Diastasis Recti: Closing the Gap

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print

Ok, here it is! Girl to girl, we need to discuss something I THINK is more common than I’ve ever believed! I’m getting a little personal and a little science-y on you today to talk about diastasis recti. Diastasis rect-who? Rect-ME! (Ok, stop).

I’m going to warn you up front. There is SO much to cover in this post—it’s a little long. If you wanna’ get straight to the meat (or the exercises you can do to fix your diastasis recti), scroll down. If you wanna’ learn more and figure out if you have this condition, keep reading.

Let me get you up to speed. Diastasis recti generally happens during pregnancy when the two large parallel bands of abdominal muscles separate due to the expanding uterus. Some women’s ab muscles go back to normal after the baby is born, and some do not…mine never have, and chances are yours haven’t either—which is why you are here.

The good news is that the diastasis caused by pregnancy can be corrected with exercises and stretches designed to optimize deep core muscular function. So ladies, don’t worry—your body wants to function right, and it will. We just need to wake up the right core muscles and teach them what to do! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Saving that for later.

Now how this happens and why it is worse for some women, no one is 100% sure. But we can hypothesize. It’s been said to be hereditary, but it may also be caused by working out your abs too soon after a baby is born, or even doing the wrong exercises WHILE pregnant. While I didn’t workout during ALL of my pregnancies (just the last 2), I personally feel like working my abs hard during prego worsened my condition. But that’s just my opinion.

Crazy fact, I didn’t even notice my ab separation until after Cash was born!! Yes, 3 kids later. I mean, I knew it was there, but I didn’t realize it was a medical condition. Embarrassingly enough, I always just thought I had definition down the center of my abs! Ha! Nope…wishful thinking. Just diastasis. Once I realized this odd look my midsection had wasn’t normal, nor was it normal for me to be able to literally stick my hand inside of my abs and touch my insides with just skin separating, I knew I had to do something about it. If you’d like a visual, just check out the pic below. This was posted on social media a couple of weeks back, and I got an overwhelming response from women (you!) that suffer from the same condition…

IMG_9470opt

From a medical standpoint, until recently, I had a little over a 3-finger sized gap between my abs that was physically unprotected. Like I said, intestines…right below my skin. And during certain ab exercises, my insides would actually protrude through my abs, forming a weird point. Disgusting, I know. And it’s even scarier to think how vulnerable my vital organs were. If this went untreated, I could suffer from a major intestinal hernia, and given my level of activity (and types of heavy lifting), chances of this happening are higher than most. I mean, I already have an obvious umbilical hernia (my dramatic outtie belly button) so I figure I am more prone than most…

Extensive research on the topic taught me a few things…one of them being there are a handful of factors that make a woman more susceptible to diastasis recti:

  • Having more than one child/pregnancy
  • Having pregnancies close together
  • Being?over the age of 35
  • Having big babies
  • Having multiple births

I know…some of you are looking at this ist realizing you’ve been double—or even quadruple—whammied! (I?m raising my hand to a couple). Don?t beat yourself up about what you cannot change because diastasis recti is very common—about 67% of all postpartum women have it. So you (and I) are in good company.

If you’re not sure if you are among the lucky few who steered clear of this pregnancy consequence, here’s an easy way to check:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, soles of your feet close to your booty.
  2. Place one hand behind your neck and the other hand on your abdomen with your fingertips flat at your belly button, fingers facing downward.
  3. Gently push your fingertips into your abdomen while rolling your upper body off of the floor, chin towards the ceiling.
  4. Feel for a separation between those two ab muscles. Experts say that a 2-2.5 finger or more spread signals diastasis recti.

DiastasisRectiTestopt

Now, let’s talk about our options moving forward. We can go the immediate and potentially easy (but expensive) route with surgery. BUT, surgery is not always recommended if you are still in your childbearing years…I mean think about it, one more baby, and you’ll pop those abs right back apart! As well, there is no guarantee that surgery will be 100% effective. (SIDE NOTE…Research on this topic started once Chris told me NO to this option because he wants more babies! Another topic for another day…but…).

So for me, at-home exercises and remedies are the way to go. Anytime I can avoid going under the knife, I will. And worst case? If the exercises don’t work, surgery as an option is always going to be there.

Before we go farther—a very important disclaimer: The following “fixes” are all based on my experience and my research, so please check with your doc BEFORE doing anything for your diastasis recti since each case is different. Okay, here goes:

Over this past year, my training protocol has changed as I have transitioned from CrossFit-style workouts to body building. Along with the training change-up, I changed the way I worked my abs too, focusing on decreasing (actually eliminating) the typical ab exercises and increasing the deep-core muscle exercises. I am happy to report that over this year, my abdominal muscle separation has decreased dramatically to less than 2 fingers!! But it still isn’t quite where I need it to be to consider myself healed.

DiastasisRectiTest2optcropped

The proof is in the pudding for me: A lot of this boils down to doing the RIGHT exercises. I realize that for so long I was doing what I intuitively thought would work (swing ups, sit ups, V ups, knees to bar, etc), but in reality, these move were working against me by ONLY working my Rectus Abdominus. The REAL muscles that needed working are known as the Transversus Abdominus and Lumbar Multifidus. These are the the most neglected of the ab muscles, but also happen to be arguably the most important. They lie beneath the Rectus Abdominus, supporting posture, controlling breathing during heavy lifts, and supporting the back. These are the muscles elite athletes work to add explosive power to training and are also the muscles we mamas need to work to relieve back pain, create a tighter midsection, AND improve our diastasis recti.

Some at-home exercises you can do to focus on these important muscles are below. I’ve also recorded a demonstration video for you (at the bottom of the post) so you can SEE how to perform these moves right and hear my instructions.  Make sure that when you do these moves, you focus and move slowly—keeping the mind body connection. In other words, don’t just go through the moves. You’ll notice that breathing is a KEY component to all of these movements: Deep inhales, and exhale when you activate the muscles.

    1. Drawing In Exercise: Now technically every single move listed below requires you to “draw in,” so I figured I would do a little explaining. Drawing in is NOT sucking in (which uses the outer muscles). Drawing in is done by allowing those inner muscles to pull your abdomen deep inside toward your spine. Draw in from the lower region of your abs. Drawing in is something you can do in sets for as long as you can hold (work up to 60 seconds at a time), or it’s something you can simply do as you walk around your house. Believe it or not, your posture will improve big time with this! This can be done standing, sitting, lying down…you name it. Just DRAW IN!
    2. Vacuuming: No…not vacuuming your carpet (although I guess technically you can vacuum ON your carpet). I’m talking about the core exercise known by this name. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’m going to talk about it again. Easily explained, simply stand up straight, inhale deeply, followed by an exhale. Once all of the air is deflated from your lungs, draw your belly button in and up toward your spine. HOLD (as tough as it is) for as long as you can. I aim for 30 seconds, but if holding your breath that long isn’t doable, simply keep the clock running and keep your belly button in and tight as you slowly breathe for the remainder of the 30 seconds. Try for 5-10 reps a day.
    3. Broomstick Rotations: With a dowel or a broomstick behind your neck, perform a vacuum, then when all air is exhaled and you are holding your breath with your abs squeezed, slowly rotate from side to side until you cannot hold your breath any longer. Breathe. Repeat 5-10 times.
    4. Abduction with Core Activation: Lie on your back with a resistance band around your knees. Exhale, engage your core and pelvic floor and pull your knees apart. Relax, inhale, and repeat for 10 reps. Be sure to keep your spine neutral and don’t press your lower back into the ground.
    5. Heel Slide: Lie on your back with both knees bent, feet flat. Exhale as you engage your core and pelvic floor, and slide one heel slowly along the ground until your leg is straight. Inhale and relax, then engage your core, exhale, and draw that heel back. Do 5 reps on each leg.

Once again, scroll to the bottom for my step-by-step video.

Now when it comes to traditional training and weight lifting, consider wearing a weight belt. It has worked WONDERS for me. Not only will a weight belt support your core while lifting heavy loads, but more importantly, it will act as a cue/reminder to activate and draw in with your core while lifting. Otherwise, we are naturally prone to distending our bellies during heavy lifting, only worsening our diastasis recti. This is the one I use…

HP Weight Belt opt

So ladies, however you choose to take care of your diastasis recti, whether DIY exercises or surgery, know you are making the choice that is right for you! It’s a medical condition and not just a vain aesthetic concern, so if surgery is what you choose, then surgery it is! But if exercises are your method of healing, please keep me up to speed on your progress.

And in the meantime, have those babies, LOVE those babies, and appreciate every consequence of having such perfect little miracles! #BattleWounds

And finally…the demonstration vid…;)

Xoxo,

Heidi

Related reading:

Ask Heidi Anything: Carb Cycling While Prego?
My 1st Post Ruby Workout
My Pregnancy Workout: The Nasty 9s
My 5 Gym (and Home Gym) Must-Haves

262 Responses

    1. Hi Alejandra: You can do the vacuums and vacuum twists every day, and the other exercises can be done every other day. Hope that helps! 🙂

  1. Thank you so much for all of this information! I have diastasis recti from a twin pregnancy, but I?ve managed to mostly close the gap through exercises like the ones you listed. However my belly still looks like I am pregnant, even though I?m back to my prepregnancy weight. Do you know if this is common, to close the gap but still have a belly bump?

    1. Hi Tayna: Thank you for reaching out! Since each case of diastasis recti can be different, if you have any concerns, we’d recommend you talk with your healthcare professional. And yay for closing your gap! ??

  2. Hello

    I train in the gym and do lifting does leg press and heavy hip thrusts and deadlifts make it worse or can I still do them whilst healing my ab separation?

    1. Hi Meena: If you have any questions or concerns about your diastsis recti, since each case can be different, I’d definitely talk with your healthcare provider and go from there. 🙂

  3. Wow, you look great, Heidi! I had no idea you could a flat stomach (never mind a beautiful well-defined one like yours) when you have DR. And now I want to know how, of course. Also, how long did it take to close your DR by over 1 finger width?

    1. Hi Polly: How long it takes to heal DR depends on several factors, to there’s not a one-size-fits all answer, unfortunately. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  4. Hi Heidi-what a super helpful post. Many women don?t even realize this is a thing. I saw a Physical Therapist for pelvic floor issues and she also addressed this. She recommended I push my gapped muscles together while exercising. Some ways to do that is to push them together with my fingertips, if possible, wrap a band or long sheet around my waist in a kind of criss-cross pattern, and/or tape it by pinching them together and taping in a criss cross pattern-one below and one above the belly button. It is truly a process and even after two years, my gap is still there, but smaller.

  5. Hi Heidi-what a super helpful post. Many women don?t even realize this is a thing. I saw a Physical Therapist for pelvic floor issues and she also addressed this. She recommended I push my gapped muscles together while exercising. Some ways to do that is to push them together with my fingertips, if possible, wrap a band or long sheet around my waist in a kind of criss-cross pattern, and/or tape it by pinching them together and taping in a criss cross pattern-one below and one above the belly button. It is truly a process and even after two years, my gap is still there, but smaller.

  6. I?m so glad I stumbled across this! I?ve been struggling with my diastasis recti on and off for the last 2 years and the technique in this is just what I needed for strengthening my core without further aggravating.

    Do you have any stretching/relaxation exercises you can recommend for your core while pulling it back together that won?t exacerbate the separation?

    Thank you!

  7. I had a flat abdomen after my children then about 7 years ago the top of my abdomen protruded out where I couldn?t even breath and the move exercise the worse it got. I?m a type 1 diabetic . I?ve lost weight but the top of my abdomen protruded more. I?ve seen specialist and nothing. I?m so… uncomfortable. How can I get a doctor to repair this, now going on 7 years? And health insurance. I can?t even sleep well. I?ve waisted money on gyms. I?m desperate even more. I?m buying clothes to fur the stomach area to where I am looking bad in my clothes. Please Help.. I?ve gotten my A1C down to 6.4 and going down . I just want to feel comfortable.,

    1. Hi Donna: I’m so sorry to hear about all you’re going through, and I cannot imagine how difficult this all is for you. Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished with getting your A1C down! Unfortunately, with any type of medical condition and since we’re not medical professionals, we’d recommend you work with a professional healthcare worker to figure out how best to resolve this issue. Hopefully, you can find someone who understands how to help you better. We wish you all the best!

  8. Hi, I just got my second baby and now I have this flubby stomach and gap. If I do this exercise to bring back everything will my stomach be flat again and gap will be repaire? And how many minutes each excercises?

    1. Hi Denise: Yes, these exercises can help repair your gap, and if you haven’t already spoken with your healthcare team about your gap, we’d recommend you do that also. For flabby skin, unfortunately, you really can?t spot reduce. Any unwanted fat will leave our bodies in its own unique way. Follow a healthy nutrition plan and work out regularly, including resistance training in your workouts, and you?ll get there!

    1. Hi Anna: I just checked on my phone, and the video is showing correctly. It might be something with your phone and/or internet connection. I hope you can get it to play! If not, the video is also on Heidi’s YouTube channel, and you might be able to view it that way: https://youtu.be/QiE3n7HLsxg We wish you all the best! 🙂

  9. Hi
    It?s been 11 years since I had my last baby. Over the years I?ve noticed my stomach definitely looks different up the middle. I?ve tried different exercises but still have the gap going on. I?ve just recently searched for information and found DR info – I had never heard of that before. After 11 years is it still possible to repair with exercise? Thanks

    1. Hi Beverly: Yes, it’s not too late! And remember, it will take patience and consistency on your part to make a difference.

  10. I just want to thank you SO much for sharing these exercises! It has made such a BIG difference in my stomach! I have such a small frame and my stomach stuck out so much even though I was back at my pre-pregnancy weight. This gives me so much more confidence and I can wear the clothes I used to wear again without worrying that I still look pregnant!

  11. hello, i just want to ask ive plan to have my second child but i noticed that i have this gap, is it okay to get pregnant with it, or ill just heal it at once before getting pregnant again, thanks if you’d answer this ..

    1. Hi Sheera: With any form of diastasis recti, it’s best to discuss any questions and concerns you have with your healthcare team. We wish you all the best!

  12. I?m a mom of 3, age (8, 4 and 2) and I just heard about DR from a friend. I measured it and it?s a 2 fingers gap. I?m a petite woman (5?3? 105lb) so my pooch belly is obvious. Since the last baby was 2 years ago, is it healed or I would need to work out? If I do need to put some effort into it, what kind of workout do you recommend? I really want a flat tummy, abs would be great too 🙂 Thank you!

    1. Hi Jess: If you have any questions or concerns about whether or not you have DR, I’d definitely talk with your healthcare team. Since you did find a 2-finger gap, you probably do have DR, but again, I’d talk with your healthcare team as far as workouts go and if vacuum twists will work for you. We’d hate to recommend something that wouldn’t be best for you and your goals. 🙂

  13. Thank you for the post.
    I?m 2.5 months PP and realize I have a two finger separation ;/
    My questions is while I do all the exercises from your post, can I still workout? I did crossfit for years and I also, transitioned over the last two years into more of a body building training type.
    I was able to workout until the day before I gave birth and able to workout again before the 6 weeks PP.
    Now, I?m just wondering if I can still lift since we kind of use our core for more than just abs exercises.
    Thank you in advance for your response.

    1. Hi Steph! Yes, you can still work out, but be careful of doing core-specific exercises other than those to help heal diastasis recti until your gap is healed. Hope that helps!

  14. Hi! I?m a mom of two my oldest is 12 and I?ve noticed recently that my abs are building out rather than getting that flat toned look. I did a self check for DR and I don?t have it from what I can tell. What else would cause my abs to build out? I want a flat tummy but it seems the more I work my abs they get toned but bulkier and makes me look like I have a little pouch. It?s frustrating. Any tips for this.

    1. Hi Rebecca: I would recommend concentrating more on these vacuum twists (https://heidipowell.net/19042), which work the inside ab muscles more, and less on specific core work. This is what Heidi recommends. Hope this helps!

  15. Which doc/surgeon did Heidi end up using for her correction surgery? I?ve been told my gap and hernia are so far gone, surgery is only option. I want a surgeon who will correct hernia and sew abs back together. Two sets of twins did me in

    1. Hi Ashely: Unfortunately, I don’t have that information. And two sets of twins? Wow! That’s amazing! 🙂

    2. i?m 13 years old and i have this and idk why because i?ve never had kids and i really hate my body because all my friends have flat stomach and abs and mine potruds out and looks weird idk what to do…

    3. Hi Sky: Thank you for your comment. 🙂 It can be so tough to be a teen these days. And it’s so easy to compare our unique bodies to everyone else’s. The best things you can do are to make sure you’re eating a healthy diet full of lean proteins (chicken, pork loin, etc.), healthy carbs (beans, fruits, vegetables, whole grains), and healthy fats (nuts, etc.). And be sure you’re drinking water every day, too, and getting in some type of movement most days of the week. And we’d also recommend you talk about this with a parent and adults you trust. Like I said, each one of our bodies is unique?not like anyone else’s. One thing that might help is to be grateful and keep reminding yourself of all the amazing things your body can do just like it is! Here are some blog posts that might help with the nutrition side of things:

      https://heidipowell.net/11162
      https://heidipowell.net/4514
      https://heidipowell.net/18584
      https://heidipowell.net/7201

      You’re amazing…just like you are! 🙂

    4. Hi Heidi,
      At what DR gap is it ok to start doing normal sit-ups?
      In 8 months I went from 2 fingers to just under 1 finger, the gap pushes out my finger a bit both below and above my belly button… good to go?
      Thanks a bunch, Rapha?la

    5. Hi Raphaela: Great question! I’d definitely talk to your healthcare team about this and then follow their recommendations. We’d hate to recommend the wrong thing for you, and congratulations on all the amazing progress you’ve made! 🙂

    6. I’ve been told i grip with my ribs which is making my pooch worse. How can I make sure I am not doing that with the drawing in?
      I really want to do this and get strong abs. Thankyou.

    7. Hi Fiona: Try remembering it’s like a string pulling your belly button back to your spine when you draw in. It’s not just a sucking in. Make sense? You got this!

    8. Hi
      Will these exercises help to lose the belly fat? I have a 2 finger gap for 8 weeks I’ve been doing diet and exercises which I’ve lost a lot of weight over and my belly is going down a lot. As I’m doing the diastitis recti movements to help with my ab muscles separation, will they also help with the belly loss? Many thanks

    9. Hi Gabrielle! Unfortunately, you really can’t spot reduce. Any unwanted fat will leave your body in its own unique way. So follow a sound nutrition program, work out regularly, keep doing your vacuum twists, and you’ll get there! 🙂

  16. Is it true that if you have myomectomy surgery and the doctor does a vertical incision, your lower belly will never go down afterwards?

  17. Hi! I’ve been searching the internet and cant find the answer. I’m praying you have it!

    My DR is finally about a finger width separated but in-between isnt super firm.. or maybe it seems more soft because of loose skin?

    If it’s about a one finger separation, does it matter how firm the middle is?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Cicely: If you have any concerns or questions about your case of DR, I’d talk with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations and advice. We wish you al the best! 🙂

    2. Hi Heidi .. been following you lately. I have a 7 year old son and always wondered why my tummy does not get flat despite all sorts of exercises.. well it turns out I have D.R and was doing more harm than good/healing.. is it possible that I can heal after 7 years of damage?? The soft and bulgy part is more on my top part above the navel… that V, how can I heal it and closing the gap

    3. Hi! It can be possible to still heal, but it would be a great idea to talk to your healthcare team about this and then follow their recommendations. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  18. Hello. I see lots of references to a health care team. Who would that be? I?ve had umbilical hernia surgery and the surgeon would not give me a referral for PT saying ?I won?t make a difference hernias don?t heal themselves? My primary doc just deferred to the surgeon. I have what I think is a 3 finger DR, but no one I?ve talked to in health care thinks that?s an issue but I don?t want another hernia.

    1. Hi Clementine: Your healthcare team consists of the doctors, physician’s assistants, nurses, pharmacist, physical therapists…anyone who you see for any health-related issues/concerns. And there’s nothing ever wrong with expanding your team to those professionals who can help you with any issues. Hope that clears things up! 🙂

    2. You don’t need a referral to go see a physical therapist. Surgeons are great at surgery but they have a linear way of thinking about the body’s healing capabilities. Don’t underestimate the intelligence that is your body. If I were you I would go see a physical therapist, which can be beneficial for just about anything!

  19. Hi I have diastasis recti up to three fingers, i was just pulled out from my regular abs workout and now I?m kind of lost as I don?t want to loose what I?ve built, my last baby is 22 months now. I was wondering if you can hep me with a routine DR friendly or is just a matter of doing the exercises always with the draw-in?

    1. Hi Maria: Before doing anything to help close that gap, please consult with your healthcare team about your DR and then follow their recommendations as to which exercises are best for you. If they give these exercises the okay, then go for it! 🙂

  20. Hi! I am 6 months postpartum and have completed a different DR healing program – before I knew you had one! I just measured and I have a 1.5 finger gap- I started with a 3 finger gap. Is this still considered DR? Is it safe to do regular workouts such as sit ups and planks? I’m really wanting to do the Transform App and am trying it for a month but already on the first day I saw sit ups which I’ve learned can make the problem worse if not healed yet. Please help!

    1. Hi Ruth: I’d definitely ask your healthcare team if you have any concerns/questions about your DR since the correct treatment can be different for each person. Also, in the app, you can choose a modified/alternate movement when necessary or skip a movement altogether if recommended by your healthcare team. And congratulations on getting that gap from 3 to 1.5!

    2. Hi, I have just had my second child who is 4 months and my first child is 2. After both children I measured my gap which is a 1 finger gap. Before having both children I also had a 1 finger gap. Would you say this is natural as I have testing friends that haven?t had children and theirs is naturally 1 finger.
      Thank you x

    3. Hi Charlie: As far as we know, a 1 finger gap can be normal, but if you have any concerns, please discuss them with your healthcare team. And congratulations on the new baby! 🙂

    4. I’m 15 years post partum. I have several medical conditions that limit my mobility but I know that the healthier I am the less I will hurt and the better I’ll feel in general. I’m 41 and honestly feeling ugly and disgusting. I’ve had to have several stomach surgeries since my last child because of my colon and one was a complete cut from the top of my stomach to my bikini line. I have had the kangaroo pouch since my last pregnancy- he was almost 10 lbs- and I knew that something wasn’t right with my stomach. A year ago I researched and found that this was my issue and that my colon surgery had made the condition worse.
      With all this, would doing these exercises even work?

    5. Hi Bonita: You’ve definitely been through a lot. I’d discuss these exercises with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations. What is best for one woman might not be the best for another, and your doctor is the best one to help you decide what’s best for you. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  21. Hi, I use the exercises here and also some other exercises and I am now at about 1 finger space. I just want to know if it’s possible to go to no space? Is there an end point to this?

    1. Hi Jacintha: You’re doing amazing! I’d definitely talk to your healthcare team about this and follow their recommendations. 🙂

    1. Hi Ravinder: It can take some time for your skin to bounce back after pregnancy, so please be patient and hopefully you’ll see some improvement! And be sure you’re following a great nutrition program and working out regularly (both cardio and strength training). You got this! 🙂

  22. Hi Heidi! Thank you for this information. I was wondering, is it possible to have diastasis recti without having a kid? I’m 29 and have always had a diamond body shape. It can be very frustrating and embarrassing when shopping for clothes. Even worse because I am 5’2. I also weigh below 130, but I have never had kids. I’m not quite sure what kind of doctor I should speak to about this issue. A specialist? I’m afraid of going to a plastic surgeon consultation because I feel like they will only want to sell me a “quick fix” rather than tell me the truth about correcting the issue. I doubt they would tell be it could be repaired through diet and exercise. I’m completely discouraged and very insecure so any information is helpful. I’ve read several articles online, but they are mainly directed toward mothers. I’m starting to think I did some abdominal damage and created separation from doing several sit up and crunches in middle school. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Destiny: I would definitely talk to your ob/gyn about this, and it does make sense that you could have some ab separation without having given birth. We wish you all the best as you work to find out what’s going on! 🙂

  23. Hello
    I followed a routine on a youtube video for DR during 6 weeks .. however i have not seen a change… seems my DR just got worse… more noticeable which is very dissapointing …
    How many times a week do you recommend doing these exercises(in your video)???

    1. Hi Liliana: Heidi does these vacuum twists every day. If you haven’t already done so, I’d talk to your healthcare team about your DR and then follow their recommendations since each case and the treatment for each case can be different for each women. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  24. Hello dear. It seems that i have DR about 3 fingers. My question is I would like to do these exercises but I also willing to do full body workout. What kind of workouts can I do beside to DR workouts? because you mentioned that some exercises will act negatively to the DR if we did them.

    1. Hi Aliya: With any case of DR, we recommend you work with your healthcare team about any workout program and exercises, including those in this post. Since each case of DR, and the treatment for each case, can be a bit different, it is best to chat with your team and go from there.

    2. I just wanted to thank you. I started doing these exercises in late February after having my second baby June 5th of 2018, and FINALLY my DR is closing. I have tried numberous programs in the past, including Mutu and many others, and it just wasn?t fixing it. After doing these exercises daily I have seen SO MUCH improvement. I am so grateful I found your site. THANK YOU!!

  25. Hey Heidi, Thanks for the info. I was wondering if I can use an abdominal belt instead of the weight belt that you?ve shown. The one I have is like a corset which I was given when I was in the hospital after my c sec delivery 8 months back to help with the pain in my stitches during movement. And if yes should I be performing the exercises you?ve shown wearing this belt? Also does it help if I wear this belt during the day even when I?m not exercising? Kindly answer, it will help me with my fitness goals a lot. Thank you and God bless you!!

    1. Hi Shikha!
      I am not a healthcare professional. However, I am a mother of two and gave birth at home with a traditional midwife. With postpartum, we had to bind (wrap cloth/ wear corset) our belly for at least 40 days post birth. This helps to bring the Rectus Abdominus together to heal Diastasis recti and prevent hernia.

      Again I am not a healthcare provider, but I would recommend you wear your corset as soon as you wake in the morning until you are ready for bed. Obviously not to wear in the shower or while you sleep.

      I would also suggest you watch YouTube videos about the pelvic floor muscles and exercises. Which is to say kegle( spelling?) exercises.

      I hope you find this helpful!

    1. Hi Britt: With any type of ab coning, we recommend you discuss the issue with your healthcare team and then go from there. You could show them these exercises and see if they think they would help! 🙂

    1. Hi Bek: Based on what we know, if you can fit 2 fingers into the gap between your ab muscles when contracted, then you have diastasis recti. If you have any concerns about whether or not you have DR, I’d chat with your healthcare team and then go from there. 🙂

  26. Hi! I have two boys, 4 and 5.5. Is it still ?fixable? at this point, so long after my boys? When I stand up I feel like I still look pregnant unless I suck in, and I?m a smaller frame (119 and 5?6?), and when I lay down you can see the skin (what looks like) falling down the center of my gap. It?s so discouraging and sad! I feel like I?ve lost hope to lose this weird pooch, despite everything I try.

    1. Hi Brittany: Yes, I believe this is fixable, but it would be best to talk to your healthcare team about what is best for you to do. Fixing the gap can be different for each woman, and we ‘d hate to recommend something that wouldn’t be best for you. And please don’t lose hope – you can do this! 🙂

  27. Thank you so much for sharing this and informing others who are going through these challenges with some very valuable and helpful information! And for still being active in replying to comments all this time later! You are a rock star!
    I had a spontaneous, very unexpected triplet pregnancy 2yrs ago. I lead a very active lifestyle and my gap has managed to close pretty much on its own, mostly in the last year while the kids have been more willing to let me exercise, haha. But the connective tissue is still shot! I get that protruding dome that is reminiscent of some alien film whenever I utilize my core incorrectly. Unfortunately, my skin was not particularly elastic, either, so I wonder if my genetics are simply such that this connective tissue will never snap back. I wondered if these exercises have helped your body to negate that dome effect entirely, or, similar to mine, have they simply closed to gap so that the dome is much smaller? I guess your skin looks pretty snappy so maybe your connective tissue is more snappy as well. Haha. But this would be very hehelpful to me! Thank you!

    1. Hi Alicia: And triplets? Yay! 🙂 These exercises can help different women in different ways since each case of DR can be a bit different. I’d chat with your healthcare team about what will be best for you. 🙂

    2. Hi. I’m 10 month PP..feeling ready to get back into my body training. How many times a week can the core/abs workkout be done? How many rest days between workouts for lower versus upper body?

    3. Hi Deanna: For any resistance workouts, you’ll want to wait 48 hours before working the same muscle groups again. You can do these vacuum twists every day. Hope that helps! 🙂

  28. I have a 1 finger width gap. I am 12 weeks post partum and lost all my baby weight by week 10 but still have a small round pooch on my stomach. I am wondering if this is still left over baby weight and maybe weight has just ditributed differently? ( I had a flat tummy before pregnancy and gained 30lbs during pregnancy) or if this pooch is from the diastasis recti?

    1. Hi Katie: Congratulations on your new baby! Have you discussed your DR with your healthcare team? And only being 12 weeks postpartum, your body is still recovering and it can take several months for you to feel like you’re back to “normal.” Be patient with yourself, follow a healthy meal plan, work out as you can, and you’ll get there! 🙂

  29. What about if you have this and the horrible hanging stomach? Do you think this will help? you have a pretty toned stomach already , my daughter is already 4 I have lost 40 lbs im skinny and I still have a tummy

    1. Hi Merranda: These exercises can help tighten and strengthen your core. As for loose skin from weight loss, each person’s skin can react differently to weight loss, and hopefully yours will tighten up. And congratulations on losing 40 lbs – that’s amazing!!!

  30. I’ve read conflicting articles about planks or kick boxing. Are they bad or good for correcting DR? I’m 2.5 years post partum from my 3rd child. 2 C-sections, then VBAC. All big babies. I’d like to get back to a workout program I had but it included planks (side and traditional), burpees, etc. I’m also looking at a Kickboxing type HIIT program.

    1. Hi Heather: With any degree of DR, it’s best to chat with your healthcare team about what would be best for you. Each case, and the treatment, can be different, so we’d hate to recommend something that wouldn’t be good for you. 🙂

  31. Hi – I am pregnant with my 4th baby, and have trained through all of my pregnancies. About 8 months ago I began using the Powell?s Transform app program, and I?m currently on my 2nd round of cross training (advanced.) I just do what the app tells me to do and call it good, but I have also never done super targeted core workouts while pregnant. Are there any core exercises contained in the transform sequence that wouldn?t be advised as they might contribute to a Diastasis? Thanks!

    1. Hi Leighanna: Congratulations on your pregnancy! We recommend you discuss any exercise program and any exercises – especially core/ab exercises – with your healthcare team while pregnant and then follow their recommendations. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  32. Hi there! Question: do you recommend staying away from all other ab exercises until these are mastered and the separation is fully healed? Mine is moderate, juuust 2 inches apart. I don’t have any symptoms, but definitely still look pregnant a year later 😉 So I’m wondering if I should avoid doing traditional ab exercises and focus on these first. Thank you!

    1. Hi Ana: I’d definitely talk with your healthcare team about this and then follow their recommendations since what is good for one woman might be the totally wrong thing for another. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  33. Thank you for this! I am 10 months postpartum with my first and had a diastasis recti starting at 19 weeks pregnant. I was doing all the wrong workouts. Since being diagnosed I worked hard not to make it worse during pregnancy and bringing it back in after my son was born. I went from a 3 finger gap to a 1-1.5 finger gap currently. I sometimes have the tiniest cone, but not very noticeable. I haven’t been able to close my gap completely. When did you start doing all ab exercises again or did you never go back to normal crunches/planks/push ups?

    1. Hi Mary: I know that Heidi does do these exercises, but I’d talk to your doctor about when it would be appropriate for you to do them. And congratulations on going from 3 fingers to 1.5 fingers – that’s so exciting! 🙂

  34. Hello! I just wanted to post from a different perspective. 🙂
    I was one of the unlucky few after childbirth where the gap didn’t close at all. Mostly due to heredity, I’m guessing. Weight was lost and I was very fit. But… the gap didn’t close and I was suffering from other issues as well (incontinence, prolapse and the general feeling that my intestines were just about outside my body).
    I finally consulted several doctors, and after years of deliberation after two babies, I made the decision to close the gap surgically for my own health. I’ve healed well so far, and despite the fact that there are no guarantees, so far it’s been the right choice for me.
    Exercise and self care are always a best bet!! But, I did want to point out that in the event that a woman turns to surgery, be sure to consult with surgeons who are board certified. It will save you unnecessary health risks and ensure you get the results that you desire! And then be willing to continue to self improve with the appropriate self care (diet and exercises) after. No better investment than your own body! 🙂
    Happy to have stumbled on this article, even it if its a bit late! Now I have new exercises to use as I continue to heal from surgery!!

  35. Hi heidi – thank you for this information. I am 44 year old man and just diagnosed with rectus diastasis after a second abdominal surgery – the second to repair a hernia and reconstruct my abdomin. I am hesitant to have another surgery for obvious reasons. Do your excercises work for men as well ?

    1. Hi Jeff: Yes, they can work for both men and women, but please discuss any exercises with your healthcare team first and get their okay or modifications. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  36. Hey there! I was wondering about how long these need to be done until the DR is healed? Or is everyone completely different? Thank you!

    1. Hi Charity: Yes, each person is different. But you can actually do these exercises to keep your core strong even after your DR is healed! 🙂

    2. Hello there…. thank you sooo much for the detailed information. I just found out I have diastasi recti (3 fingers separation). Baby is now 19 month old… So I’m starting to educate myself about it so I can start doing the right exercises to bring healing. I wanted to asked you will the flex belt / slendertone ( electric muscle stimulator) help alongside the exercises you talked about and a healthy diet?

    3. Hi Dayana: Heidi doesn’t use this product, but I’d definitely ask your healthcare team what they think about using it. Happy DR healing! 🙂

  37. I just had my second baby (five years after my first) 4 weeks ago. Last night I did the “test” and felt a two finger separation! I’m bummed. So, is it actually possible to close/repair the diastasis recti? Should I wait 6 weeks before doing these exercises? Is there ever going to come a time when doing regular abdominal exercises is ok? If so, how will I know when? Also, what should I try if I am having trouble finding/feeling the pelvic floor? Thank you SO MUCH!

    1. Hi Gladys: Congratulations on your new baby! I’d definitely discuss this with your healthcare team at your next appointment and then follow their recommendations. Since what is best for one woman could be not so good for another, they will be able to help you find the answers to these questions that will work best for you. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  38. Thanks so much for this! I have 3 kids and I?m currently pregnant with #4. I had diastasis recti pretty bad after my now 6 year old was born, but back then I did not really know what was going on with my stomach. I am very active, but I want to try and avoid getting a huge gap this time around.

  39. This was so helpful and informative to me. I am a 5 ft 1 small person with a tall husband and had a large baby. My belly button is no longer an innie and I thought it was just destined to look strange but when I saw the way yours looks it gave me hope. I?m still working on it but have seen lots of improvements before seeing this I didn?t think the gap would ever really close. So thank you!

  40. Thank you for posting this, Heidi! I had twins almost a year ago and still have a belly protrusion and about a 1.5/2 finger gap but it is so much better after doing the exercises you mentioned above. I really appreciate you! ?? Thanks, again!

    Tiffani Westbrook

    1. Hi Christy: With any sort of diastasis recti and/or hernia issue, it’s really best to follow your doctor’s recommendations as far as any treatment. Each woman’s issue can be different, which requires a different treatment. I hope that helps! 🙂

    2. Hi Ashleigh: I sincerely apologize! Some how your question got lost in all of our comments. With any diastasis recti and/or hernia issues, it’s best to work with your healthcare team on what is best for you treatment-wise. What works for one woman can be the totally wrong thing for another, and we’d hate to recommend something that wouldn’t work for you. 🙂

  41. I was wondering if it was possible to treat platysmal band diastasis in the neck with exercises too? I’m in my forties and really don’t want a neck lift. My neck band muscles have seperated with aging. Some people never get this. Are there any core exercises for neck?

    1. Hi Kristy: Thank you for your comment! 🙂 I’d definitely discuss this with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations. They are the best ones to help you since they can work with you personally and since what would be correct for one person might not be the best course of treatment for another. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  42. I am a mother of four children, my first baby was completely natural but my second child and my twins where C-section and I’m not sure what that diastasis recti is or exactly what it may look like but if there would be some way for me to contact you so I could send you a picture maybe you could tell me if it looks like it

    1. Hi Mandi: It would be best for you to consult with your healthcare team to see if you have Diastasis Recti and for any treatment program if you do. We wish you all the best! 🙂

    2. Mandi, look for a pelvic Physical Therapist in your area to complete a thorough exam and provide you with information and treatment specific to your body.

  43. Hi
    I have two kids.two years apart.the second was born two years ago.my stomach contracted after each birth but after eating too much fried stuff for a month my stomach kinda bloated out.the pooch of c-section is there as well and this all is lowering my self esteem.my diastasi recti gap is about one finger.should i do these exercises and how many times each?

    1. Hi Hafsa: With any DR issues, it’s best to discuss your case with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations for how to proceed. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  44. I have a pooch in the very lower ab area, right above where my down there hair starts. I had 2 c-sections and am in fabulous shape with very strong ab muscle but can NEVER get rid of it being popped out, like I am having a very very bad bloated month. Do you know what causes this and if it is “fixable?”I really appreciate any help you can give me.

    1. Hi Megan: I’d definitely discuss this with your healthcare team and see if they have any recommendations for you. It can be so frustrating! 🙁

  45. I think I am doing the “drawing in” wrong because my lower/mid back feel really tight and sore after. Should my back muscles be engaged or relaxed? How do you draw in and not use your back muscles? I want to fix my DR, but it seems everything I do makes my back super sore.

    Also, when you draw in, should all of your ab muscles be engaged or just the lower TAs?

    1. Hi Molly: These exercises can engage your lower back a bit since everything is connected. Concentrate on pulling that belly button back towards your spine, and that should help. And it might not hurt to discuss this with your healthcare team to make sure you’re doing what is right for you since the correct treatment for DR for each woman can be a bit different. We wish you all the best!

  46. Can the core exercises help me my kids are grown and I never been able to get my stomach back after all these years. So I did your finger test and my separation is 4 or larger maybe a five. Can these exercises help a 54 year old mom like me.?

    1. Hi Rachel: I’d definitely discuss this separation with your doctor first, and then follow his/her recommendations You could show our doctor this blog post and see if these would work for you. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  47. Not just informative, but PRACTICAL!!!
    Thank you, now I have something to do during strength class while everyone else is crunching!!

  48. Hi, watching Heidi talk about her journey has lifted my spirits. I’ve just had my first baby and I have a two finger seperation. I’ve had clearance from my doctor and want to start losing the baby weight and toning up. Is cardio (HIIT) and weights ok as long as I’m also working to repair the gap?

    1. Hi Rebecca: As long as you have your doctor’s okay, you should be good to go! Just be sure and follow his/her recommendations. And congratulations on your new little one! 🙂

  49. Hi thank you! After 2nd baby I had a 4 finger separation. She’s now 3yo and It’s now around 2 fingers and I’m starting to finally feel some results with exercises.

    When I do these and other similar ab/pelvic floor type exercises I get quite bad pain in the middle of my back. Is this normal? It’s pretty much immediate and quite strong. I’ve seen a physio and she feels it’s just weak core strength, however I wondered how common this was and if it improves as others have improved heir core strength. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Stacey: This is definitely something I’d talk with your doctor about and then follow his/her recommendations as each case of diastasis recti can be a bit different. Your doctor is the best one to help you figure out what’s going on since he/she knows your health history and can work with you personally now and in the future. And it’s so exciting that your separation is getting smaller!

  50. You have by far the BEST diastisis recti exercise video I’ve seen! Very informative! Thank you so much for this!

    1. I agree with you, MinnesotaMom! Kudos, Heidi Powell! Thank you for this! Your video is succinct and easy to follow! The blog post is comprehensive as well. Long but worth the read. Read through every word, and I agree with you most definitely on loving the babies despite the battle scars! They are all worth it! <3

  51. Hi Heidi,

    I was wondering if these exercises will also help with a weak pelvic floor? I carried my youngest extremely low and he descended into my pelvis at 7.5 months pregnant. Besides regular kegels do you have any recommendations. My doctor has cleared me for all exercise I just don’t know what exercises to use for that muscle.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Stephanie: These exercises are more for the abs, but kegels are excellent exercises for the pelvic floor!

  52. Hi what excersizes were you doing while pregnant that you would recxomens avoiding that might worsen the issue?

    1. Hi Bre: I’d chat with your doc about what exercises he/she recommends while you’re pregnant and to lessen the chances of DR. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  53. Thank you so much for the info!! I have a question about how you mentioned we typically distend our bellies during lifting. Could this be why I am always bloated after I workout? I feel like no matter what kind of workout I do, lifting or HIIT, I’m always bloated afterwards. I’m definitely going to look into the weight belt!

    1. Hi Ashlee: I don’t believe this could cause bloating. Bloating can be caused by the temporary water retention in your muscles after you lift/do workouts that really work those muscles. Hope this helps!

  54. Thanks for your information! I have a 4-fingers sized gap between my abs, could you please tell me can I do squat and deadlift. Thank you so so much!!!

    1. Hi Tranq: It would be best to discuss these exercises with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations since what is best for each person with DR can be different. We wish you the best!

  55. First I want to say I’m so happy I have found this website. I have been fit most of my life and was super fit before I started having babies. I believe I had DR following my first baby, possibly my second. I say this because I remember my OBGYN telling me I had this but didn’t make a big deal of it so I didn’t think it as a big deal. After my third child (which I stayed in good shape during this pregnancy) I finally figured out that this DR I have is causing my little belly pooch. I haven’t been able to get rid of it and it was driving my crazy since I run and lift and am in pretty good shape. So I am trying these exercises, which I know is going to help. But what I also wanted to say is you keep recommending that we check with out healthcare team, the problem is they don’t even tell you anything. My Doctor’s have know I have this but never gave any reccomendations on how to fix it. They told me I could have surgery if I wanted. I asked about doing ab exercises they said I could do whatever I wanted and nothing would hurt it. Obviously I now know better but wouldn’t have if I didn’t come across this article. So thanks!

    1. I completely agree with Nlna COSAMANO. I asked my doctor about it and she told me she would have to Google this! After her “research”, she said this condition is only cosmetic and no health issues are caused by it. I’ve talked to other doctors and they all dismiss my concerns as “purely cosmetic issues”

  56. Hi Heidi,
    I found your video and blog searching for DR solutions. I’m pretty sure I developed the DR doing crossfit toes to bar way to many times the wrong way. I have tried different exercises without success. I wanted to post that I have also developed SIBO and other intestinal issues as a result of the DR. The internal muscles shift and can put pressure on the colon. I was unaware that this could be related. I’m starting your exercises, and hopefully it closes the DR.

    Sincerely,
    Michael

  57. Great information! Generally how long does it take to begin to close the gap? And how will I know when it’s ok to return to other abdominal exercises without exacerbating the DR. I run, lift and do yoga but not seeing the progress I had hoped in my core tone and didn’t realize some exercises could make it more pronounced. I’ve been diagnosed with mild DR (2 finger width) after four babies (my last baby three years ago was a 10lb!).

    1. Hi Jennifer: I’d definitely chat with your healthcare team about your DR since the recovery time can be different for each woman. We wish you all the best for a quick recovery! 🙂

  58. Is it possible to fix diastasis recti 12 years after my last pregnancy? I have been doing an exercise class twice a week that includes body weight, kettle bell and dumbe exercises. My back muscles are very hypertrophied to make up for what I have just realized is core weakness and DR. Is it too late to heal this bulging?

    1. Hi Linda: It would be best to discuss this with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations. They are the best ones to help you with this since they know the extent of your DR and can work with you personally. We wish you the best! 🙂

  59. Hey Heidi (& Chris) – what about obese men who develop this? I’m sure you’ve worked with many in your show that may have had this simply from such high amounts of fat on the inside? Same excercises or most likely need surgery since it wasn’t over a 9 month period- most likely much longer.

    1. Hi John: We recommend that anyone who feels they might have Diastasis Recti talk to their healthcare team and then follow their recommendations for how to work towards healing. We wish you all the best!

  60. Hi Heidi, what exercises can I do at the gym? What equipment can I use and which one is safe for me? I would like to get my tone abs back and reduce DR

    1. Hi Martyna: Before you begin any exercise program, I’d talk with your healthcare team about what exercises are appropriate for you and then follow their recommendations. Since each case of DR and the correct treatment can be different, we’d hate to recommend anything that might make this worse for you.

  61. I had my first child 1.5 years ago. I just learned that I have diastasis recti and I’m at a lost on how to exercise. I am doing the exercises on this blog to help bring together my separated abs, but what other exercises can I do to help lose the baby weight, specifically the belly weight. Please help!

    1. Hi Marina: Be sure and discuss your diastasis recti with your doctor before doing any exercises to try and repair it since what works for one woman might not work for another. As far as losing weight, here’s a link to Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program: https://heidipowell.net/9060. And be sure and follow all the links within the post too ? they lead to even more helpful transformation tools!And you might also want to check into Chris and Heidi?s new Transform app that?s about ready to launch ? it will outline everything you need to do for you every day! You can learn more about it here: http://thetransformapp.com. You can do this!

  62. Hey Heidi, Thanks for the article. But I just wanted to give a shout out to you and all the ladies that are watching your DR check video. Remember to always lie down and get up from lying down by first lying onto your side, then lowering yourself down with your arm, and rolling onto your back. And when getting up, rolling on to your side, then pushing yourself up with your arm. If you just lie straight back or jackknife up like in the video, this makes the diastasis recti separation worse.

  63. This post (and video) is SO helpful! Thank you! I just discovered I had DR and was super bummed. I’m looking forward to doing these exercises and closing the gap!

  64. My twins are 18 mos and I just saw a general practitioner about this this week who told me only that many people have problems the mesh surgery. I left the appt feeling so defeated and like I would just have a 6 month pregnant pooch for eternity…and she advised me not to lift over 25lbs, like ever. Umm, my twins are 25 lbs and our older child is 40lbs. I’m so glad I found this website! By the way, I fit every one of your criteria on the list. I was 36 when I had my first baby….who was 9lbs 2 Oz, and just 19 months after he was born, I had twins at 7lbs8oz and 5lbs5oz.!

  65. Thank you for this article!! I have had 5 babies and am a group fitness and dance instructor and I was really feeling quite shameful that I was leading women in exercises and yet I have this issue… So I am happy to see you have struggled with the same problem of separation even though you’re an amazing powerhouse athlete. I will get on these exercises today and get back to feeling more confident.

    1. Hey Ana, I didn’t start my recovery until almost a year after having my baby and I officially closed my gap within the last couple weeks. I had made my DR worse over that time, but there is always a possibility for improvement! If you feel like you need more in depth exercises, check out Core Exercise Solutions by Sarah Duvall. She is a physical therapist who has developed an online program and address DR, pelvic floor dysfunction, and several other things related to pregnancy.

  66. This is very helpful! I am preparing to deliver my 4th child via c-section and before this pregnancy my DR was so bad I could fit over 4 fingers in my middle. Given the severity, what is a reasonable amount if time to try at home remedies before exploring more drastic measures? I realize every woman is different. I’m fit and on the lower end of a healthy weight range, but by doing these exercises daily can I expect to see results within a few months?

    1. Hi Michelle: Congratulations on baby #4! It’s hard to say what you should do. I’d definitely talk with your healthcare team and get their opinion. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  67. I am so happy you did this blog thank you so much. I’ve always known I had this gap but didn’t know what it was. I had 3 c-sections all big baby’s. My stomach is horrible I hate it I have loose skin bad and am so self conscious about it. My Dr told me I will never be able to fix without surgery I don’t have money so I gave up on trying to fix it I thought no sense exercising cause it’s screwed forever. But I been so down on myself I said screw it I’m going to try I been doing ab wheel every day. I wanted to ask you was your skin loose from this conditioner too? Do you think I will be able to fix it at all by doing these workouts and with ab wheel? Even if I can make it look better and not so wrinkly I will be happy I can’t even really see my belly button. Please let me know or anyone with same issue or simular? Thank you so much

    1. Hi Crystal: It’s really hard to say how your skin will react since each woman’s skin can be affected differently. However, the stronger those core muscles are, the more they can help the appearance of your core. And a strong core is important in so many ways, so that’s an awesome fringe benefit! 🙂

    1. Hi Leslie: You can do these exercises every day, and the number of reps for each exercise is listed in the post. And always follow your doctor’s recommendations if you have diastasis recti.

  68. I’ve had 4 babies, my biggest was 10 lbs. I’ve got this condition so badly that I wear a wrap when I’m going to be doing a lot of lifting or housework. Thank you so much for this hope.

    1. you may want to look into doing some more extensive exercises with a physical therapist. Check out Sarah Duvall with Core Exercise Solutions! She does everything online, but offers support through a Facebook page. She wants to help women be stong moms without the worry of pain or not being able to play with your kids. The program has been wonderful and I have successfully closed my gap 🙂 good luck, it can be done!!!

  69. I just had my third baby, second big one, and he did such a number on my body, this is the first pregnancy I’ve had this issue, but my boy was 9.3 and I had to have a c section, so all of the odds were against me. Thank you for this article, I’m looking forward to working on my gap and getting my body healed and back in shape!

  70. I know we’re supposed to comment on another blog on your website to enter your stroller giveaway but truth-be-told: I’ve got this post bookmarked for after baby arrives. Always prepared!
    Xo

  71. Thank you for sharing this Heidi ! I just love you and your family and your openess to help other you and Chris have inspired me in many ways to never give up and go for my goals?

  72. Thank you so much for this post. There’s not enough information provided to women about this topic postpartum. Where would we be without you?!

  73. I love this, such good information. I was always told by the doctor to “lose weight…workout more” no one ever told me there’s a right and wrong way to workout with this. No one even ever checked me for this!! I’m fairly certain I’ve had it since my 1st pregnancy (just had 4th). Thank you for the help. Know better, do better!!

  74. Thank you for covering this. This post is one of the reasons I began following you! Thank you for inspiring us mammas that we can get our abs back! I got this with my 1st daughter and it definitely did not get better with my second.lol. Here’s to putting me back together again:-).

  75. I chose this blogpost to read because getting pregnant at 18 and having a baby at 19, I’m really scared about not having my body back. I worked extremely hard–lifting, running, and eating to always make sure my body was the best it could be. My baby wasn’t planned and when I found out I was pregnant I felt like my body was just downhill from there and that I didn’t get the amount of time I wanted to make my body the way I wanted it. I’ve since grown to love my baby in my belly and I continue to workout everyday. This is another reason I’d love the jogging stroller. I’m willing to do whatever possible to still reach my goals for myself, for my new husband, and for my baby to be.

  76. Thank you so much for writing this and sharing your story! I’m a mom of 6 and I also have a DR and umbilical hernia. I’ve been working hard to help it heal since our youngest was born last year. It can be such a discouraging journey.

  77. This blog post is bookmarked. This has been insanely helpful and encouraging to me as I struggle with my DR and hernia on top of that. I’m not ready to have hernia surgery yet just because we haven’t decided if we are going to have another child or not… ? So in the mean time, I’ve been implementing these techniques and routines and hope to see similar progress as you!

  78. Such good info for such a real problem. Love how you said though to “have those babies and love those babies,and appreciate the consequences of having those little miracles”. Totally worth it, but nice to know there are ways to fight back to get your body right afterwards!

  79. You are such an inspiration! I have a 4 finger gap and it’s so amazing to see someone confront DR and talk about it openly. Thank you!!

  80. Love this blog- after 2 csections it has been so hard getting me stomach back and the separation is even harder. Thank you for being such an inspiration!!

  81. This was so helpful! Me and my sister were just talking about this. I thankfully did not have this, but my sister had multiple pregnancies and has this. She was telling me the other day her Dr. said nothing can be done to fix it. I quickly told her that it can be fixed with the right workout, I remembered seeing this post. As soon as I got home I sent her he video and blog post.

  82. I just found out I had D.R. 3 months ago. My Physical Therapist actually told me. My 2nd child is 3.5 years old! Oh how I wish I had known about D.R. years ago! Anyway, I injured my tailbone so the exercises the Physical Therapist gave me for that in turn has helped the D.R. I was about 3-4 finger width D.R. I did a recheck and below my belly button has closed completely. However, above my belly button is still sitting at about a 2. Is it normal for the bottom to close but not the top?

    1. Hi A.K.: It’s so exciting that your DR is getting better! I’d talk with your PT or doc about your question. We wish you the best!

  83. Hi, I am 13 months postpartum with about a 2 finger separation and pelvic floor issues with a prolapsed bladder. I’ve been to doctors and physical therapists and have seen my stomach get flatter, but no where near where I was or what you look like. I was a Cross Fit coach and a triathlete before my pregnancy. I’ve been trying to figure out how to go back into running and aggressive Cross Fit workouts, but feel extremely unstable. You mentioned feeling vulnerable with your organs exposed, but I feel like my guts are going to pour out the front and bottom of me every time I try to take a few steps running. Have you ever felt like that, or do you think my combo of DR+pelvic floor issues is to blame.

    1. Hi Erin: It’s hard to say why this is happening to you. If you haven’t already done so, I’d chat with your doc about this issue specifically. We wish you the best and hope you can find the answers you’re seeking so you can get back to do doing the workouts you love to do. 🙂

  84. Mine is one finger width (based on test when you are on the floor and hand near your belly button). Should I do any ab workout or be safe and do the ones that you recommend in this article?

    1. Hi Amanda: It would be best to discuss any exercises with your healthcare team first and then follow their recommendations just in case. 🙂

  85. I understand Heidi recently had surgery to correct an umbilical hernia. I also have this problem and and would like to have it corrected. Like Heidi and Chris, I also live in the valley. I’m hoping you could share who her surgeon was for this procedure, so I could get a professional opinion. Thank you.

  86. I have a 4 year old and watching this really answered my tummy problems. I have this and no doctor tells you anything about this. I have been working out, is it too late for me to fix my DR?

  87. Just found out I have a mild D.R. (1 finger) after my second c-section. I’ve been doing these exercises and a few more to try to repair it. I’m getting discouraged though b/c I’m not doing any other ab work besides these exercises and I feel as if my abs aren’t developing. Do you do additional abdominal work to keep your core so fit, or is this all you focus on? I guess I’m just scared to make the D.R. worse :/

    1. Hi Jennifer: I don’t believe Heidi does any other ab work. You do engage your abs/core in many other exercises, so you should be good to go! And the most important thing is to repair that DR for now.

  88. Hi Heidi, I just became a new mom 10 months ago and I noticed only 6 months after giving birth that I wasn’t really losing that mommy pooch. I was confused and did a little research on the matter. Turns out I have a 2-finger DR. I was shocked because it’s been my first pregnancy and my baby was born with an average weight and height. So I desperately ran to a Physiotherapist for help since I wasn’t really excited about getting surgery as well. My DR visibly improved after a 2-month therapy program but I’m afraid a sedentary job (I’m an EN<ES Translator) and a busy lifestyle is overturning all my hard work. I hope these exercises will help my condition. Also, I was wondering…I was told not to do any oblique twisting whatsoever for it could worsen the condition, is this true?

    Thanks for the vid! Can't wait to try this exercises!

    1. Hi Carolina: Since what works for each woman with DR can be different, it’s best to discuss any exercises with your healthcare team first. 🙂

  89. Loved this post! I just wanted to give a shout out that everything you’re describing is PILATES yay! I’m a Pilates studio owner and have worked closely with pre and post natal clients as well as having twins and a singleton myself! It’s always so refreshing when mainstream fitness recognizes the importance of the Pilates foundational principles and begins incorporating them into their routines! Thank you for getting this vital information out there!!

  90. Thank you for the video. I’ve been doing a lot of research the past few weeks after I discovered “Egore” protruding out of my belly one day. I have never had a child but at my top weight I was 312 lbs. I am now 230 and seriously beginning the building muscle journey of my weight loss. But when the small football size bulge showed up emerging out of my gap, when doing leg lifts, research began. My doctor has diagnosed me with a two finger space though it seems more with such a large protrusion during any ab work. So obviously crunches are out. I am eager to begin the exercises in your video as they look to be safe yet functional to strengthen my very weak transverse muscle. My posture has been out of alignment for many years so I know it won’t be overnight, but I’m tired of the extra bulge above my belly button that hangs over my pants even more than the extra skin hanging on the lower stomach. So to all your readers, DR is not just for the moms. Obesity can do the same thing to the body as a baby. I’m working on fixing 25 years of body abuse and I know this will get me on the right path. Thank you. Mary

  91. Hello!

    This is a great article by the way! There are so many things out there, it’s hard to sift through everything, and determine which exercises are best, which are worth paying for, etc. In addition, there are some doctors (mine included) who don’t know much about the condition, which makes it all the more frustrating. My goal throughout this journey is to fix my issue without surgery. I first need to determine if diastasis recti is in fact what I have. I’ve been having trouble losing my “mommy tummy” – in the form of upper belly fat. My youngest turns 2 this month. I’ve lost 40 lbs, and I’m at a healthy BMI/weight, but still look pregnant. I’ve done the self test, and, to me, my gap doesn’t seem to be that wide, but more deep (my fingers fit past my knuckles). I also have the vertical “mound” when I activate my abs, is this actually my organs? I guess I’m wondering if there are any exercises that would benefit closing a deep gap, as opposed to a wide one? Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Hi Christy: It would be best to discuss this with your healthcare team since every case of diastasis recti – and the correct treatment – can be different for each woman. 🙂

  92. Hi! Thanks so much for your post. There are a lot of doctors that don’t even know how to take care of this problem. I’ve been told that I can do whatever exercise. Which is very wrong! I have done lots of research on this topic. Great to have someone like you share your experience. I’m curious through, with your exercises how often do you do each one? Every day? How many times a week? Thanks for all you do and being a great role model. Because of wrong advice from specialists I. Afraid I might need surgery from making it worse.

  93. Aloha Heidi, thank you for your encouragement and for your exercise tips. I will try to do them. I have more than a 5 finger seperation. Had no idea it was a condition. Just knew I had a magic trick of making a hand disappear through my belly button after my 2nd child and got worse after my 3rd but failed pregnancy. It gives me hope That maybe I can have my body back. Every other area of by body seems to be tightening except my stomach region where I still look pregnant and I’m so not. I do crossfit as well but I’m not a crazy cross fitter. I’m all about the modifications sincere. I’ll be sure to try to substitute all the DR ab work outs for any other when I go to classes. Thank you again. I hope to send you good reports.

    Mahalo Nui. Aloha,
    Bianca ?

  94. Well, I’ve been doing the vacuum and pull in for quite some time but am looking forward to trying your exercises. After 8 births (9 pregnancies) I have a larger than 8 finger separation. I’m severely overweight but have lost almost 40 pounds (54 more to go) and my youngest is 15. I am not sure if exercise alone can deal with such a severe DR, but I’m willing to try.

  95. Hi, My OB just tells me not to lie flat on my back after the 3rd trimester and that, “since I’ve always been so active, it’s fine to do any pre-pregnancy work-outs during the pregnancy.” So my question, is can I do the 5 exercises during the pregnancy? My prenatal Chiropractor said to refrain from the same exercises you have mentioned, but didn’t impart any new exercise routines.

    1. Hi Faye: It’s always best to follow the recommendations of your healthcare team since they know your health history. And congratulations!

  96. Heidi, this is such a great and encouraging post! After having four kids (the last pregnancy was a full-term set of twins), I had DR so bad, and I was so frustrated.

    Based on recommendations from a sweet trainer and friend, I did exercises very similar to the ones you suggest here five times a week. After a year and a half (really!), the gap has noticeably gotten smaller and smaller. So stick with it, ladies! You can do it!

  97. A few new DR exercises, thanks!!!!
    I have a 3 finger gap and my 3rd “baby” is 6, and I too don’t want to get surgery and am starting to lift a little heavier now and don’t want a hernia due to my gap. Any other ab exercises you recommend to have a variety?
    Also, in trying to avoid ab exercises that are counterproductive…besides sit ups and crunches…what others should I avoid?
    Example: I like to do side bends, in and outs, pulse ups, mason twists, mountain climbers, planks, bicycles, lay on my back and hold my feet 6 inches off the ground, hanging abs…..any of these make it worse?

    1. For any additional exercises, it would be best to chat with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations since they know the extent of your DR and can work with you personally. What works for one woman could actually make the condition worse for another, and we certainly don’t want that! We wish you the best!

  98. This is SO. DANG. HELPFUL!! Thank you, Heidi for taking the time to create this post. I’m sure it took so much work but I really, truly needed this. I birthed 5 kids in 7 years, my youngest 3 were born in just 3 years and my core and pelvic floor are shot. The Internet has so much conflicting information regarding this. And it was easy to learn what NOT to do but it felt impossible to figure out how to correct my DR. So I had given up. Thanks a million times!! I’m so excited and starting on these immediately.

  99. I agree – my obgyn never checked me for DR and didn’t mention it during my post-natal appointment. I actually learned about it from my sister in law and did my own research from there. I was lucky in that I was informed from the get go and made sure to do exercises that closed the gap before I moved onto traditional core exercises.

  100. So, I just recently learned from a physical therapist that I have a moderate case of DR. My doctors never mentioned it and my last baby is now 10 years old! I have been doing boot camp and HIIT workouts for the last 4 years and now have a significant lower back injury as well as degenerative disk disease. The pT said it was exacerbated by having the diastasis recti.
    My question is after all this time, would it be possible to fix the DR or not? Iamin constant pain now with my back I am unable to do hardly any exercise. I’mso frustrated!

    1. Hi Allie: So sorry to hear about what’s going on! Since we’re not medical professionals, I’d chat with your physical therapist and he/she would be a great resource to help you know what you need to do to help your DR get better and what any possible outcomes may be, and he/she would be a great resource for knowing what could help your back issue also. We wish you the best!

    2. I also found out from my P.T. about having D.R. My OBGYN never mentioned it and my baby is 3.5. I also have a lower back injury. If your P.T. can give you pelvic exercises it will help. In 3 months I’ve closed the bottom gap. Now I’m working on the top.

  101. I’ve seen so many posts regarding exercises you should do, but nothing is ever mentioned on time frame. How long should you do these exercises, or how will I know when I can go back to regular ab exercises?

    1. Hi Tasha: It would be best to consult with your healthcare team about these questions since each case of DR can be very different.

    1. Hi Christi: I believe Heidi’s does these daily. Or you could do them every other day too.

  102. Hi Heidi,
    I have a 3 finger gap on the upper portion of my abs and a 2 finger gap at my belly button. I love the demonstrations and wanted to know if I should do additional moves for the upper portion of my abs or will these exercises help to close it as well?
    Thank you!
    Whitney

    1. Hi Whitney: These should work for all your abs, but you might want to talk with your healthcare team about what would be best for you since it can be different for each woman and then go from there.

  103. This is great information! Are there any recommendations for pre-partum things we can do to avoid a potential DR issue, or does it help to do the same exercises Heidi already suggested?

    1. Hi Monica: These exercises can work for pre-pregnancy too! For during pregnancy, I’d talk with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations.

  104. Thank you Heidi, I have 4 children and did not notice my abs separating until after #4, I have always had flat abs after each pregnancy but #4 did me in , my abs are toned but not flat they kind of protrude a little so I look like I am always bloated and I have definite separation. I am excited to try these exercises and see if it helps.
    My question is , how do you continue to tone your abs without making the DR worse? You mentioned there are definitely some exercises that make it worse.
    Thank you for everything you do !!!! You are an inspiration

    1. Hi Karen: The exercises Heidi shared in this post can be done without making your DR worse, but I’d run them by your healthcare team first and then follow any recommendations they may have. We wish you the best!

    2. I’ve heard sit-ups and front planks can also worsen DR. (Side planks are ok.) basically anything that increases abdominal cavity pressure can worsen it, unless the muscles have been strengthened. That’s why Heidi mentions the weigh belt and exhaling when you lift, because even that action can increase abdominal cavity pressure. I practice exhaling and engaging the inner core muscles (transverse abdominus) when lifting my 2year old. One last note, most doctors don’t have a clue about this. Check with a physical therapist…there are even ones specially trained for these issues.

  105. Thank you so much for this! before baby my stomach was always toned and flat. It’s amazing how flat my stomach gets just engaging those muscles now, once released, (its back to the baby bloat) as I call it 🙂 I am going to do these exercises every day and I hope to get the results I have been looking for. It’s also good to know that other ab exercises can make this condition worse, I didn’t know that. You always strive to help people and make them better. I love that about you, you truly have such a big heart and I hope you know that so many of us appreciate what you do!

  106. What ab exercises should you do since we shouldn’t do the regulars….sit-ups, V-ups, etc in addition to the ones listed above?

    1. Hi Hope: These are the only ab exercises Heidi does anymore, and remember, you engage/work your core during other exercises too.

  107. Mutusystem.com is a site I’d recommend anyone checking out regarding this topic of postpartum fitness and repairing a diastasis recti. It’s something I followed for over a year ( bought the fitness dvd) and it has made a difference to me. The founder is well educated and researched in this area too. There is a whole community that can be joined on facebook if you sign up.

  108. Hi Heidi!

    Thank you so much for this post! The one thing I was really hoping you would cover would be what exercises to avoid during pregnancy. I was lifting before pregnancy, and I have continued on (32 wks, second child) during this pregnancy. I fear that some of my lifting may be worsening my diastasis recti. My midwife said I would need to see a physical therapist to correct my condition once this baby is born. I don’t want to give up lifting, but I also don’t want to make it worse. I would say I do the typical weight lifting/circuits – a variety of squats, lunges, leg extensions, deadlifts, bench pressing, rows, lat pulldowns, shoulder presses, back extensions, etc.

    I have avoided ab exercises since being told to not do any, but I know my abs are engaged in some of the lifting I do.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Nancy: It’s always best to discuss any pregnancy exercise programs with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations since what is okay for one woman might not be okay for another. And congratulations on your pregnancy!

  109. jThanks so much for this! I had my 6th blessing 10 months ago and the list of reasons you mentioned of why we get diastasis recti I fell into all 5 categories Lol! But I will definitely be implementing all these into my work out regimen! God Bless!

  110. Thank you for this. A great way to help women.

    I had a c section 15 weeks and re starting fitness. Can i do these excercises without doig any damage?

    Thanks lisa xxx

    1. Hi Lisa: You’ll definitely want to check with your healthcare team first and then follow their recommendations. And congratulations on your new little one!

  111. Hi Heidi! Thank you for posting. I’m wondering at what point can you say your DR is “healed”? Is it possible or is it the goal that your abs reconnect with zero separation? Thanks!

  112. Its great that Heidi is giving #Diastasisrecti the attention it requires as there is so much incorrect information on the web that many women are very frustrated. As someone who has specialized in this field for several years, all attention is a GOOD THING 🙂

    Its also perfect that Heidi has also acknowledged that some of her previous exercise have perhaps made things worse. Many women continue doing exercises such as crunches as they believe it will address the ‘Mummy Tummy’.

    Unfortunately there are many comments now in the fb post with incorrect information for mums, which can be quite scary as these women are NOT professionals yet convey their message as if they are.

    Something that is missing in the post is the importance of testing the depth of the connective tissue and overall strength and function of the core muscles so its not just about the width.
    A Diastasis does also not have to close for optimal function, so Mums don’t worry if yours does not close completely.

  113. Thank you for bringing attention to diastasis and getting the message of proper training and healing out there. If you ever do a follow up, I think it would be great to mention that seeking a consultation from a women’s health physical therapist can be be so helpful in managing this condition. Furthermore, there are fitness professionals, such as myself, who have actually invested a lot of time and money on continuing education specifically to work with pregnant moms to manage and prevent DR, and postpartum moms to help heal and return back to a level of fitness prior to pregnancy. My programs emphasize heavy weight lifting throughout pregnancy, and then a recovery program afterwards. And there is a great group of women similar to me who do the same. So many fitpros don’t know what to do with women suffering from DR. So again, thank you for getting this into the mainstream and educating women on how to heal! Hopefully more women will follow your advice on proper and progressive return to exercise to allow for healing and returning to true awesomeness!!

    1. Sorry if someone has already asked this. I am having a hard time distinguishing between ?drawing in? and ?sucking in?. I don?t feel like I can pull in very far either way. Does that mean my muscles are just very weak or am I doing something wrong? I feel like I have always had a doming when I did sit-ups, push-ups, planks etc. and my lower abs have always seemed weak. Any advice or specific workouts recommended outside of the Diastasis Recti exercises in this post?

  114. Heidi~ Thank you for posting this! I am 9 weeks postpartum with twins (my second and third kids) and have MAJOR ab separation happening!! We’re talking almost 4 fingers width! I consider myself someone who was previously very active and in shape but was completely derailed when I was put on modified bed rest for most of my third trimester and am struggling to get my body back. I am also exclusively breastfeeding my twins which has me consuming a TON of extra calories a day to keep my milk supply up. Is there a healthy way to get the calories I need, while working out so I feel like myself again, without feeling gross? Carbs and sugar are great to a point and are effective but I am left feeling bloated and lethargic. Ultimately, feeding my babies is my first priority and if my body has to wait than that’s what will happen but I would love it if both could happen simultaneously. Any advice would be appreciated!!

    1. Hi Jessie: Here’s a post that outlines Heidi’s breastfeeding nutrition program, and I hope it can help (and be sure and run any nutrition programs by your doc first): https://heidipowell.net/2275. And congratulations!!!

  115. My son was born 2 years ago and I have had diastasis recti and ventral & umbilical hernia only getting worse his his birth. He was colicky baby and no time to exercise ?. Needless to say i just had my second hernia repair surgery, first one 1 month ago (but dr missed it) and second one TODAY. OMGOSH painful! I am so very eager to get back to working out (my mental and physical release). Another 4 weeks of NO lifting more than 10 lbs. boo!!!

  116. HI Heidi, my problem is that once I stop flexing my core, my abs open up completely and I can stick my whole hand in there 🙁

  117. I’m curious how soon after having a baby sound you start doing these? I’m pregnant with my 3rd now And I know I have it and j want to be proactive and help it quickly after this baby. Thanks

    1. Hi Kelly: I’d check with your doctor first and then follow his/her recommendations. We wish you the best with baby #3!

  118. My sister has this and has been considering getting the surgery, but these are exercises that I don’t believe she’s done before so I am excited to share with her!

  119. Thank you so much for posting this!! I learned of DR after my 3rd:/ I obsessed over it. There was so many different exercises, i got discouraged. Not knowing which ones work. This was very well explained and motivating. Thank you for all your time in putting this together. I know it will make a difference in my life.

  120. what a great post! Thank you so very much for putting this together. There is very little on line regarding healing this condition through exercise that I have found! Thanks again and God bless!

  121. Hi heidi,

    My name is Nermin & i live in holland. 37 years old, divorced without 1 boy, 7 years old.
    I ADORE you and your huisband. Your disipline andere strength.
    Every day I promise myself to live healthy eat healthy but yet i always fail. I work 40 hours a week. Fulltime mom and reward myself with food. I wanna break this circle just dont know how. 1.64 m over 72.8 kg my belly is so fat. Is there a way to get inspired? Thank you for reading.

    Kind regards

    Nermin

    1. Hi Nermin: Thank you for your comment! Here’s a link that will tell you all about Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program, and be sure and follow all the links within the post too (especially the part about promises): https://heidipowell.net/9060. You can do this!

  122. So my question is, how do you get defined abs while avoiding isolated ab workouts in order not to worsen your DR. I’ve been trying to close mine and it’s getting smaller but I’m losing all my ab definition I previously had

    1. Hi! I delivered twins via csection and definitely have DR. How soon can I start doing these exercises?

    2. Hi Jenel: Congratulations! We’d recommend you talk with your healthcare provider as to when you can start these exercises. We wish you and your new babies all the best!

  123. Thank you so much Heidi. This is unfortunately never talked about in the postpartum check ups. This needs to be part of educating women when they come in for the prenatal and postnatal visits! So many women present with incontinence or pain after birth and are told “that’s the way it is after having a baby” but it’s not! It can be fixed and healed. So thank YOU! – Krista mom of 4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.