Pregnant ladies, after the delivery of a baby, commonly complain of an abnormal gap between muscle belly around the navel. This can happen to anyone but is very common during pregnancy and postpartum.

The gap formation occurs between two bellies of rectus abdominis muscle in the linea alba. When the measure of gap formation exceeds 2 cm it is termed as diastasis recti. This also increases the risk of developing a hernia.

But fortunately, it can be managed effectively at home by following a few effective exercises. If you have the issue of diastasis rectus then read this article till the end to get the most out of it.

So, let’s get started.

Diastasis recti exercises

Diastasis recti is defined as a separation of the two muscle bellies of the rectus abdominis. To be termed as diastasis recti the minimum gap between the muscle bellies should be 2 cm. Though it can happen to anyone it is commonly associated with pregnancy and postpartum.

Our abdomen is supported by large flaps of muscles on the front and its sides. There are two large bellies of flat muscles present on the front of the abdomen known as rectus abdominis. It originates from the lower end of the thoracic cage and enters into the pubic symphysis at the bottom.

What causes diastasis recti

We all might have observed the sports personality or a bodybuilder with a six-pack on their abdomen. These six-packs formation actually is a strong rectus abdominis muscle bellies, a result of regular work out. While a strong rectus abdominis is important for a flat tummy when it becomes weak or stretched the belly or the content of the abdomen bulges out that we all know as belly bulge.

In a pregnant woman, especially during the third trimester, these muscles are under continuous stretch to create extra room to accommodate the baby bump. This constant pressure and stress cause a gap to create between the left and right bellies of the rectus abdominis. If this gap exceeds more than 2 cm then it is termed as diastasis recti.

So, whatever exercises we are going to learn here aims to strengthen these muscles this rendering of the muscles will help reduce the belly bulge, and in turn, it will help to reduce the gap. With this let us proceed with our exercises.

1) Static abdominal contraction

This is a kind of static strengthening exercise of abdominal muscles abdominal muscles are present on the front of our tummy so for this exercise your starting position should be lying on your back with your hip and knee bent

Take a deep inspiration and then slowly expel the air. During expiration contract your abdominal muscles and simultaneously press your hip towards the bed then again take a deep breath inside and repeat the exercise as described above

Repeat the exercises for a minimum of 10 to 15 times in a single session and twice daily.

Before we proceed to the other exercises let us first try to understand what actually is rectus diastasis and how these exercises would help you

2) Head lift with posterior pelvic tilt

Don’t get confused with the title of the exercise, it may sound complicated but it’s a very simple exercise. You can perform it very easily, just follow the instructions below.

The starting position for this exercise is lying on our back with hip, knees bent, and foot in contact with the floor. Cross your palm and finger behind the head. In this posture take a deep breath inside and slowly lift your head and shoulder off the bed while simultaneously breathing out.

We need to hold this position for 5 seconds and then lower down slowly, repeat this process for a minimum of 15 times in a single session.

3) Hip bending

For this exercise, your starting position is the same as the previous exercise. In this position, take normal breathing and lift one of your legs off the bed. Lift it to the point till the hip and knee come to 90 degrees angle, hold it for 5 seconds, and then lower down to initial position.

Repeat this on the opposite leg and hold it for 5 seconds. We need to repeat it alternately on the left and right leg for a minimum of 20 repetitions.

4) Cycling in the air

Once again the starting position would be the same as above. Lie down flat on your back with your knee and hip bent, feet on the floor. Lift both your legs off the ground so that the knee and hip come to a 90 degree of angle.

In this position, we need to straight our leg alternately one by one and bring it back to starting position. While straightening the leg you have to keep in mind that you should keep your leg off the bed. If we perform this exercise the movement of legs will look something like cycling on the air.

Another thing to keep in mind that this exercise is quite stressful on our lower back. So, if you have any low back issues such as disc bulge, sciatica you should better refrain from doing this.

5) Knee bending alternately

This exercise is quite similar to the exercise we just discussed but with a slight tweak. Here our starting position should be lying on the back with our knee and hip bent and foot in contact with the floor.

In this position, we need to straight or left and right legs alternately. But while doing this we have to keep in mind that we have to slide our heel on the floor and should not take our heel off the floor. Because we are not taking our heel off the floor, this exercise is less stressful on our back and anyone with lower back pain can perform this exercise.

Repeat the process for minimum of 20 times in a single session and two times daily.

6) Double straight leg raise

Before we proceed with the exercise, let me mention that it is also stressful on our low back. We strictly instruct to avoid this particular exercise if have any issue of lower back pain.

For this exercise to perform our starting position should be lying on our back with the leg straight. Now raise both of your legs simultaneously off the bed and bring it to roughly an angle of 30 degrees. Hold this position for 5 seconds, the best way is to count 1 to 5 and then lower it down slowly.

Repeat this exercise for minimum of 10 times in a single session.

7) Superman exercise

Very simple yet very effective exercise performed in a quadruped position. To perform this, first, come to quadruped position as shown in the figure. In this position raise one of your hand and opposite leg simultaneously and hold this position for 5 seconds.

For example, if we are raising our left hand we need to raise our right leg off the bed, while doing so we have to keep our elbow and knee as straight as possible. Balance yourself properly and hold this position for 5 seconds and then repeat it on the other side.

Repeat this process for minimum of 20 times in a single session. 

Final word

These exercises are aimed at strengthening of rectus abdominis muscle, a strong abdominal muscle is important for maintaining a flat tummy. Hence, these exercises will not directly help rejoining of the gap on muscle belly rather it will assist to keep them together.

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