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Effective Diastasis Recti Exercises for Postpartum Recovery

physical therapy diastasis recti exercises

Diastasis recti is a condition where the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy, leading to a gap in the midline of the stomach that affects 39% of women even after six months postpartum. This condition can cause various issues such as lower back pain, weakened core stability, and a protruding belly. However, with proper exercises, diastasis recti can be effectively managed and treated.


Deep core stability is essential for postpartum women as it directly relates to diastasis rectus abdominis (DRA) and pelvic floor health. DRA is a common condition in which the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy, leading to decreased core stability and potential pelvic floor dysfunction. When the deep core muscles are weak, the pressure within the abdominal cavity increases, putting strain on the pelvic muscles and leading to issues such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

Understanding Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti is a common condition that occurs when the rectus abdominis muscles separate, causing abdominal separation and creating a visible bulge or “pooch.” This condition often occurs in pregnant women who have recently given birth, although it can also affect men and women who are overweight or engaged in repetitive or excessive abdominal muscle straining.

Why Diastasis Recti is a concern for many women postpartum

Diastasis recti is a common concern for many postpartum women, as it can have a significant impact on abdominal strength, stability, and core muscles. This can lead to a weakened core, reduced abdominal strength, abdominal separation, and potential for back pain, pelvic muscle pain, and discomfort.

Women need to seek a proper diagnosis and treatment for diastasis recti, including targeted exercise and physical therapy to achieve postpartum recovery. These treatments can help to gradually strengthen the abdominal muscles, improve core stability, and reduce the risk of back pain.

Preparatory Steps Before Starting Exercises

Before starting any diastasis recti exercises, it is important to take a few preparatory steps to ensure the safety and effectiveness of any exercise routine. Here are some key steps to consider:

Assessing the severity of Diastasis Recti

Diastasis recti severity can be assessed by measuring the size of the abdominal gap. A diastasis recti gap of one to two finger widths is considered mild, three to four finger widths are moderate, and five or more finger widths are severe.

For mild cases of diastasis recti, exercises aimed at strengthening the deep abdominal muscles, such as pelvic tilts and belly breathing, may be recommended. Moderate cases may require physical therapy to help correct muscle imbalances and improve core strength. Severe diastasis recti may require surgical intervention, such as a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty, to repair the abdominal muscles and reduce the size of the gap.

Safety precautions and contraindications

While exercises can be beneficial for managing and treating diastasis recti, it is important to take certain safety precautions and be aware of any contraindications. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Consult with a healthcare professional: Before starting any exercise program, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or doctor, who can assess your specific condition and provide personalized recommendations.
  2. Avoid exercises that worsen diastasis recti: Certain exercises, such as crunches or planks, can put excessive strain on the abdominal muscles and worsen diastasis recti. It is important to avoid these exercises and focus on ones that target the deep core muscles without causing further separation.
  3. Listen to your body: Pay attention to how your body feels during and after exercises. If you experience any pain, discomfort, or worsening of symptoms, stop the exercise and consult with a healthcare professional.
  4. Gradually progress intensity: Start with gentle exercises and gradually increase the intensity as your core strength improves. Pushing yourself too hard too soon can lead to injury or exacerbation of diastasis recti.

Importance of Exercise in Diastasis Recti Recovery

Importance of Exercise in Diastasis Recti Recovery

Exercise plays a crucial role in diastasis recti recovery, as it helps strengthen and retrain the abdominal muscles, improve posture, and support the connective tissue in the abdomen. By incorporating specific exercises and movements into a daily routine, individuals with diastasis recti can promote healing, improve core strength, and ultimately reduce the symptoms associated with this condition.

Physical benefits

Some of the physical benefits of diastasis recti exercises include improving abdominal muscle strength, reducing muscle separation, and alleviating symptoms of stress urinary incontinence and low back pain. A study published in the Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy found that targeted exercises can effectively reduce the gap between the separated muscles, leading to improved muscle strength and function. These exercises also help in reducing symptoms of stress urinary incontinence by providing better support to the pelvic muscles.

Strengthening core muscles

Strengthening the core muscles is a key component of any exercise routine for diastasis recti. The core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, pelvic floor muscles, and obliques, play a crucial role in providing support and stability to the abdomen.

Improving posture

Improving posture is another important aspect of diastasis recti recovery that can be addressed through specific exercises. Diastasis recti can often lead to poor posture, as the weakened abdominal muscles and increased pressure on the abdomen can cause a forward-leaning or slouched position.

Psychological benefits

In addition to the physical benefits, engaging in diastasis recti exercises can also have positive psychological effects. Here are some psychological benefits of incorporating exercise into your diastasis recti recovery:

Boosting confidence

Engaging in diastasis recti exercises can have a significant impact on boosting confidence. As individuals with diastasis recti work towards improving their abdominal strength and reducing the symptoms associated with this condition, they may start to see positive changes in their body shape and overall well-being. This can lead to a boost in self-confidence and body image.

Alleviating postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is a serious condition that can greatly impact a mother’s well-being and the bond with her baby. Seeking professional help and support from loved ones is crucial in alleviating postpartum depression. Professional treatment such as therapy and medication can provide the necessary support to manage symptoms and work through the challenges of postpartum depression.

Common symptoms for diagnosing diastasis recti

Diagnosing diastasis recti involves identifying several common symptoms that indicate the condition. These symptoms can include a visible bulge or ridge in the middle of the abdomen, especially when the individual sits up from a lying position. Other symptoms may include lower back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, and poor posture. It is essential to recognize these symptoms early to seek proper medical intervention and treatment.

Bulge or “pooch” in your stomach

One of the most common symptoms of diastasis recti is a noticeable bulge or “pooch” in the stomach. This occurs when the abdominal muscles separate, causing the connective tissue (linea alba) to stretch and create a gap between the muscles after a woman gives birth to a baby. As a result, the organs and tissues in the abdomen are not properly supported, leading to a protrusion or bulge.

Lower back pain

Lower back pain is a common symptom associated with diastasis recti. The separation of the abdominal muscles can lead to instability in the core, causing strain on the lower back. This can result in discomfort and pain in the lumbar region.

Poor posture

Poor posture is another common symptom associated with diastasis recti. When the abdominal muscles are weak and separated, it can lead to an imbalance in the core muscles, affecting overall posture and even abdominal breathing. This can result in a rounded or slouched upper back, a forward head position, and a protruding abdomen.

Constipation and bloating

The separation of the abdominal muscles can disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system, leading to issues such as constipation and bloating. The weakened abdominal muscles can affect the proper movement of food through the digestive tract, resulting in slowed bowel movements and difficulty passing stools.

Effective Exercises for Diastasis Recti

Effective Exercises for Diastasis Recti

These exercises are designed to target the deep core muscles and can be performed at home with little to no equipment. By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you can work towards closing the gap in your abdominal muscles and alleviating the symptoms of diastasis recti.

Toe taps

Several variations of toe taps can be incorporated into a workout routine to target the lower abs and improve overall core strength.

  1. Toe Taps While Lying on Back:

– Starting Position: Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms by your sides.

– Breathing Techniques: Inhale as you lower your legs and exhale as you lift them back up.

– Instructions: Lift your legs towards the ceiling and tap your toes on the ground, then lift them back up to the starting position. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions.

  1. Tabletop Toe Taps:

– Starting Position: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet lifted off the ground, creating a tabletop position with your legs.

– Breathing Techniques: Inhale as you lower one foot towards the ground and exhale as you lift it back up.

– Instructions: Alternate tapping one foot to the ground while keeping the other knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Aim for 12-15 repetitions on each leg.

Dead bug

Dead bug exercises are a great way to strengthen the core muscles and target diastasis recti. Here’s how to perform dead bug exercises:

  1. Starting Position: Lie on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling and your legs bent at a 90-degree angle, knees over hips.
  2. Engage your core by drawing your belly button in towards your spine and pressing your lower back into the floor.
  3. Lower one leg towards the ground while simultaneously extending the opposite arm overhead, keeping them a few inches off the floor.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
  5. Aim for 10-12 repetitions on each side.


The plank exercise is a highly effective way to strengthen the core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, which can help with diastasis recti. Here’s how to perform a plank:

Plank exercises are a great way to strengthen the core muscles and can be modified to accommodate different fitness levels.

  1. Starting Position: Begin by lying face down on the floor or mat, with your forearms and toes touching the ground.
  2. Engage your core by drawing your belly button in towards your spine and contracting your abdominal muscles.
  3. Lift your body off the ground, supporting your weight on your forearms and toes. Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe, making sure not to let your hips sag or lift too high.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, focusing on keeping your core engaged and breathing steadily.
  5. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position and repeat for 2-3 sets.


The crunch exercise is an effective way to strengthen the rectus abdominis and repair diastasis recti. To perform a crunch, start by lying face-up on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your hands behind your head or cross them over your chest. Then, gently lift your head and shoulders off the ground, keeping your lower back flat on the floor and imagining your belly hugging your spine.

Start with 2 sets of 5 reps and gradually work your way up to 10 reps as your strength and endurance improve. Remember to breathe steadily throughout the exercise and avoid straining or holding your breath.

Transverse abdominis breathing

Transverse abdominis breathing is a technique that focuses on activating and engaging the transverse abdominis and pelvic floor muscles to provide stability and support for the lower spine and internal organs. To activate the transverse abdominis, begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your lower belly and feel the muscles and your rib cage contract as you gently pull your belly button in towards your spine. Learning these techniques will greatly relieve any intra-abdominal pressure.

Heel taps

To perform heel taps for core strength and to work your lower back, abs, glutes, and thighs, begin by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet suspended off the floor. Keep your arms flat on the ground by your side for support.

Next, engage your core muscles and alternate tapping your heels to the floor while keeping the other leg suspended. As you do this, focus on maintaining a neutral spine position and keeping your pelvic muscles engaged. This will help to protect your lower back and maximize the benefits to your core muscles.

Cat Cow

The Cat Cow yoga pose involves moving between two positions. In the “cat” position, you arch your back upwards, rounding the spine and tucking the chin towards the chest. In the “cow” position, you extend the back downwards, lifting the head and tailbone while dropping the belly towards the mat.

This dynamic pose is known to improve flexibility and strength in the spine and abdomen. It helps to stretch and lengthen the spine, relieving tension and improving posture. The movement also stimulates and massages the organs in the abdomen, promoting digestion and overall gut health.

Glute bridge

The Glute Bridge exercise is a great way to target and strengthen your glutes. To perform this exercise, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your sides with your palms facing down.

As you lift your hips off the ground, it’s important to keep your inner thighs parallel to each other. This ensures that you are engaging the correct muscles and getting the most out of the exercise.

As you lift, exhale, and focus on driving through your heels and squeezing your glutes at the top. This will help you create a diagonal line from the top of your knees to your shoulders, which is the ideal position for this exercise.

Leg raise

To perform a leg raise exercise, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Inhale and fill your ribs and belly to prepare for the movement. As you exhale, activate your core breathing belly pump by drawing your belly button in towards your spine. While maintaining this activation, lift your toes off the ground and slide your heel away from your body to fully extend the leg. Inhale and relax your pelvic floor as you return your foot to the starting position. Repeat the movement on the other leg and continue alternating between legs.

Diastasis recti breathing exercises

Diastasis recti breathing exercises are an effective way to strengthen the core and promote healing for this condition. To perform these exercises, start by taking a deep breath in, allowing the ribcage to expand and the belly to rise. As you exhale, gently draw the belly button in towards the spine, engaging the deep core muscles, to activate the transverse abdominis, which is essential for healing diastasis recti.

It’s important to practice diaphragmatic breathing and maintain proper alignment during the exercises to prevent further strain on the abdominal muscles. Focusing on proper alignment and engaging the deep core muscles will help to improve core strength and promote healing for diastasis recti.

Modified plank

To perform a modified plank, start by positioning yourself on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders and your knees should be under your hips. Engage your core by pulling your belly button toward your spine. This will help you maintain proper form and avoid the doming of your stomach.

From this starting position, progress to a high plank by extending your legs straight behind you, keeping your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. Your shoulders, hips, and heels should be in alignment. Keep your core engaged by continuing to pull your belly button toward your spine and squeezing your glutes.

Cardio for diastasis recti

Walking is a great low-impact cardio exercise that can be easily incorporated into a diastasis recti workout routine. Swimming is another excellent option as it provides a total body workout without putting pressure on the abdomen. Stationary cycling is also safe for diastasis recti because it is a low-impact exercise that does not worsen the condition or cause additional strain on the back and pelvic floor.


In hypopressive exercises, individuals are guided to breathe in a way that stimulates the diaphragm and pelvic floor, while also incorporating postures and movements that encourage the engagement of the transverse abdominis and other deep core muscles. This combination of techniques helps to improve core strength, posture, and pelvic floor function by targeting the muscles that support these areas.

Abdominal hollowing

Abdominal hollowing is a core stability exercise that involves gently pulling in the lower part of the abdomen towards the spine. This action engages the transversus abdominis, a deep abdominal muscle that helps support the spine and maintain pelvic floor stability. When performing abdominal hollowing exercises, it’s important to avoid holding your breath or bracing the muscles in your buttocks, chest, or shoulders.

Reverse crunch

To perform a reverse crunch, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Inhale and engage your deep core muscles. As you exhale, lift your knees towards your chest, keeping them bent. Focus on using your abdominal muscles to lift your hips off the floor. Avoid using momentum or swinging your legs to initiate the movement.

Once your knees are lifted towards your chest, slowly lower your legs back down to the starting position while maintaining control over the movement. Be sure to continue engaging your core and focusing on proper breathing throughout the exercise. This will help to maximize the effectiveness of the reverse crunch and reduce the risk of straining your lower back.

Modified side plank

To modify the side plank, start in a kneeling position with your shoulder directly over your wrist. Extend your legs and lift your hips, forming a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Keep your core engaged and your body in a straight line, being mindful not to let your hips drop or sink. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds, focusing on proper breathing and maintaining correct form.

Single leg raise

To perform a single leg raise, start by lying on your back with your arms by your sides and your legs straight. Engage your core by gently pulling your belly button towards your spine and pressing your lower back into the floor. Keeping your pelvis still, lift one leg up towards the ceiling, keeping it straight. Use your abdominal wall to lift your leg, rather than relying on your hip flexors and lower back to prevent straining those muscles.

The key to the single leg raise is to maintain proper core mechanics and to activate your abdominal wall. It is important to focus on using your core to lift your leg, rather than relying on the wrong muscles. This will help in strengthening your core and lower back, and also prevent any unnecessary strain on your hip flexors and lower back.

Double leg lift

To perform a double leg lift exercise to strengthen the deep transverse abdominal muscles, lower abs, and hips, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Inhale to prepare, and then exhale as you elevate both legs together, ensuring that you are engaging your core throughout the movement. Keep your lower back pressed into the floor to target the deep transverse abdominal muscles more effectively. Lift your legs to a 45-degree angle or as high as you can control without arching your lower back. Slowly lower your legs back down to the starting position without letting them touch the floor.


To perform a sit-up with proper technique and form, start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your hands clasped behind your head. Engage your core muscles as you slowly lift your upper body off the ground, making sure to keep your feet flat on the floor the entire time. As you come up, remember to exhale, and then slowly lower back down to the starting position while inhaling.

Imaginary chair

Imaginary chair exercise is a great way to target your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, while also engaging your leg muscles. To perform the imaginary chair exercise:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forward. Imagine that there is an invisible chair behind you. Slowly lower your body down as if you were sitting back into the imaginary chair, keeping your weight in your heels. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor or as close as you can comfortably go. Engage your core muscles and maintain a straight back throughout the exercise. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, focusing on maintaining proper diaphragmatic breathing.

Supportive Practices Concurrently Designed Exercise

Supportive Practices Concurrently Designed Exercise

Supportive practices concurrently designed exercise is a holistic approach to fitness that emphasizes not only physical activity but also mental and emotional well-being. This approach recognizes that exercise alone is not enough to achieve overall wellness and that supportive practices such as mindfulness, stress reduction, and positive reinforcement are essential components of a healthy lifestyle.

Incorporating a balanced diet rich in proteins and fibers

A balanced diet rich in proteins and fibers is essential for overall health and weight management. Proteins are vital for muscle repair and growth, while fibers aid in digestion and help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. To incorporate these nutrients into every meal, include lean meats such as chicken, turkey, or fish, beans like black beans, lentils, or chickpeas, whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, or oatmeal, nuts and seeds like almonds, chia seeds, or flaxseeds, and a variety of vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and bell peppers.

The role of hydration in muscle recovery

Hydration plays a crucial role in muscle recovery. Several studies have shown the impact of dehydration on delayed recovery time and increased muscle soreness. Dehydration can lead to decreased muscle performance, impaired muscle glycogen synthesis, and increased protein breakdown, ultimately prolonging the recovery process. Proper hydration is essential for maintaining muscle function and reducing the risk of injury.

For active individuals, the recommended daily water intake is around 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women, although this can vary depending on factors such as exercise intensity, climate, and body size.

Importance of rest and recovery, as well as mental health considerations

Rest and recovery are essential for athletic performance and overall well-being. Adequate rest allows the body to repair and rebuild, reducing the risk of injuries and enhancing physical performance. Neglecting rest can lead to fatigue, decreased focus, and increased susceptibility to injuries, ultimately hindering an athlete’s performance.

Similarly, mental health is a crucial consideration for athletes. The demands of training and competition can take a toll on an athlete’s psychological well-being, leading to stress, anxiety, and burnout. Neglecting mental health not only impacts an athlete’s performance but also their overall quality of life.

Long-Term Management and Prevention

Long-term management and prevention are crucial aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and ensuring overall well-being. By implementing effective strategies and lifestyle changes, individuals can prevent the onset or progression of chronic diseases, manage existing conditions, and promote long-term health.

Strategies to prevent recurrence of diastasis recti post-recovery

To prevent the recurrence of diastasis recti post-recovery, it is essential to incorporate lifestyle changes and exercise routines that promote core strength without straining the abdominals. Maintaining a healthy weight, practicing proper posture and deep breathing, and avoiding activities that excessively strain the abdominals are crucial. Engaging in safe core exercises is also important.

A well-balanced exercise routine to prevent diastasis recti recurrence may include exercises such as abdominal hollowing, pelvic tilts, toe taps, and heel slides. These exercises focus on strengthening the core without placing excessive pressure on the abdominals. It is important to gradually progress in both intensity and volume of these exercises, and always pay attention to how your body responds.

Lifestyle modifications for overall well-being

Lifestyle modifications for overall well-being are essential for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life. Regular exercise, such as walking, running, or yoga, helps improve physical health and also reduces stress. Balanced nutrition, focusing on a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, provides essential nutrients for optimal health. Stress management techniques, like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or hobbies, help reduce the negative effects of stress on the body and mind.

Adequate sleep is crucial for overall well-being, as it allows the body to rest and rejuvenate, supporting optimal physical and mental function. Social connections, including spending time with friends and family or joining social groups, contribute to emotional well-being and provide a sense of belonging and support. Making these lifestyle modifications a priority can lead to improved overall well-being and a higher quality of life.

Tips on maintaining motivation and consistency in the long-term

Maintaining motivation and consistency in a deep core stability exercise program for postpartum women with diastasis recti abdominis is crucial for long-term success. Setting realistic goals is the foundation for staying motivated. By breaking down long-term goals into smaller, achievable milestones, women can experience a sense of accomplishment, which in turn fuels their motivation to continue. Creating a routine that incorporates the exercise program into daily life helps to establish consistency and make it a habit.

Optimize Your Recovery with Peak Endurance Physical Therapy

Peak Endurance Physical Therapy specializes in helping women optimize their recovery from diastasis recti, a condition that affects the abdominal muscles post-pregnancy. Our skilled and trusted team of experts provides personalized treatment plans and techniques that focus on restoring core strength, improving posture, and reducing pain for an efficient and effective recovery process. With Peak Endurance, women can regain their physical strength, confidence, and overall well-being, enabling them to enjoy a full and active life with their little ones.


The results of the study on Inter-recti separation have significant implications for the effectiveness of deep core stability exercise programs in treating diastasis recti and improving the quality of life for postpartum women. The decrease in Inter-recti separation observed in the study indicates that the exercise program is successful in targeting and strengthening the deep core muscles, which are essential for stabilizing the abdomen and reducing the separation of the recti muscles.

This decrease in Inter-recti separation contributes to the overall success of the exercise program by promoting improved abdominal function and reducing the symptoms of diastasis recti, such as back pain and pelvic pain. Furthermore, the improvement in Inter-recti separation also correlates with an improvement in postpartum women’s quality of life, as they experience reduced physical discomfort and better overall functional ability.


Welcome to our FAQ section! Here, we will address some of the most commonly asked questions about diastasis recti.

How long does it take for diastasis recti to heal with exercise?

While individual healing times may vary, with consistent and proper diastasis recti exercises, many individuals start to see improvements in diastasis recti within 6-8 weeks. However, it may take several months to fully heal the condition. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise routine for diastasis recti to ensure it is appropriate for your specific situation.

Can diastasis recti be fixed with exercise?

Yes, this condition can be effectively fixed with proper diastasis recti exercises, particularly core strengthening exercises. These exercises can help strengthen the abdominal muscles and reduce the width of the muscle gap that occurs in diastasis recti. Some effective exercises include wall sits, planks, pelvic tilts, and low squats.

What makes diastasis recti worse?

One factor that can make diastasis recti worse is incorrect posture and body mechanics. Poor posture, such as slouching or hunching over, can put additional strain on the abdominal muscles and worsen abdominal muscle separation. It is important to maintain proper posture throughout the day and during exercise to minimize the strain on the abdominal muscles.