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Experts Corner

Fitness

Exercises for Diastasis Recti (separation of abdominal muscles)
By Lisa Stone, ACE

Q. I am one month postpartum, and my abdominal wall is separated more than two finger widths. What can I do about this?

A. Here are some exercises that a physical therapist and I have developed for diastasis recti:

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your abdomen with your fingertips pointing down toward your pubic bone. Exhale as you slowly lift your head (and shoulders, if you can) while pressing down and in with your fingers - that will urge the rectus back together.

  2. Take a long towel and wrap it around your torso with the ends in front. As you perform a crunch, pull the ends of the towel towards each other in front of your belly button, which will also urge the muscle back together.

  3. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. As you exhale, slowly extend one leg along the floor, feeling your abdomen contract below your belly button. Inhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
You can do these exercises daily. After one week, re-check for separation. Since you are only one month postpartum, you will probably find that the separation heals within a couple of weeks. At that point, you can resume normal abdominal exercises.

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