, but you can however decrease your risk of suffering from post-natal DR by getting proper pre-natal training. Hence again, may I remind you of the utmost importance of training with a qualified professional. However, pre-natal training is a complete topic of its own for another day.

Many unqualified trainers will prescribe a training program to improve your abdominal muscles s in order to hopefully recover the damage. However, the abdominal muscles are the worst place to start on your journey to recovering from DR. I bet the trainer where you got your R100 DR fixer guide from, did not know that & obviously did not inform you about that either. The shocking news is, that improper training might actually worsen you DR. And in very severe cases, improper training may even pressure your organs and push them through the separation – which can and might cause DEATH!!! Well I am not sure about you, but I don’t think that saving a few bucks by opting for the R100 guide is worth the health risk.

Creating a proper and safe post-natal training guide is an expensive and long journey. It takes a trainer a long time to be properly qualified, a simple personal trainer qualification is not adequate to take on such a topic and start handing out guides and opinions about how to fix Diastasis Recti. If you were planning on purchasing a cheap guide or now a friend who has – please first ensure if the trainer is properly qualified. And if the trainer is not willing to show you their qualifications - it obviously means that they are not qualified to issue a guide on that matter.

The greatest wealth is health – don’t risk it on unqualified trainers.

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