How I Healed my Diastasis Recti and got Into the Best Shape of my Life

Before I tell you my story, as a fitness professional, I need to make something clear; there is no magic method that will heal or close “the gap”, when it comes to healing diastasis recti. It’s not about closing the gap, but about making your core functional again. Unfortunately, in some cases, surgery is needed, but for most women with diastasis, a full body approach is what it takes to heal.

Start with physical therapy to isolate the problem, and then move on to an experienced trainer; one who understands the postpartum body, and your issue. Someone needs to give you clear instructions and monitor your progress. I’m sure you can find randomly selected exercises that — Yes, help with diastasis healing, but they have to be applicable to YOU and YOUR needs in order to be effective. You know your fitness level and degree of your condition. Now you need a professional who will create and select a customized plan for you.

When you get true diastasis (2-5 fingers of width between the ab muscles, and is deep and soft) the gap will most likely remain. I’m not telling you this to scare you, but to establish realistic expectations. You can have the gap and healed diastasis at the same time. These concepts are not mutually exclusive. If you start with working on your breathing, proper postpartum core exercises, pelvic floor exercises, and full body strengthening exercises, you will heal your diastasis. How long will it take? Forever. It’s a lifelong plan, and process. That’s just reality. Move your body. If you don’t exercise, you will lose your strength, not just your core strength, but your overall strength. Maintaining strong core will take effort.

I was a personal trainer long before I had kids. I had a strong core, and I worked out on regular basis. Not too much, not too little either. I was in “ok” shape. After my first son was born, I realized I had diastasis. I couldn’t believe it happened to me. As it turns out, it can happen to anybody, for different reasons. I was strong, I worked out during pregnancy, but my baby was too big for my small frame. This doesn’t have to be the cause for other women. Maybe for you it was altered posture, weaker core, or something else, but whatever the reason, it happens.

My gap got even bigger after my second child (including serious damage to my skin). She was a full pound bigger. Mine is the most common type of diastasis, which runs the widest around the umbilicus. (Maybe yours is different.)

It seemed like the one option for fixing my issue, was tummy-tuck surgery. That didn’t happen for many reasons. I kind of accepted this as one of the changes in my body that a lot of mothers experience. Plus, I was looking for a holistic approach. I’ve read enough on the subject over the last 7 years, to know that — It Will. Not Close.

Since then, there have been many “new” methods that have shown up on the market and claim to have a, “magic solution” to diastasis. Marketing campaigns prey on new mothers, promising them quick fixes from weight loss solutions, to diastasis and pelvic floor fixes. I hope you won’t spend money on those quick fixes. They don’t work. What works is a systematic, full body approach, based on progression of exercise(s). The routine and method will not be the same for everybody. That’s why there is no “quick-fix” for these issues, they need to be specific to you, and your case. So again, find a good personal trainer.

When searching/researching for that ‘good personal trainer’, there are several things to consider, such as, prenatal/postnatal certification. Although it’s an important step, prenatal/postnatal certification is only the beginning. Just keep this in mind: if the trainer specializes in everything, they won’t really know how to train a postpartum client. Experience and knowledge on the subject is truly everything, so I suggest you start your search with prenatal/postnatal certification and go from there.

The goal is to make your diastasis functional (which means the gap most likely won’t close), and to activate and strengthen your core. By doing this, the laxity of your linea alba will improve. If you can do daily tasks without lower back pain, without feeling as if your internal organs falling out, if you can draw in your belly button and control your core during daily tasks and physical activity, you can consider your diastasis healed.

In my case, it’s always a work in progress. It is never done. I’m active, I lift weights, I run, I do yoga, everything where my body can move. I’m mindful of my condition. I know how to engage my core without compromising or compensating. I know how to do it, and because research is part of my job, I constantly look for answers, and I’m always on the look-out for new or updated information from valid, reliable sources. The program that I created for myself, works. That does not mean what I do for me, will work for you. Maybe you need a slightly different approach, with different exercises. We are all different, we are in different places on our fitness journey. Therefore, we need a specific approach, not a band-aid solution that works for “Everybody” and “Nobody”.

I’m happy with the strength I’ve gained since my last pregnancy, five years ago. I see progress. It does not stop. Of course, I’m getting older and I notice the signs, but my body is getting stronger and that’s what we all should aim for. Our health is the goal in the end.

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About the Author : Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt NASM Personal Trainer and mom of 2 living in NYC. On a mission to find healthy balance through exercise in her life and help other women to do the same, because “the greatest gift you can give your family and the world, is a healthy You”.

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