I quite often have women emailing me saying they still suffer from Diastasis Recti as “I still have a small gap in between my abs and can’t get it to close completely”. This is caused by one of the most common misunderstandings about Diastasis Recti and the abdominal muscles. And by that I mean that the abdominal muscles are directly next to each other.
The above is a picture of the mighty Jessica Ennis-Hill after winning Olympic Gold in London 2012. I think we can all agree she was in pretty good shape and her core was probably as strong as any human being can get it.
See how her abs are lined up in this picture? Now look at the vertical line between them. That space is about 8-13mm for most people and that’s completely normal.
What Diastasis Recti is not: When a lot of people think happens during pregnancy is that the stomach muscles physically split/rip and this is not quite correct. As you can tell from the above picture, there already is a gap between them. What happens is that the muscles move further apart from each other during pregnancy. Now I can talk all about how there’s a sheet and how that gets stretched when the muscles move further apart and that that’s why you can feel the gap more but that’s for another day.
When is Diastasis Recti actually fixed?
So now we know that the gap was already there, we also know that the gap/space will never completely close. It simply can’t. This means that DR is fixed/healed when your gap is back to (your) normal AND your core is functioning properly again. This means you should be in full control of all your core muscles and it should activate as and when required. Your body should be able to automatically respond to any sudden movement, lifting, change of balance, pressure applied to it etc. This means your core is then fully functioning again. This will also mean that, for most people, your stomach will be flat again. True you might have some excess skin, or fat, but your muscle structure is flat when your core is strong.
Now look at the same, even mightier, Mrs Ennis-Hill winning a silver at the Rio Olympics after giving birth. Her core is functioning as it should and you can see the muscle structure is back to where it was before she gave birth.
I love this picture. She’s in top shape. And yet, even she, has some excess skin and sagginess in the skin. This is one of my favourite pictures of a Post-Natal stomach, there is no photoshop bullshit and this shows you someone at the top of their game. She is in ridiculous shape here. If Jessica looks like this Post-Natal when competing at the very highest level, it’s OK for you to have a little gap and some saggy skin as well.
You can have a flat stomach but it’s important to be realistic and not get too obsessed by “the gap”.
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