How To Really Heal A Diastasis
Updated: Oct 19
“We don’t know which exercises work to close a diastasis”
I love having clients who are engaged and hungry for knowledge to heal themselves.
One of my clients had a lot of questions for me after reading about a recent article saying that researchers don’t know how to close a diastasis.
The article talked about the research that Kari Bø is doing into diastasis, which muscles to strengthen and which exercises to do to close one.
You can read the article in Norwegian here: https://forskning.no/2018/03/forskerne-aner-ikke-hvordan-du-skal-trene-en-slik-mammamage
And Kari Bø’s research here:
Is it all about the gap?
In the past, healing a diastasis was mainly focused on closing the gap between the rectus abdominals (6 pack muscles) and it was thought that the transverse abdominals were the key to this (these are seen as you deep inner support or corset muscles).
The latest research shows that the transverse abdominals actually tension or pull sideways, when activated.
This can have the effect of widening the distance between the rectus abdominal muscles or opening a diastasis.
So healing (I prefer to say healing rather than closing) a diastasis needs to look beyond just activating and strengthening the deep abdominal muscles.
The latest way of looking at healing a diastasis is not to solely focus on how wide of a gap you have between your rectus abdominal muscles (this is called inter-recti distance and up to 2 fingers width is considered a normal range).
I am much more concerned with your ability to create and control the tension in the connective tissue between your rectus muscles (this connective tissue is called the linea alba, and it stretches out during pregnancy to create room for the baby.)
The tension in your linea alba is affected directly by how you control your internal or intra abdominal pressure. (IAP)
A weakened Linea Alba is usually under stress from internal pressure pushing against it while you lift and carry your baby or the car seat.
When you test for a diastasis, you want to check not only the width, but the depth as well, as depth is the most important measurement in regard to core stability and function.
A deep diastasis will give easily, and I have seen moms who can put both hands into their stomach because of the weakened connective tissue.
You can watch my video on how to test for a diastasis: Here
What does your internal pressure do?
Your core is closed system with its own internal pressure.
Your body increases or decreases this pressure to create stability in your body as needed.
The muscles in your core are made up of your diaphragm at the top, your pelvic floor at the bottom, your abdominal muscles on the front and the multifidi or deep muscles in your back.
How well your core muscles function, is directly influenced by what is going on around them.
For example, tight upper back muscles, which are very common in moms who are carrying and feeding babies all day, can stop your diaphragm from expanding and contracting properly.
This interferes with how well your internal pressure works, causing other muscles to have to work harder to create stability which can lead to pain and other issues down the road.
How to heal a Diastasis
I view diastasis as a symptom of an imbalance in your internal pressure system- and the weakest point is where that pressure tries to leak out of the system.
(If you have leaking or pelvic organ prolapse, then a weak point is also in your pelvic floor.
Often leaking and pelvic floor issues are found together with a diastasis.)
What this means is, that although we don't know of any one muscle group or exercise that can "close the gap" in a diastasis, there are multiple muscle groups that contribute to your control of your internal core pressure.
The question then becomes not how do you heal a diastasis, but what is causing you to mismanage your internal pressure and create your diastasis?
Finding the answer to this needs a full body approach.
You need to look from top to toe, to see what might be affecting
the balance of strength in your abdominal muscles (the transverse abs are part of this)
which muscles in your back are over working
what might be affecting your hip balance and pelvic floor muscles.
If you only try to heal a diastasis by only focusing on your abdominals or pelvic floor, then you may never get to the “root cause” of your diastasis.
This means you can re-open your diastasis every time you put too much strain on your core or lift something that is too heavy for your body right now, (this means you overload your internal pressure system.).
This took me a while to figure out and I "closed" and re-opened my diastasis 5 or 6 times before I wised up, dug deeper and educated myself on what I needed to know to find my "root cause".
I needed to learn to control my internal core pressure to truly heal.
"It's not WHAT you do, but HOW you do it"