Full disclosure, I still have a pooch. (That’s a stock image of a woman who I’m guessing never had any children.) After delivering a 10 pounder, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my stomach may never be the same (sigh). Thankfully, boxy shirts and one-piece suits are in style. (I’m loving the ruching and slenderizing dark charcoal color of my J. Crew mom-suit.) But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my pre-baby abs.
Diastasis recti is the technical term for separated ab muscles. Your abdominal muscles are on top of your uterus, so the more it expands, the further apart left abs get from the right. With the gap in the muscles, your stomach and uterus can pop out, leaving you with some… spillage.
To find out if you have diastasis recti, lie flat on your back, legs straight out in front of you. Raise your head just an inch off the ground. Feel your abs. If you can fit at least 2 fingers between them, you’ve got it.
I’m no exercise expert, but from what I’ve read, you can actually make it worse by doing the wrong exercises like the basic crunch, updog or triangle pose. (Yikes!)
These exercises help correct it. Start with a few reps a day and work up to 10 each. I noticed a difference after just a few days. Find a time to do it everyday, like right before you shower or before you go to bed.
The basic position is to lie flat on your back, tilt your pelvis up a bit so your back is flat on the floor. Bend your knees and place feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your abs and gently push them together as you do each exercise (this is mostly for biofeedback).
- Heal slides. Slowly slide your right foot out in front of you and pull it back in. Repeat on the left.
- Knee lifts. Raise your right leg until your knee is just above your hips, keeping leg bent at 90 degrees.
- Table top. Pull both feet up to a tabletop position (shins parallel to the floor). With a bent knee, lower you right foot down to tap your toe on the ground, exhale on the way down, inhale as you raise it.
- Scissor legs. Start from tabletop. Extend right foot out at a 45 degree angle as you exhale, inhale as you pull in.
- Body crosses. Sit up with feet on floor, knees bent at 90 degrees. Recline 45 degrees and rise up, twisting right shoulder to left knee.
- Tilt your pelvis in, slowly raise your hips up and hold 5 seconds. Release.
- Wall sit. Squat down with your back flat against the wall, knees bent at 90 degrees. Sit up straight with your head pressed against the wall and pull your abs in. Hold for 30 seconds to start, working up to 2 minutes over time. Bonus: this wall sit gives you a killer butt and quads.
- Girdle breaths. Inhale and let your ribs expand out to the side, exhale and pull everything in tight through the midline like you’re wearing a girdle. You can do this while driving in your car, sitting at your desk, or watching TV.