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Diastasis Recti 101

What is that?

Rectus Abdominis Diastasis (RAD) or diastasis recti refers to the separation of your abdominal muscles. In females RAD is considered normal during pregnancy as your body accommodates a growing baby. RAD is also seen in men, often relating to weak abdominal muscles or abdominal surgery. Separation occurs along the line of the linea alba as your tissues stretch and thin (not tear) and your rectus abdominis bellies move apart.

During pregnancy you may notice a bulge/tenting/doming down the front of your belly during certain activities. Postpartum your RAD may resolve spontaneously over a couple of weeks (~6) or you may experience a soft and hollow sensation down the middle of your belly or doming/tenting during exercising.

diastasis recti description

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Is it normal?

This physical presence of a ‘mummy tummy’ is often a cause for great concern as society pressures women into ‘bouncing back’ or matching up to an unattainable Instagram bod. The truth is that a RAD is normal during pregnancy and postpartum there are many factors that may impact your recovery. I always recommend a physiotherapy check up to assess your RAD (and pelvic floor) and to ensure that you are considering a holistic approach to postpartum recovery when setting goals.

Here is some helpful advice.

Below you will find a few tips to implement depending on what stage you are in.

General (Pregnancy and Postpartum/Men)

  • Avoid or adapt activities that exacerbate or cause RAD (plank, sit up, lifting, straining)
  • Breathe – think exhale on exertion, do not hold your breath.
  • Avoid a sit up manoeuvre, roll first to get out of bed, then exhale as you push yourself up.
  • Gently activate your pelvic floor (and breathe) as you sit up from the sofa/get out the bath/pick up a toddler.


  • Seek help of a Physiotherapist if you are concerned about your RAD or have any symptoms relating to your pelvic floor.
  • Perform safe and appropriate exercises including your pelvic floor. If unsure what that looks like, consult a professional that has experience with exercise during pregnancy.
  • Maintain general fitness (adapted as your body allows).
  • Be mindful of your posture (Click HERE to check out a video for some tips)


  • Be gentle and patient with your self in the weeks following delivery. Consider the ‘fourth trimester’ as a time of rest and recovery.
  • Find a Pelvic floor Physiotherapist and go for a 6 week postpartum check up.
  • Only consider binders and strapping once assessed and discussed with a professional.
  • Start with deep breathing exercises and gentle core/pelvic floor activations in a comfortable resting position.
  • Progressively increase gentle exercise as your body allows (walking).
  • Consult with a Pelvic physio prior to returning to your normal exercise regime.
  • Avoid jumping into a rigorous sit up regime in an attempt to resolve your RAD – you may be doing more harm than good.
  • Progress to a strong and dynamic transversus abdominis (TrA) and pelvic floor (PF)
  • Integrate TrA and PF into your training regime
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle (diet, hydration, exercise, relaxation) these factors impact the functionality of your ‘functional unit’ discussed in previous blogs.


Recovery is not about closing the gap, but rather about developing the ability to generate tension within the abdominal wall to allow for appropriate biomechanics during exercise and activities of daily living. This is not achieved through a generic ‘sit up’ routine but rather a personalised program where you are taught to effectively activate your abdominal muscles and incorporate this into an exercise regime.

It is therefore a really good idea to first see a physiotherapist trained in this specific condition. Fortunately, we have Candice Langford, our very own trained pelvic health/women’s health physiotherapist. Have questions or need an assessment, make an appointment with her today on 031 566 5959.


You can find Candice Langford on:





Although this advice and information is based on sound knowledge it is still followed at your own risk. I cannot take any responsibility for injuries or health conditions that may arise as a result of my advice. Videos and advice are generalised and cannot replace the individualised advice provided after a medical assessment by your local healthcare professional.


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