Diastasis Recti

More than 60% of all pregnant women suffer from diastasis recti.  Diastasis recti is the separation of your rectus abdominis, or the “six pack” muscles.  These muscles run down the midline of the stomach.  It is very common after pregnancy, but it can also happen to men and even infants.  Diastasis recti is when the separation of your abdominal muscles is 1.5-2cm in separation or more.  


You don’t necessarily need a doctor to diagnose diastasis recti.  You can do a self check on yourself. 

You first will want to lay down on the ground with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor.  Next you will raise your shoulders off the floor slightly.  At this point look at your belly.  Moving fingers above and below the bellybutton see if you can fit any fingers in between the muscles.  You may be able to see your belly bulge up as well.  If you can fit 1-2 finger lengths in the gap between your muscles this is considered a moderate case of diastasis recti.  If you are unsure though you can have a doctor check and measure as well.  


Risk Factors:

Anyone can get diastasis recti though it is more common in women who are pregnant or postpartum.  This is because when the uterus stretches to make room for the baby it pushes against the muscles stretching them. 

Women who have had multiple pregnancies, have pregnancies close together, carrying multiples, or being over thirty five while pregnant are more at risk. 

Developing diastasis recti outside of pregnancy is usually caused from lifting heavy objects incorrectly.  



Sometimes you don’t always know you have separation in your abdominal muscles until your muscles are flexed. 

Symptoms can include a bulge that runs down the middle of the abdomen. 

You could also suffer from lower back pain, weak abdominal muscles, difficulty lifting objects, difficulty performing routine daily tasks, poor posture, constipation, or bloating.  



Most of the time treatment can be done at home.  Only in extreme cases would you have to resort to surgery to help fix the separation in your muscles.  If you had to have surgery you would have an abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, to help close the gap between the muscles.  Most of the time though exercises at home will help close up the gap. 

Exercises to do at home are pelvic floor and deep stomach muscle exercises.  This can include Kegel exercises, pelvic tilts, toe taps, leg extensions, or side planks. 

You will want to make sure you stay away from abdominal twists, backward bends, not modified yoga poses, traditional crunches or sit ups, or traditional planks.  These exercises will put too much strain on your abdominals that it won’t support healthy healing in closing the separation. 

Other treatments to do at home is to practice good posture, and support your lower back when sitting or laying down.  



Diastasis recti is extremely common in women who are pregnant or postpartum.  Thankfully most of the treatment can be done at home and you won’t have to undergo surgery unless you have an extreme condition. 

The main things to do is work on strengthening the core throughout your pregnancy with exercises that are modified and healthy for you and the baby.  Also work on strengthening your pelvic floor during and after pregnancy as well. 

Waiting a duration of time between pregnancies can also lower your chance of suffering from diastasis recti.


Final Thoughts:

Anyone can suffer from diastasis recti and treatment for men who suffer from this is the same as it is for pregnant or postpartum women, doing exercises at home, staying away from lifting heavy objects and performing abdominal exercises correctly.  



During pregnancy the uterus stretches to make room for the baby and it pushes against the abdomenal muscles stretching them.

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