How to start healing Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) – phase 1 – closing the gap
In my clinical practice and group classes I have probably assessed and started the rehabilitation process for abdominal separation over 300 times. I’ll explain why I say “started” the rehab process in a moment.
What I have noticed is that full, permanent recovery from abdominal separation involves 3 very clear, very different steps. And these are the 2 rules I’ve learned from working with so many tummies:
1 – The steps need to be done sequentially – i.e. – you can’t skip a step
2 – They need to be done for the entire length of time allocated – due to the physiological nature of tissue repair – i.e. – there is no speeding up the process
Today we are going to look at step 1 – CLOSING THE GAP
Most women think this is the only step in the process. But once we close the gap – we need to make sure it doesn’t open again – hence steps 2 and 3.
It’s like glueing the head back onto the figurine your child keeps playing with. It may be stuck back on, but if you try and play with it before the glue has dried – that head comes straight off again.
And, when it happens – when you’ve done that initial rehab and suddenly you have separation again, or jelly belly again, or pelvic floor dysfunction again – it’s the same feeling of frustration and disappointment as the kid with the broken toy who thought it was ready to use again.
So here’s how to get started with STEP 1 –
- Know how to assess your separation (or get a professional to do it for you)
You can’t see if you are making any progress without knowing where you’re at. Make sure whoever is assessing you does so below the belly button, above, and also right in the middle, as these can be different points of weakness along the linea alba.
– Make sure you are confident about how to activate your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis –
These 2 are crucial to closing the gap – if they aren’t working during the rehabilitation sequence, in my experience, the gap doesn’t close.
If you aren’t sure about how to activate your pelvic floor you can have a look here –
– Do the right exercises
It’s hard to get started on your own without professional guidance, but this exercise is a great place to start:
– Know what to avoid while the “glue is drying” so to speak
If you aren’t sure what types of activities can re-open unhealed separation, check out these links here:
How long do I need to stay in phase 1 for?
Everyone is different, but I use 3 specific exercises that I measure progress with when when working in phase 1 of healing DRAM. Once these have been completed successfully it’s time to progress to phase 2 – which usually takes between 6-8 weeks.
It’s essential to give your body the time it needs to physiologically repair the structures. Once the gap has closed/narrowed you can start to progress to reinforcing the tissue of the linea alba by strengthening the overlaying fascia and muscles. This needs to be done from different angles to solidify the good work you have already done.
Ensure you don’t just start the rehab process by only closing the gap – steps 2 and 3 will be featured next – so you know how to finish the process, and thus don’t have to worry about it again.