Diastasis Recti Prevention – Does Exercise Before and During Pregnancy Prevent DR? -Part 2 0f 3

Welcome to Part 2 of 3 in this series on Diastasis Recti.

In Part 1-Diastasis Recti -Should Pregnant Women Do Sit-Ups? I go over the anatomy of the abs, give a detailed explanation as to what DR actually is, how to check for it, and whether or not pregnant women should be doing sit-ups. (The answer is-it depends)

Here in Part 2 I share

  • 3 sources of research supporting the question,
  • Does exercise help DR?
  • And my favorite resources for learning more about DR.

Here we go!

Yes! Exercise DOES help prevent pregnant women from getting Diastasis Recti.

How do we know?

The following research on the Benefits of Exercise in Reducing or Preventing Diastasis Recti will help answer that question.

How prevalent is Diastasis Recti among exercising women?

  • 90% of non‐exercising pregnant women exhibited diastasis recti while only 12.5% of exercising women had the condition.
  • The occurrence and size of DRA is much greater in non‐exercising pregnant women than in exercising pregnant women.
  • Because of the integral role the abdominal muscles play in functional activities we recommend examining pregnant and postpartum women for the presence of diastasis recti
    Adapted from a study done on The Effects of an Exercise Program on Diastasis Recti Abdominis in Pregnant Women
    Women’s Health Physical Therapy 2005

Why is diastasis recti less likely to occur in exercising pregnant women?

  • The abdominal, pelvic floor, and mutifidus muscles work synergistically (together) in women who are healthy, providing optimal trunk stabilization. This creates healthy connective tissue which forms the rectus “recti” sheath, the part of the abs at risk for splitting.
  • Women who have some impairment in abdominal wall and in the local connective tissue may present mechanical changes of the fasciae which form the rectus sheath, and this may damage the pelvic floor muscles.

Prevalence of diastasis of the rectus abdominis
muscles immediately postpartum July/August 2009
Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy
Rett MT1,2, Braga MD2, Bernardes NO1,2, Andrade SC

What about splinting?

Splinting refers to the wearing of a wrap to help cinch the abs back together

Effect of Abdominal Exercises versus Abdominal Supporting Belt on Post-Partum Abdominal Efficiency and Rectus Separation (Diastasis Recti)

  • This study concluded that postpartum women after performing abdominal exercises program starting from the 2nd day following delivery for 6 weeks, resulting in a greater increase in abdominal muscles strength and greater decrease in inter-recti distance (Diastasis Recti) than those who used post-natal supporting belt from the 2nd day following delivery till the end of puerperium.
  • So, abdominal exercises starting from the 2nd day after delivery could advised as a very effective method in restoring postpartum abdominal efficiency.

With this research, we can conclude that exercise before and during pregnancy DOES  significantly reduce a pregnant woman’s chance of getting Diastasis Recti.

Resources for learning more about DR

Katie Bowman, a movement expert and biomechanist, who writes in-depth about Diastasis Recti. She has the most relevant information on DR, including a brand new book titled Diastasis Recti (a must have for your continuing education library).

Katie Bowman Blog Posts:

Diastasis Recti – Under Pressure Part 1
Diastasis Recti- Under Pressure Part 2

Podcast Episode Transcripts

Katie Says: Diastasis Recti-The Book!

In Part 3 of 3 I will share the exercises to rehab DR, and what movements and exercises to stay away from.

Thank you for hanging out with me! Awesome job for taking the time to educate your mind! If you are currently working with pregnant women, I encourage you to share this information with them. It is a phenomenal testimony to our work as Pilates and fitness instructors.

If you have questions or comments, please fill in the contact form below, or e-mail me directly at alisonb.marsh@yourpregnantcore.com
If you haven’t done so yet, please pick up my complimentary PDF THE Pre & Postnatal Pilates Instructor Crash Course 
Happy Hundreds!

Alison B. Marsh


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