Diastasis Recti Exercises for Men rectus is the distance between the straight abdominal muscles. Many women show these symptoms immediately after giving birth; Diastasis Recti Exercises for Men although the gap can vary in width and length: On average, the diastasis rectus is 2 to 10 cm wide and 12 to 15 cm long Diastasis Recti Exercises for Men.
37% of first-time mothers and 67% of multiple mothers suffer from diastasis recti during and after pregnancy. The most common symptoms of a diastasis recti are – in addition to the palpable cleft in the abdomen – more or less severe discomfort or pain in the lower back, buttocks, and hips, especially during physical activity.
Diastasis recti is an all too common problem that affects both women and men. The condition can be caused by internal pressure on the front of your abdomen around your belly button resulting from obesity or pregnancy, which separates or weakens the connective tissue in your gut. Specific exercises can often alleviate or correct the problem. Talk to your doctor if you experience pain or a lump in your stomach.
What is diastasis recti?
A rectus diastasis (also diastasis recti, out of alignment, midline break) is the medical term for the straight abdominal muscle strands (musculus rectus abdominis) being too far apart. The linea alba, the vertical suture of connective tissue between the muscles, is usually one to two centimeters wide. With a diastasis, it is up to ten centimeters. The gap creates a bulge in the abdomen. Diastasis recti can also be congenital or caused by being overweight, but it is usually the result of pregnancy.
Who gets diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti are not uncommon. Sixty percent of mothers have a gap between their abdominal muscles six weeks after giving birth. In half of those affected, it closes by itself. In the other half, the overstretched abdominal muscles remain a problem even 12 months after the birth.
Women who are not first-time mothers, mothers with multiple births or children with high birth weight, and women over 35 years of age are particularly susceptible. Additional risk factors include excessive abdominal exercise during pregnancy and extreme physical exertion from heavy lifting.
How does the diastasis rectus develop?
During pregnancy, of course, your baby needs more and more space in the tummy. The uterus grows, the other organs are in the way and are pushed aside. The straight abdominal muscles also give way to the side. Also, there is the effect of the pregnancy hormone relaxin. It makes the muscles of your body looser. So nature creates space for your child. The price is a gap between the abs. Often it does not develop until the last trimester of pregnancy. It usually only becomes visible after birth.
How do I recognize a diastasis recti?
After the regression, you can often tell whether you are one of those women whose abdominal muscles do not come together again after giving birth. The pounds have tumbled off quite well; the muscles are overall a bit firmer again. But there is still no question of a flat stomach. A protruding belly stubbornly persists, which does not go away even with further weight loss. Visually, the bulging lower abdomen with a diastasis also resembles a hernia. From a medical point of view, however, it is not.
Another symptom is a kind of bulge between the two abdominal muscles when you laugh or cough. The size of the gap varies. It can be between two and ten centimeters wide, 12 to 15 centimeters long, and most pronounced in the navel area. It can reach from the coastal arch to the pubic bone, but it can also be shorter.
Instructions: This is how you can feel the gap yourself
- Lie on your back and lift your head slightly.
- Put your knees on, feet hip-width apart.
- Place two fingers above the navel (they point towards the pubic bone).
- Exhale and contract your abs and pelvic floor.
- Press your fingertips into the abdominal wall and feel the gap (if there is one).
How does the doctor make a diagnosis?
Your doctor will also be able to tell whether you have a diastasis and how severe it is by simply feeling your abdominal wall. An ultrasound examination is usually not necessary. Also, he asks you about previous pregnancies and other possible risk factors. Even if you have already felt the gap yourself, it is essential that your doctor makes the diagnosis and that you do not start with exercises for the abdominal muscles on your own. Your doctor will recommend special training and, if diagnosed, will also write you a prescription for physiotherapy.
Does diastasis recti cause discomfort?
Diastasis does not cause acute pain. The complaints are initially more in the optics. Most women suffer from visible bulges. Still, the gap between the straight abs can also have negative health implications in the medium and long term. After all, the muscles in the abdomen, together with the back muscles, ensure the body’s stability. If they do not fulfill their support function, this can have consequences.
Often, diastasis leads to chronic lower back pain, lumbar instability, or digestive problems. The risk of a hernia or scarring also increases. Women with repeated pregnancies are more likely to experience painful symptoms because the muscles in the abdomen have already been stretched a lot.
Birth can also be made more difficult by diastasis. The abdominal muscles lack the strength to force the child out. The back muscles can often create a balance. An upright posture of childbirth is an advantage in these cases.
How can I prevent diastasis recti?
Unfortunately, you cannot entirely prevent it. But with these tips, the gap won’t get that big. And: They help you get rid of diastasis after giving birth. You will certainly get the following advice from your midwife:
- Always get up over the side from lying down (strengthening the oblique muscles and protecting the straight abdominal muscles)
- No extreme ab exercises during pregnancy
- Do not lift heavily
- Consistently do postnatal gymnastics after the birth
What helps with a diastasis recti?
- Once your doctor has made a positive diagnosis, you need to take action yourself. The following tips and exercises will help your body fill the gap again.
- Avoid exercises that train the straight or superficial abdominal muscles. They can make the problem worse.
- This includes crunches and sit-ups.
- Avoid doing intense backbends—for example, the camel, the dog, or the bow in yoga.
- As part of your regression, do regular exercises for the inner abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor (e.g., from Pilates training).
- Always stand up over your side from lying down.
- If you are overweight, reduce your weight.
Are the exercises still functional later on?
You can consistently achieve an effect by exercising regularly. Even if you don’t start doing the exercises until years after the birth, you can reduce the gap.
With the proper training, diastasis usually regresses over time. It is best to have your midwife or an experienced physiotherapist show you the exercises not to worsen the gap through incorrect training. Surgery is very rarely necessary as therapy.
Effective postnatal gymnastics with special diastasis rectus exercises is often only possible if you train together with a physiotherapist or your midwife (e.g., exercises according to Angela Heller). Because with this targeted training, your muscles work against the therapist’s hand.
You are tensed diagonally from the hip to the shoulder. While the therapist holds the two straight abdominal muscles together, pull your shoulders up a little and push forward slightly against the resistance. After inhaling twice, it is time to relax again.
You can start the exercises two days after spontaneous delivery. After a cesarean section, you have to wait about two weeks.
When is an operation necessary?
If the symptoms continue to increase, fractures (hernias) occur in the midline, and organs are pinched in the process, an operation may be necessary. The surgeon will fix the abdominal muscles in the correct position with sutures. Also, he can strengthen the abdominal wall with plastic nets. After the procedure, the patient first wears a waist belt and later special compression garments. Sport and physical exertion are taboo during this time.
Are women only affected?
Since pregnancy is the primary cause, women are predominantly affected. But even very overweight men can acquire diastasis in the straight abdominal muscles due to the fat that presses on the muscles.
Infants are also often affected after birth. With them, the distance between the straight abdominal muscles is initially relatively large. The gap mostly disappears when the little ones start walking.
Abdominal muscles and diastasis
The abdominal muscles are essential for stabilizing the pelvis and for keeping the pelvic floor functioning properly. You have to train them for strength and endurance. Even six weeks after the birth, every movement that involves the abdominal muscles means that they have not yet returned to their full power. With an active lifestyle and abs training, you can ensure that your abs regenerate as much as possible.
During pregnancy, the abdominal wall in the middle of the abdomen, between the two halves of the middle abdominal muscles, is weakened.
The abdominal wall consists of connective and supporting tissue, including collagen fibers.
Pregnancy hormones release the tension in the fibers, causing them to stretch. After the birth, this process is reversed, and the collagen fibers regain their normal tensile strength. However, prolonged stretching and tears in the fibers can prevent the connective tissue from fully recovering. The two halves of the abdominal wall then remain divided. This is a diastasis.
The risk of diastasis recti is increased by substantial weight gain during pregnancy or by having twin pregnancies. Three out of ten women have a mild form of diastasis recti after their first pregnancy—the risk and severity of diastasis increases after multiple pregnancies.
Diagnosis of diastasis recti
One can test the severity of diastasis with the following exercise. Lie on your back with your legs drawn up and your arms lengthways next to your body. Raise your head towards your knees.
The elongated bulge that you see on your stomach is the diastasis. This is the stretched connective tissue that, when the muscles are tensed, bundles together between the two halves of the middle abdominal muscles and forms a bulge.
You can also diagnose diastasis with your fingers by pressing 2cm above your belly button. You will then feel a space between the middle abs.
The time it takes to recover from diastasis recti after birth depends on its severity. Don’t start exercising your middle abs until the diastasis has been adequately corrected:
Slight diastasis recti ( 5 cm long, 1 cm wide) will correct themselves as soon as you start slowly to stimulate your abdominal muscles.
Mild diastasis recti (up to 10 cm long, 2 cm wide) cannot be completely corrected. However, this does not necessarily have to lead to complaints. Abdominal exercises can help create health problems.
Severe diastasis recti (longer than 10 cm, more expansive than 2 cm) does not correct itself and must be corrected surgically, comparable to an umbilical hernia. Increased pressure and tension in the abdomen can no longer be absorbed by the abdominal muscles, even if they are well trained.
In the first few weeks after giving birth, you can start doing some small exercises to strengthen your pelvis and abdominal muscles.
Diastasis recti in men exercises: Abdominal breathing, active and low
- This is a good exercise for strengthening your abdominal and pelvic muscles.
- Lie on your back with your knees drawn up and place your hands on your stomach.
- Diastasis recti exercises for men: Draw in your belly button and press your back to the floor.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds and then relax.
- Diastasis recti exercises for men: Repeat this exercise 3 times for 10 seconds each time.
Diastasis recti in men exercises: Active lateral abdominal breathing
This exercise will help bring the straight abdominal muscles together without using too much force.
- Exercises for diastasis recti in men: Lie on your right side with your knees drawn up and support your head with your right hand. Pull in your belly button and keep breathing well.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds, and then relax your stomach.
- Repeat this exercise 3 times for 10 seconds each time, on both your left and right sides.
- Bend and straighten the legs
- This exercise leads to better blood circulation in your legs and strengthens your pelvis and abs.
- Exercises for diastasis recti in men: Lie on your back with both of you stretched out and placed your arms lengthways next to your body.
- Pull your right leg towards your chest and then straighten the leg again.
- Your back stays flat on the floor.
- Exercises for diastasis recti in men: Repeat this exercise 6 to 8 times with each leg.
Diastasis recti in men exercises: Make a bridge
- This exercise strengthens the stability of the upper body and pelvic muscles.
- Lie on your back with your feet on the floor. Leave some space between your back and feet.
- Place your arms lengthways next to your body.
- Draw in your belly button and contract your abs.
- Your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise 6 times.
- Use the phase 2 ab exercises on pages 74 and 75 to properly stimulate and rebuild your abdominal muscles (see below).
- If the space between the abdominal wall remains well over 2 cm wide and 10 cm long, please consult your doctor before continuing with the abdominal exercises.
Diastasis recti in men exercises: Knuckle grip
- With this exercise, you train your deeper lying muscles and oblique abdominal muscles for a slim waist.
- Lie on your back with your knees drawn up and keep your arms lengthways next to your body.
- Lift your upper body slightly, starting from your shoulders, and grab your right ankle with your right hand.
- Then, grab your left ankle with your left hand.
- Repeat this five times each time, alternating the sides.
- Repeat the exercise 3 times.
Diastasis recti in men exercises: External abdominal muscles
- This exercise trains the external oblique muscles.
- Lie on your side and support yourself on your right upper arm.
- Then bend your knees backward at a 90-degree angle.
- Keep your thighs in a straight line with your torso.
Lift your hips as high as possible and hold this position for 5 seconds. Then slowly lower your hips again.
- Repeat this exercise 3 times on both sides.
Diastasis recti men exercises: Knee plank (forearm support)
- This exercise works the transverse abdominal muscles.
- Get on your hands and knees, supporting yourself with your hands or forearms.
- Tighten your abs and make sure your head is in a straight line with the rest of your body.
- Also, make sure that your upper body does not sag or that you lift your buttocks.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise 5 times.
Diastasis recti men exercises: Strengthening the lateral core
- This Thera-Band exercise is very effective for exercising your back and abs.
- Wrap the center of the Thera-Band around a pole or door handle.
- Stand with both feet hip-distance apart and bend your knees slightly.
- Grab the ribbon at both ends with both hands.
- Move your arms forward, stretched out at shoulder level.
- Then pull the tape 90 degrees to the right with your arms outstretched and then slowly return to the starting position without lowering your arms.
- Pull the ribbon eight times to the right and eight times to the left.
Diastasis recti men exercises: Strengthening the core, in short
- Another way of using the Thera-Band to train the back and abdominal muscles are the following.
- Wrap the Thera-Band around a bar or door handle. Stand about three feet from the bar, with your feet hip apart, and knees slightly bent.
- Make sure there is enough tension on the belt. Grab the ribbon at both ends with both hands.
- Move your arms forward, stretched out at shoulder level.
- Keep your arms outstretched and pull the tape more and more to the right with short pulls. Do this for 10 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise twice on the left and right sides.
Abdominal muscles build-up
Under the skin of the abdominal wall lies the more or less pronounced layer of fat, which is separated from the muscles by a connective tissue structure (fascia). The abdominal muscles are the basis of the abdominal wall, separated from the intestines by the peritoneum. The muscle layers are made up of different strengths. For example, the flat, straight abdominal muscle connects the chest and pelvis. The lateral abdominal muscles cover the straight abdominal muscles with their flat tendons on each side and form the so-called rectus sheath there. In its center is the linea alba, which is affected in the diastasis recti.
Diastasis recti: symptoms
A diastasis recti usually do not cause any symptoms. In those affected, a gap can be felt in the middle of the abdomen. Under tension, a visible and palpable bulge can occur.
As the pregnancy progresses, diastasis recti can manifest itself with pain in the lower back, buttocks, and hips during exercise. In particular, women who have already had several pregnancies suffer from it, as the muscles have been stretched repeatedly.
Excess tissue and skin can protrude in the front part of the abdomen; in the last trimester of pregnancy, the upper part of the uterus protrudes from the abdominal wall. If the diastasis recti are very large, the outline of the unborn baby can sometimes be seen.
The birth can be made more difficult by the diastasis rectus, as the abdominal muscles cannot be used with sufficient force to push the child out. An upright childbearing posture and the back muscles can compensate for this.
Which muscles should I exercise with diastasis recti?
Wrong: training the superficial straight abdominal muscles. These muscles move your core. They work when you bend or turn forwards or sideways. This is how you enlarge your diastasis instead of closing it. Exercises such as sit-ups and crunches aggravate the actual problem and lead to poor posture (hollow back), back problems, and instability in the lumbar area.
Correct: Training the inner abdominal muscles, the pelvic floor, and the transverse M. Transversus (TVA). The internal abdominal muscles do not move the trunk; they keep your abdominal wall stable and protect the organs and the spine. The pelvic floor and the transverse muscle support the internal abdominal muscles like a corset when they are tensed. So these muscles help you to stabilize your core and close the diastasis.
Diastasis recti: causes and risk factors
Most diastasis of the rectus is acquired, especially in pregnant women, and genetic risk factors rarely play a role.
Acquired diastasis recti
Pregnancy is a typical cause of diastasis recti. As the child grows in the uterus during pregnancy, the abdominal muscles stretch and lose their tension. Also, the pregnancy hormone relaxin has a relaxing effect and promotes stretching of the Linea Alba. The diastasis recti often develop in the last trimester of pregnancy, when the abdomen becomes more expansive. Therefore, women should try not to put additional strain on their stomachs – for example, by lifting heavy things.
Repeated pregnancies or multiple pregnancies increase the risk of diastasis recti.
In some cases, being overweight also leads to diastasis recti, as the abdominal fat can also stretch the abdominal wall.
Congenital diastasis recti
Diastasis recti rarely have genetic causes. In such a case, the abdominal muscles do not run parallel but rather move apart upwards. The linea alba widens, which allows the abdominal wall to bulge.
Diastasis recti in newborns
Diastasis recti can also occur in newborns and infants, as the distance between the two straight abdominal muscles is comparatively wide in them. However, the diastasis recti disappear as soon as the children start running. An operation is usually not necessary.
Diastasis recti: examinations and diagnosis
If diastasis rectus is suspected, the gynecologist or general practitioner is usually the first point of contact. To collect the medical history ( anamnesis ), the doctor will first have a detailed conversation with the patient, in which he asks, for example, whether someone already has several children.
In the case of diastasis recti, the doctor makes the diagnosis relatively quickly based on a tactile finding. To do this, the patient lies on his back and is asked to tense the abdominal wall, for example, by lifting his head. The doctor can use his fingers above the navel to feel the gap in the abdominal wall between the tense muscles.
If the patient stands up, laughs, or coughs, the diastasis recti bulge out as a “bulge” between the two standing straight abdominal muscles. In women with multiple pregnancies or a pathological increase in amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios), drawn-out abdominal muscles can often be felt.
An ultrasound examination is rarely necessary for diastasis recti; it shows how far the diastasis recti has progressed.
Diastasis recti: treatment
To correct the diastasis rectus, the abdominal muscles are first used. If necessary, excess weight is reduced. If there are hardly any complaints, surgery is rarely required.
The following should be observed in everyday life: As long as the doctor can feel the diastasis rectus, the straight abdominal muscles should not be strained or exercised not to enlarge the diastasis recti. It is best to stand up from lying down on your side only. To do this, roll yourself entirely to the side and then prop yourself up on the side with your arm to sit down.
There are various diastasis recti exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles and reduce the gap. They should be completed together with an experienced physiotherapist or midwife.
According to Angela Hellers, the diastasis rectus exercises are an excellent method to bring the abdominal muscles back together and are recommended for patients with diastasis rectus over two centimeters in length: By working evenly against the therapist’s hand, tense the forces diagonally from the hip to the shoulder. While the midwife or physiotherapist holds the two straight abdominal muscles together, pull your shoulders up a little and push slightly forward against the resistance. After a breath or two, relax again.
Already two days after a spontaneous delivery or two weeks after a cesarean section, each side can be trained once, at most twice. If the exercise is repeated over several days, the diastasis recti decrease and are usually only one centimeter wide. This exercise can positively influence even diastasis rectus that has existed for several years.
Diastasis recti exercises for men: surgery
The diastasis recti usually do not need to be operated on. However, if the diastasis recti symptoms increase and fractures occur in the midline and the umbilical region with complications, surgery is advisable. The surgeon creates internal sutures that fix the abdominal muscles in the correct position. The abdominal wall can be additionally stabilized with plastic nets.
After the diastasis rectus operation, the patient wears an abdominal belt that compresses the abdomen and special compression garments for about six weeks. Heavy physical activity and sport are taboo for at least four weeks.
Diastasis recti exercises for men: disease course and prognosis
In most cases, the diastasis recti regress with appropriate training. A narrow diastasis rectus one or more centimeters long can heal independently; after pregnancy, the regression process may take time. If there is pain, surgery may have to be performed. Complications only occur if the diastasis recti breaks and organs or parts of organs are pinched, but this is only very rarely the case.
HOW DO YOU TEST FOR DIASTASIS RECTI?
Do you have an unusually soft, bulging belly that still looks pregnant even though you have regressed? Do you have an unstable feeling in your core? Or back pain? Then you should ask yourself: Do I have diastasis recti?
The technical term “diastasis recti” means abdominal muscle split. The two strands of the straight abdominal muscles are further apart than is physiologically intended. The tendon plate, which usually keeps these two strands close together, is broader and softer than usual. If the gap is more than two fingers wide and the tendon plate cannot build up any tension, one speaks of the diastasis rectus. The abdominal muscles lose their actual function; they no longer work effectively; one also says of abdominal wall weakness.
Women are primarily affected after one or, above all, after several pregnancies. At the end of pregnancy, the large abdominal muscle gap is average, but it should narrow again after birth, which it doesn’t always do.
Signs of diastasis recti include:
- Huge belly despite average weight and complete regression
- Unstable core
- Pelvic floor problems
- Back pain
How do I diagnose diastasis recti? Diastasis recti test:
- First, you test the distance between the abdominal muscles:
- Lie relaxed on your back with your legs up, position your fingers below the navel, the fingers must be vertical and “poke” into the soft abdominal wall.
- Lift your head until you feel a slight tension (twitching) in the two cords of the abdominal muscles.
- How vast is the distance here? In this way, check the entire length of the rectus strands from the pubic bone to the sternum.
- If a “bump” or “dam” appears, it signifies very wide diastasis rectus.
- Average spacing: 1 to 2 fingers wide.
- After you have tested the distances with relatively relaxed core muscles, check what happens if you tense the pelvic floor and muscle corset beforehand:
- Position your body and fingers as described above.
- Tension the pelvic floor and muscle corset.
- Inwards and upwards, shorten the distance between the pubic bone and the breastbone and bring the coastal arches closer together.
- Lift your head and check the crevice. If the distances are now smaller when the core is tensed, this is a good sign.
Then you test the strength of the tendon plate between the two cords of the abdominal muscle:
- Starting position as above.
- Lift your head until you feel a slight tension (twitching) in the two cords of the abdominal muscles.
- How deep can you push your fingers into the gap? How soft is the tendon plate? In this way, check the entire length of the tendon plate.
- If one perceives a pulsation in the depths, it could be the organs. This is a sign of a very soft/weak tendon plate.
- If you now feel more firmness and less depth, this is a good sign.
Can and must a diastasis recti be operated on?
In principle, the diastasis rectus is operable. But this is where the problem begins. Since it is “only” a protrusion, there is usually no medical indication (i.e., a necessity) for an operation. The operation is usually not covered by statutory health insurance so that the patients then have to pay for it themselves.
The situation is different if there is an abdominal wall hernia, such as an epigastric or umbilical hernia. With these so-called hernias, there is always a gap in the abdominal wall that does not recede by itself but only gets more significant over the years.
Since fat from the inside of the abdomen or even the small intestine can become trapped in this gap, there is a medical need to close the gap. D greater detail takes health insurance these services forever. Problems can only arise with the type of care, whether it can or must be carried out on an outpatient or inpatient basis. Abdominal surgeons usually carry out the surgical treatment of hernias.
The simultaneous treatment of the diastasis rectus is not automatically provided since this has so far been a significantly larger intervention, resulting in a substantially larger skin incision and a pronounced wound area. This considerable additional expense is therefore only very rarely covered by the health insurance companies. There must be a written confirmation from the health fund that all costs will be covered.
Why do the plastic surgeon?
Since the cost of diastasis rectus surgery is usually not guaranteed by health insurance, the corrections in Germany are traditionally carried out by plastic-aesthetic surgeons who charge the patient for the entire operation as a self-payment. Besides, in addition to the diastasis rectus, there is also a sometimes massive overstretching of the abdominal skin, which requires a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty).
An experienced plastic-aesthetic surgeon should only do this. Otherwise, a very unsatisfactory cosmetic result can result. However, it should be emphasized that the treatment of a concurrent abdominal wall hernia in these operations often does not correspond to the standards (guidelines) of the abdominal surgeons. They insert plastic nets in specific sizes of abdominal wall hernias to prevent the hernia from recurring.
Which is the correct surgical procedure?
This question is difficult to answer as there is no standardized operation. The main problem is the surgical access to the diastasis recti. Of course, significant cuts in the center line that would quickly solve the problem are unacceptable.
A diastasis can be sutured in a minimally invasive manner via keyhole surgery, but the sutures should not be inside the abdomen, i.e., not directly contacting the intestines. A net lying in the stomach for stabilization is not indicated in otherwise healthy patients.
However, in recent years there have been several innovations in the surgical treatment of abdominal wall hernias, which are now incorporated into diastasis rectus therapy in experienced centers and lead to healing and a cosmetically pleasing result with at least minor findings.
To buy a discounted health product and get your personal advice, please message.You can find answers to all questions on our site.