Are you wondering how to check yourself for diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti is the thinning of the tissue that runs between the “six-pack muscles”.
Perhaps you have noticed a ridge or coning from your belly when you sit up. Maybe you’ve lost all the “baby weight”, but still feel like you have a lower belly pooch.
It could be that something just feels “off”, and your core feels weak.
Diastasis recti is a very common condition. More than 2 out of 3 postpartum moms have some degree of diastasis recti a year postpartum.
Knowing if you have this condition is important. It can change the way you approach fitness, specifically core exercises.
How To Check For Diastasis Recti:
- Roll to your side and then onto your back.
- Knees bent at a 90-degree angle, feet flat on the floor.
- Relax your tummy completely.
- Place fingers at the belly button.
- Gently lift your head up about an inch or two.
- Firmly press your fingers down and move them side to side to feel for the abdominal wall.
- Repeat the above step two inches below the belly button, and two inches above.
Checking The Depth Of The Gap Is Just As Important
Abdominal separation width is not the only measurement needed to assess diastasis recti.
But the depth of your diastasis recti is just as important in indicating the extent of the problem. In fact, research has shown that the depth of the diastasis recti separation may be an even MORE important indicator in the severity of the condition.
How Do You Check the Depth of the Gap?
Repeat all the steps above, only now you will press down toward your spine.
If you feel a gap that is shallow and taut, it means there is good integrity of the linea alba. Think about how it feels to press on the tip of your nose.
If your fingers sink like the soft part of your cheek, this is a sign of more compromised connective tissue. It may mean that the healing process takes a bit longer.
Avoid This Common Mistake
The most common mistake made when performing a self-check is lifting your head too far off the ground.
The act of “crunching up” brings your abdominal muscles closer together. This gives a false reading that the gap isn’t as wide or deep as it is in actuality.
Remember, lift your head ever so slightly and keep your belly completely relaxed.
Common Questions About The Diastasis Recti Test
When Should I Check For Diastasis Recti Postpartum?
It’s recommended to wait at least six weeks postpartum to check for diastasis recti. Nearly all pregnant women have some abdominal muscle separation at full term. During the first six weeks, a lot of spontaneous healing occurs. Checking yourself too early is pointless.
Will My Doctor Check For Me?
Most physicians don’t check for diastasis recti. Even at the infamous six-week checkup. You can ask your provider to perform a diastasis recti check on you.
Physical therapy is also beneficial after the first six weeks. So, it’s important to find a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Can I Check While Pregnant?
While you can check for diastasis recti during pregnancy, it isn’t necessary. Keep in mind that diastasis recti occurs in all pregnancies that go full term. It is a normal and natural part of pregnancy.
How cool is it that your body knows to create this separation to make room for the growing baby?
Additionally, you can be proactive with exercises during pregnancy.
What If I’m Overweight Or I Have Loose Skin?
It can be hard to do a self-check for diastasis recti if you have extra fat or skin, as many of us do postpartum.
Digging deep is the key!
Follow the above steps and know that you many need to press down further to feel the abdominal walls.
If you still can’t feel your abdominal wall:
- Place your palm on your tummy
- Lift your head and shoulders up
Does your entire tummy push out against your hand? This isn’t a direct sign of diastasis recti. But, it can be a sign that you aren’t managing intra-abdominal pressure.
If this is the case, many of the exercises to heal diastasis recti will also be beneficial.
Can I Check After Having a C-Section?
It even more important to check yourself for diastasis recti if you had a c-section. One study found that c-sections may be one of the most important factors in developing muscle deficits and asymmetries.
Wait until your incision has fully healed and you are more than six weeks postpartum. Then, you can start checking yourself for diastasis recti.
It is also important to begin doing c-section scar massage.
How Often Should I Perform A Diastasis Recti Check?
Don’t obsess over the gap. You can and will heal your diastasis recti, but it does take time. Taking a measurement every two weeks is helpful at tracking progress. It is also helpful to take pictures from the front and the side monthly.
Progress can be slow, and you often don’t see the small shifts happening in your body. Photo comparisons can keep you motivated. Check out some before and after photos of women who have healed their diastasis recti.
Can I Improve Diastasis Recti?
The good news is you can improve diastasis recti even if it is years later. Proper core training, and a total body approach to healing is key. With this approach, you can see significant improvements in your diastasis recti. The Strong Like A Mother (SLAM) program helps you heal.