It should come as no surprise that pregnancy can pull quite a number on a woman’s body. The weight gain, the hormonal changes, the carrying a nine pound bowling ball in your belly – these things all add up and can change a few things anatomically. One very common after effect of pregnancy is diastasis when the top layer of abdominals, the rectus abdominis, separate by pulling away from the center line of the body known as the linea alba.
While that may sound painful, the muscles slowly stretch and separate over the course of the nine months so there really is no pain involved. The pain actually may occur sometime later, in the form of back pain since the spine relies on strong abdominals for support.
Diastasis is fairly common and the muscles will come together on their own about 6 months after labor. Post pregnancy, it is considered healed/normal when only 2 fingers fit in the gap between the abs. Working the deep abdominals, primarily the transversus abdominis, TVA, is your best bet for strengthening your abs and reducing the gap. The TVA pulls all 4 layers of abdominal muscles toward the spine and in essence fills in the gap created by the diastasis. By working the deep abs you can decrease the gap!
To see how to test for the condition read more
- Begin by lying on your back with your feet on floor and your knees bent. Your feet should be about 12" from your bum.
- Put one hand on your belly with your finger tips parallel to the line of your waist (this is how your will measure the gap). Put your other hand hand behind your head for support.
- Using your arm, lift your head and shoulders off the floor keeping your abs completely relaxed. You are putting your body in a position on an "upper ab curl" or a "crunch."
- Use your fingertips to feel for a gap between the left and right sides of your rectus abdominis (the six pack abs). Feel above and below your belly button.
- Keeping fingers cross wise, insert your finger tips and see how many fingers fit.
Fit's Tip: Once your TVA is strong you can start strengthening your upper abs, but do splint them by crossing your arms, placing the heel of your hands close to the diastasis and squeezing the palms of your hands together. If you just squeeze your abs without crossing your arms you run the risk of pushing the abs up instead of together. So crossing the arms is key.