Updated: Mar 6, 2021
I remember looking for a direct answer to the question, “How do I know that my diastasis recti has healed?” And I couldn’t find it. Anywhere. I wanted a number. A measurement. A clear line that I had crossed so that I could:
The reason I couldn't find a black-and-white answer is because there isn't one.
After years of reading, research, taking courses and hosting interviews, here is where I've landed:
1️⃣ For tissues to recover, they require tension.
The level of tension will be relative to the level of injury and phase of recovery. Sometimes it will be gentle breathing exercises and sometimes heavy deadlifts. It depends on the situation (and the person) but the underlying principle always applies. It’s essentially the difference between healing via bedrest (passive) vs healing via movement (active). .
2️⃣ Healing has little to do with the width or size of the “gap” between your rectus abdominis.
You can have a multiple-finger gap and still go on your merry way symptom-free and strong AF (and, yes, with a flat stomach. BUT while we’re here….) >>>RANTY --> The flatness of one’s stomach is a whole other deep dive ranging from “Why?” to “When did we decide flat stomachs were an assessment of health and strength?” and “Wait a second - doesn’t chronically pulling in my stomach to create the illusion of flatness cinch my core canister and create a downward pressure thereby affecting the efficacy and tension of my pelvic floor”? …🙋as I sit here, alone in my office, trying to force my belly to relax after 2 decades of “pulling it tight” 🤦♀️. .
3️⃣ There are 17* different rehab and recovery protocols. (* No, there’s not.) .
For some, this will mean starting with breathing and sensation exercises on your back and all-4s. For some, it’ll be about paying extra attention to how we stand at the sink (i.e. do we rest our pelvis against the counter?) or how we pick up a bucket seat (i.e. maybe we add a focused exhale as we lift to support our pelvic floor and think about not ‘bearing down and out’ on our PF or DR). Or maybe it’ll be about performing light deadlifts at the gym and reinforcing our “neutral” torso position.
4️⃣ Your body is one connected entity, not a series of parts and sections.
DR recovery requires a whole body solution (and whole body movement). The position of our feet, pelvis, back, shoulders, head, etc. may increase forward (or backward or downward) abdominal pressure. NOW. The problem isn’t the positions themselves but being chronically in that one position. For example, if my lower back is always arching forward, I’ll have pressure continually pressing against my linea alba. (That is, giving it the same message the growing baby was of “I need more space up front!” and therefore maintaining or increasing the thinness of the linea alba.
5️⃣ Our bodies are designed to make all shapes.
Yes. We talk about “ideal” posture and position in strength training and rehab. Confusing, right? But the truth is that most bodies aren’t about to break under a slight deviation from a biomechanical ideal. Are there benefits to learning these positions to help us lift heavy stuff? Sure. Are there benefits to learning how certain positions increase abdominal pressure? Sure. But our bodies can deal with - and in fact, thrive - with deviations. The ideal posture is the one that changes. This makes our bodies more resilient to future injury and more powerful in the present.
6️⃣ Getting back to real life, daily activities could be the biggest contributor to successful DR rehab.
Check with your physio to ensure there are no other underlying concerns or contraindications (because, Mama, postpartum can be A LOT) before jumping into regular daily activities. AND I’m not insinuating you birth a baby and jump out of your birthing pool and start folding laundry. Give yourself multiple weeks or months to soak up all the help and assistance you can.
Once we’re emotionally and physically ready, we will be able to happily continue picking up a bucket seat and a handful of groceries. (Remember: point #1 - we need tension to teach our tissues they need to get stronger!)
7️⃣ It takes time.
We are still learning a lot about fascia. For example, early beliefs about “breaking down fascia tightness by bashing one’s leg against a foam roller” have been shown be inaccurate. (There is some interesting stuff about neural stimulation with purposeful placement but… we’ll see.) Like ligaments and tendon healing, connective tissue recovery is often a bit longer, than say a bone break, due to tissue complexity and lower blood supply.
8️⃣ THE (technical) GOAL OF DIASTASIS RECTI REHAB:
a linea alba that rebounds like a trampoline when gently pressed with your fingers. This signals the linea alba’s ability to effectively transfer load and support the body.
9️⃣ THE (actual) GOAL:
Yes - do all that, Linea Alba - but the goal reeeaaally is to get back to living your life and enjoying all the activities you want to - feeling strong AF and worry-free.
Leave the over-thinking and over-bracing to anticipating and dismantling Fleabag character arcs🙌.