Wondering which exercises are safe for diastasis recti and which are not? Here is the world’s most simple answer. Your body will tell you. The key…you need to watch yourself in a mirror to garner feedback.
I know, I know. You don’t want to look like one of vein gym rats staring at your abs the whole workout…BUT…it really is the best feedback as to whether an exercise is safe and beneficial for you, or if it is causing more damage. Another great strategy is to place a hand on your core (if that is available in the movement) to feel for doming.
As you perform an exercise, watch your abdomen closely in the mirror. If you see doming (an obvious protrusion that looks like a ridge or football popping out of the midline), you are not ready. You can be ready again one day if your progress safely…but you aren’t there yet. That’s okay.
I recently taught a workshop with my pelvic floor physical therapist and many of the pregnant women had the goal of continuing to do pull-ups throughout their pregnancy. We were like dream crushers up in that place. We had them hop on the bar, and watch and feel how they lost core integrity–one after the other. Their abdomens clearly domed. You don’t get any trophies for continuing to do exercises or workouts that compromise your body. The only thing you get is a pregnant-looking postpartum belly, lost strength, pelvic floor issues, and a bruised ego.
I know it is disheartening to lose some of those movements, but it will be worth it to take a step back temporarily to benefit you bodylong term. You’ll get there. You’ll be stronger than ever if you learn to move your body with integrity.
In general, if you have diastasis recti, you want to avoid sit-ups, crunches, v-ups, toes-to-bar, knees to elbows, GHD sit-ups and movements that require flexion of the spine–or jack-knifing of the body. You won’t miss those movements anyway. Many more effective core exercises out there! But again, lists aren’t the end all, be all…your body REALLY is the best indicator.