Reduce your postpartum belly bulge, improve back pain, and correct diastasis recti with these essential exercises for long term results.
- Pelvic Tilt
- That’s it!
You carried your baby for 9 months. You felt your little bean wiggle, kick, and grow. And your belly grew with him. Of course you love your baby but not what happened to your core.
Diastasis recti and it’s signs
At least, that’s how I felt. My belly just had been stretched to watermelon size. I expected a protruding belly for a while. Especially since I wasn’t rigorous with my postpartum workout routine. I was prepared for the “mom bladder.” You know, peeing a little when you sneeze or laugh to hard. But what I wasn’t ready for was the back pain. The extreme weakness in my abdominals, even months after recovery. Getting my daughter in and out of her crib became increasingly hard and even painful as she grew.
At first I wrote it off to lack of exercise and strength training. Until one day when I picked up my daughter and I dropped to my knees from a severe muscle spasm in my low back.
It was scary. And I knew something more severe was going on. As a trainer, I knew about diastasis recti. I knew that it was a separation in the abdominals that occured from long term stretching in the belly from pregnancy. But until I had experienced it, I didn’t do too much research beyond that. I knew that it created an imbalance in the body, but I guess I underestimated the effect it could have on your daily life.
I lacked confidence after having my baby as my “pouch” continued to sag even after I lost most of my extra belly fat. It felt like my back would spasm and “give out” at the wrong angle or if I bent over just the right (more like wrong) way. Sleeping got more and more challenging because I felt like I had no back support no matter how I laid. I felt like I had no strength to pick up my daughter or the laundry. My hips were tight and sore even after I spent time stretching them out. And being the posture stickler that I am, I couldn’t stand the posture I adopted.
Now you may experience those and even more depending on your severity. Other signs are irregular output like leaking pee or constipation. Maybe even painful sex. If you aren’t sure if you are struggling with diastasis recti, talk with your doctor, midwife, or maybe see a physical therapist. In the mean time, to get an idea, you can test yourself at home.
What exercises correct diastasis recti
Before we dive into the exercises, it is a good idea to have a starting point of measure. You want to measure the width between the left and right abdominals using your fingers. Begin by laying flat on your back with one arm supporting your head as you slightly tuck your chin to your chest. Gently apply pressure to the midline of your belly just above your button. You will do this with your finger tips pointing towards your feet to see how many fingers wide the gap is. It’s always a good idea to have a healthcare professional check to confirm and/or diagnose.
For a visual you can check out The MOST ESSENTIAL Exercises to Correct Diastasis Recti | Lasting Results. A full instructional video on these exercises and their progressions. Otherwise, let’s dive in.
- Pelvic Tilt – Perform by laying flat on the floor on your back. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the ground about hip width. From there I like to place a hand on my belly to improve the mind muscle link. Start with an inhale expanding the belly, and as you exhale press your low back into the floor and tuck your tailbone off of the ground. Think about tilting your hips until the bottom of your buttocks are slightly lifted.
- Vacuum – Done on your back, seated upright, or in a table top (quadruped) position. Connect your breath with your abdominals. While maintaining an erect spine (do not allow any arching or rounding), begin by inhaling and expanding your belly. At the top of your inhale, release and draw your abdominals inward torward the spine until you have to take your nect breath.
Now both of these exercises MUST BE DONE WITH COMPLETE CONTROL and intention. So slow and steady tighten the tummy, ladies. Remember, in the beginning you are focused on activating these muscles with the proper mechanics. Not getting in as may reps as you possibly can while baby naps.
How can I see results for good
At this point you may be feeling like, that’s it? I only need these 2 exercises? Yes ma’am! That’s because I want you to focus on becoming a pro at these two movements. You should be able to do them with complete control until fatigue. Why? Because these exercises are the foundation you will lay to correct diastasis recti. They activate the deep core muscles, the transverse abdominis. These support your spine and provide you with erect posture.
As you progress your fitness routine, you will notice these two muscular engagements in almost every other exercise in some for or another. During a push-up, you need to vacuum on your way up to prevent your hips from sinking. For a squat, you need to tilt vacuum while in a pelvic tilt to support your posture as you stand. In a bicycle crunch, you need to tilt your pelvis to maintain proper engagement. When you press overhead, you need to vacuum to keep your hips beneath your shoulders. See?
So If you are a pro at these, then you will be able to do them while you are focused on engaging other parts of the body at the same time. And therefore activating the Transverse abdominis (deep, spine-supporting core muscles) in all exercise.
Long term results come from long term habits. And the more time you spend on these two movements, the more of a habit they will become. Before you know it you will be engaging your deep core just while standing and sitting. Providing your spine with the support it needs to maintain great posture.