What exercises can i do with a Diastasis Recti? Cardio? Sports? Abs? For Arms? Legs? Obliques?

So have you freaked out because you have a diastasis recti and don’t know what exercises you should do?

First, of COURSE, you should do the Tupler Technique® for at least 6 weeks WITHOUT other exercises.  This will adequately strengthen your trasnverse, start healing your connective tissue, AND close the gap without possibility (and PROBABILITY) of stalling your progress.

I did have one client who played soccer – she LOVED it.  Soccer is a fantastic sport – I have my own son in soccer.  However, the moves, dives, positions she would put her body into would compromise her diastasis recti, which was 4 [fingerwidths] on top, 4 in middle, and 3 on the bottom.  She progressed with me in 6 weeks only one fingerwidth of closure in the middle because her transverse was not strong enough to sustain the other movements she was doing.  Sad also because her “belly” was the last piece of the puzzle for her.

So lets talk about what you CAN do.  I have addressed this also somewhat HERE talking about planks, pilates and push ups, You also already know CRUNCHES are a joke and should be avoided at all cost, but there really is so much more to talk about!  Having read a couple forums and discussion boards I see this is a topic of concern.

Second you must SPLINT with the Diastasis Rehab® Splint while doing the following exercises or you will COMPROMISE your results.  I see it ALL the time!  Many of my clients who LOVE to run (which is NOT me) will run with their splints and the splints will get nasty and sweaty.  So they will get one for the sweaty stuff, and one to wear everywhere else.  
NOW lets say you have strengthened for the 6 weeks, your gap is closed or close to being closed, what next?
ARMS:  
  1. DYNA  BANDS: I LOVE dyna bands (also called resistance bands but WITHOUT the handles).   I do sitting exercises for arms with my clients with these and also standing ones.  
  2. WEIGHTS are ok.  They tend to be harder on their joints and you can readily change them as fast as you cant let out or bring in a band based on the ability of your trasnverse to stay AT THE 5th FLOOR THE ENTIRE TIME. 
  3. WORK ARMS DIFFERENTLY: When working arms I find it beneficial to see which arm of my clients is the weaker arm (usually but NOT always is the hand they don’t use as often).  To work the arms with the same weights in most cases just seems silly to me.  People tend to have better developed shoulders, biceps and forearms on the side of the hand  they use most.  So why work them the same?  Better to even them out then to end up with weird compensations in your body to make up for the unevenness. 
  4. SQUEEZE SHOULDERBLADES:  Also its important to make sure you do arm exercises that will not ROUND  your shoulders.  We women tend to have VERY rounded shoulders and horrible posture because of nursing, computer work, holding kids…  Exercises that will facilitate squeezing the shoulder blades together will be VERY beneficial for the postural element…which will help your whole appearance (and SAVE your back).
LEGS
  1. PILATES: This will surprise many based on my outspokenness on the pitfalls of Pilates, but SIDELYING pilates are for the most part pretty great!  I do avoid the scissors for the most part with sidelying as I find the transverse becomes disengaged quite easily.  The Windsor Pilates has some great sidelying options – just be ON GUARD of your transverse becoming disengaged…then you will know you should NOT be doing that one…skip to the next. (By the way – Joseph Pilates had a diastasis recti – I would estimate at about 4 fingerwidths.  There is a great picture we show at the workshops..)
  2. WEIGHTS with legs are fine AS LONG AS you can hold the transverse at the 5th floor.  If you can’t, cut the rep short, or do the reps with less weight.

AEROBICS
  1. RUNNING/WALKING:  It is FANTASTIC to be doing walking and running while doing the Tupler Technique, even in the 1st 6 weeks.  I put on my shape up shoes and walk with my hubby every chance I get – good for the body and the soul.  
  2. KICKBOXING beware – Many of these move need to be done only  AFTER the diastasis is closed.  However, there are SOME tweaks you can make – not punching ACROSS your body, but right in front will eliminate the danger or SHEARING your diastasis recti.  Kicks can be ok – just beware the ones that go from the left to the right side of your body – which will also cause shearing.  They are fine After you close the diastasis.  However, there are many kicks that stay on one side and these should be fine with your diastasis recti (as LONG AS your trasnverse can stay at the 5th floor).
  3. KARATE AND TAEKWONDO– I would say the same as above.  Most of the martial arts you will want to do AFTER you close your diastasis recti.
  4. STEP class GREAT!
  5. SPIN class GREAT!
  6. ZUMBA GREAT!
  7. AVOID THE ABS they do in these classes.
 YOGA 
  1. Yoga – mostly great. 
  2. Avoid the Chataranga or modify it by putting one knee on the ground. 
  3. Watch in the Triangle that you don’t let your transverse out of the 5th floor position.    
  4. Avoid the abs they do in those classes, and don’t get in and out of poses by jacknifing!


OBLIQUES
  1. Most the ones I see CPTs do with clients or in classes involve a side to side motion.  AVOID THOSE as they will shear the diastasis recti and make it bigger.
  2. You can lay on your side, body elongated and in a slight pike position, and do the Tupler Contractions from 5th to the 6th floor.  Make sure your waist is elevated.
SPORTS:

Basketball – great!  Beneficial to do more AFTER the first 6 weeks of the Tupler Technique® program.
Soccer – great! Beneficial to do more AFTER the first 6 weeks of the Tupler Technique® program.
Swimming – Beneficial to do more AFTER the first 6 weeks of the Tupler Technique® program.
Water aerobics – Beneficial to do more AFTER the first 6 weeks of the Tupler Technique® program. 
Tennis – WAIT UNITL AFTER the diastasis recti is closed!!  To much side to side shearing of the diastasis recti.
Baseball – great! Beneficial to do more AFTER the first 6 weeks of the Tupler Technique® program.
Golf-  WAIT UNITL AFTER the diastasis recti is closed!!  To much side to side shearing of the diastasis recti.

What other exercises do you have questions on doing with a diastasis recti or after you have closed it to avoid reopening? I’m ALL EARS!!

65 Responses to “What exercises can i do with a Diastasis Recti? Cardio? Sports? Abs? For Arms? Legs? Obliques?”

  1. CAT

    These are all wonderful exercises to do! A few questions and concerns I’d like to add are: some women carry their weight different than others i.e. hips, tummy, face, boobs…etc. A lot of times, performing cardio will help shed fat quicker in some areas than others. How can we go about with “toning” the tummy? Are the Tuplers the ‘only’ way to smooth out your midsection? I check my DR and the deeper i put my fingers it feels about a 3 finger gap. and if i dont place them too deep then its about 1 1/2… which is the correct measurement for my DR???

    -2: Can I wear a corset of girdle in replacement of a splint?

    thanks so much! I wished I lived near the chicago area! 🙁

    -mom-in-need- of -closing DR

    Reply
  2. Bonnie Wayne

    Hi CAT!

    Great questions!

    With “toning” the tummy – I recommend doing the seated tuplers and the headlifts. The headlifts you can do after strengthening the abdominals in the seated position first (for about 2 weeks). I also love the headlifts because they shortened the usually too-long recti as well as bring the recti in. Perfect for toning!

    With your diastasis recti measurement – I would definitely go with the deeper one. The pitfall I find that people do when they try to measure is they lift their head TOO HIGH! Make sure you are BARELY lifting your head off the ground (maybe 1/4 to 1/2 inch). You will get your accurate measurement when the muscles FIRST engage around the fingers.

    3. The purpose of the splint is the put the muscles in the correct position for closing the diastasis. They should go IN BETWEEN the bones of the pelvic and the ribs. Often corsets go over the bones. The other important thing about the splint is the ability to approximate the two halves of the recti so they can be properly strengthened. You can wear a corset or girdle OVER the splint though! That can produce great results as well.

    Reply
  3. Heather

    bonnie, what would the benefits be of wearing a corset or girdle over the splint? i’m not sure i really know what they do?

    my husband and i are in the process of trying to have our second child, and i didn’t know about ab exercises until months after my first. despite doing several months of exercises, i still have a lower belly pooch and haven’t been able to close my diastasis all the way. i was nursing my daughter for a while and was told this can have an effect, but not sure how much. she’s been weaned now for almost 4 months and i must admit i am having trouble keeping up my motivation to do any ab exercises when i don’t see/feel the difference. i guess i want to be prepared for the next pregnancy and post birth as i can be, as getting my body back has been quite a struggle!

    Reply
  4. Bonnie Wayne

    Hi Heather!

    The corset or girdle can keep the splint in place as can an abdominal binder. They will not put the muscles in proper alignment or approximate the recti as the splint can. If there is still relaxin in your body (within 6 mo of giving birth) the corset or girdle can also bring your ribs back in a little, but should again be worn OVER the splint, so the muscles and in correct alignment underneath WHILE you have a diastasis recti.

    Also, I might suggest a Skype session to get you headed in the right direction and make sure you technique is right. Email me at bonniewayne1177@hotmail.com if you are interested.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    What about elliptical? Is it similar enough to walking that it’s okay to do? I am in first six weeks of Tupler — can I elliptical? Can I do it unsplinted?

    Reply
    • Marcela

      I have DR, 3 fingers width, i want to do some butt excercises while healing the DR with Tuppler, can You recommend some?

      Reply
      • Bonnie Wayne

        Side lying glute exercises are great, whether yoga or Pilates. I personally like tying tthe resistance band around the knees and doing side lying leg and glute exercises. Also they bridge exercise, combined with hip circles are great as well.

        Reply
      • Bonnie Wayne

        Also in all the thigh and glute exercises it’s important to be able to hold the transverse at 5th floor during all the movements.

        Reply
  6. anna jo

    So should I be working out with the splint on? I’ve just barely started (though I am 3 months post partum). And I’m currently running and biking and swimming.

    Reply
  7. Bonnie Wayne

    Yes! Definitely work out with the splint on! But don’t worry about it for swimming.

    Also eliptical is great 🙂

    Reply
  8. jamaica

    I have been doing tupler since Jan. I still have a stubborn 2 fingers wide at belly button that will just not change. I do seated contractions and head lifts all day every day. My stomach is flat…. But it’s not enough to define my abs. What can I do safely that can help really define the abs!!??

    Reply
  9. Bonnie Wayne

    You will want to learn how to do HEADLIFTS – the Tupler Technique version of the crunch that does NOT lenghten the recti from the middle like regular crunches do. Headlifts -done either laying down or standing will SHORTEN the recti which is what you want to start the definition or ramp it up. I do SKype session with people who want to learn these.

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    Would you please review for me BeachBody Power90 and HipHopAbs?
    I also have an extra 40lbs to go,so was wondering about these.
    Also just by doing Tupler,will I get ripped abs?If not what else can I do to get there?I was also wondering about swimming,do I have to hold at 5th,that would be really tough i suppose.

    Reply
  11. Bonnie Wayne

    Hi Anonymous!

    You would need to describ me specific moves from both of the videos to give you a good answer. Cardio in general is a GREAT way to complement doing the tupler technique, as well as avoiding the 5 whites – white sugar, white flour, white pasta, white rice and white potatoes. The Tupler technique will help you get ripped abs – you bring the abs together and shorten them – the more you shorten the more you will get the 6 pack look. Swimming is great – just avoid the breaststroke as it splays the ribs. And you will want to be at 5th floor with swimming with belly breaths between laps.

    Reply
  12. Jill Meyer

    I recently realized that I have diastasis recti, and I am an avid runner. I purchased a splint and await its arrival. My question is, should I modify my stretches after the run? Is there any stretch I should NOT be doing?

    Reply
    • Oumar

      i had a c- section and i am 6 mhtnos pp. Unfortunately i didnt know i had diastis recti until recently, and i was doing pilates and ab workouts for a whole month!! i immediately stopped. My question is when testing yourself you life your head 1 inch of the ground while muscles are relaxed correct?? so are the muscles supposed to feel hard or a bit loose. mine feel loose and wen i put my fingers in they just move aside. Unless i am doing a full crunch then they get hard. so im a bit confused and dont know how big y diastis is. Is it normal for your ab muscles to feel soft when testing or are they supposed to be hard?

      Reply
  13. Anonymous

    I just found out that I have diastasis recti. I’m almost 11 months post-partum and 15 weeks pregnant with #2. I’m wondering if I would be able to prevent further worsening of the DR, particularly because I want to exercise again (mainly walking and spinning), with or without using any kind of splint on my growing belly.

    Reply
  14. Emily

    Thanks for the helpful post! What about cardio barre/ballet type movements?

    Reply
  15. Bonnie Wayne

    Jill – stretches should be fine.

    Bridget – squats and lunges are fine as LONG AS you can keep your transverse at the 5th floor while you do them.

    Anonymous – You CAN improve your DR while pregnant without a splint – it will just take longer.

    Emily – as for cardio barre – I would need a link to specific exercise questions. However, I believe most of those are ok AS LONG AS you can keep your transverse muscle at the 5th floor while you do them.

    A caveat – don’t do backbends – that will open the gap. Don’t do ANY of the abs they do in those classes if they include them.

    Reply
  16. Sara

    When may I start crossfit style exercises? Such exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, handstand push-ups, and planks.

    Crossfit also includes Olympic weightlifting, such as back squats, cleans, and snatches. When can I resume these?

    Finally, are kettle bell swings (overhead) and wall balls okay?

    Thanks.

    Reply
  17. Sara D.

    When may I begin Crossfit style exercises again? I am an avid crossfitter and love doing all the movements. Example movements include:

    1. push-ups
    2. pull-ups
    3. kettle bell swings
    4. Olympic weightlifting (back squats, cleans, push-press)
    5. Wall Balls
    6 Burpees

    Please help me!

    Reply
    • Toto

      Will this also help decrease a small pouch on lower aobmden ???? My daughter is 3 and I exercise and eat healthy, I’m 5 8 and 123 and can’t get rid of small pouch on lower aobmden, wondering if i need my abs sewn back together should I TTY this first bc i do have a small gap?!?!

      Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      push ups against wall are better, the other movements, you need to strengthen the transverse first and you might need to tweak some movements. I do Skype sessions for those who don’t have a licensee in their area (go to http://www.diastasisrehab.com to see if there is a licensee in your area). You can contact me for details 🙂

      Reply
  18. Julieta

    Hi! Thank you so much for such an informative site. This is so helpful. Is doing (wall-assisted) handstands contraindicated when you have DR?

    Cheers!

    Julieta

    Reply
  19. Louise

    I’m currently breastfeeding my 16 week daughter and have a 4 finger gap. Will breastfeeding hinder the healing process due to relaxing that is still present in my body? Also I have a horse. Will horse riding widen the gap?

    Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      No! It’s a great time to “put yourself back together”. Horse riding will be fine as long as you keep your transverse at 5th floor while riding, and while mounting and dismounting.

      Reply
  20. Rachael

    Hi,

    I was wondering if you can do spin class in the first 6 weeks of the tiller program? Or should all exercise be avoided in the first 6 weeks?

    Also what’s your view on planks on the knees?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      Spin class is generally fine. just make sure not to round the shoulders while on the spin bike. We try to undo that with the Tupler Technique.

      I love modified side lying planks on one knee.

      Reply
  21. Rachael

    Ok and it’s fine in the first 6 weeks? As I read somewhere to just do tupler in the first 6 weeks. Also what about front facing planks on the knees?

    Reply
  22. Irene

    Hello.
    My measurement has reduced from 5-7-4 to 3-5-3 and are less deep.
    However, it seems that the gap has remained the same for some time now. Though I do the exercise there has been no change for a couple of months now.
    I have a belly button hernia, but at the same time very strong muscles that support the abdominal very well.
    Do you have any exercise to suggest that may further close the gap? Can I go swimming (breast stokes)?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      The Seated Tupler Contractions are ALWAYS going to give you the greatest mileage out of any exercises for your diastasis. 5 to 10 sets per day, if the technique is right, holding the transverse to the spine at the 5th floor for the work part of everything you do, and if you have correct body mechanics (getting up and down correctly) avoid the prohibited movements, wear the splint if needed (for your measurements, it would be needed) then it can close right up.

      Swimming is great EXCEPT for breast stroke, butterfly and backstroke, as these pull at the connective tissue we are trying to heal by flaring the ribs out.

      Reply
  23. Rachael

    At what measurements is the splint not needed? I am the worst around my belly button which is 2 finger widths.

    Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      I recommend a splint for 3 fingerwidths and above, unless you have a poor mind body connection with your transverse muscle, in which case I find a splint can help.

      When you measure make sure you don’t give yourself a false reading by lifting your head too high. That can change your true measurement by up to 3 fingerwidths! You want to lift your head BARELY off the ground – 1/4 to 1/2 inch only.

      Reply
  24. Kat fetter

    I loved doing the winsor pilates for bun and thigh but then got pregnant and resulted in a DR. Can I still do those with a DR??

    Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      The side lying pilates exercises on that video are great. Just don’t do the back-lying exercises and those become more precarious and have to be very carefully modified. When do side lying pilates, make sure you keep your transverse at the 5th floor at all times!

      Reply
  25. Nada

    Hope I’m not too late to ask :$

    I’m hoping to build my lower body so can I do squats and lunges ? And can I use weights and ankle bands ?

    Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      You will want to strengthen the transverse first so you can hold it at the 5th floor WHILE doing squats and lunges. AFter strengthening for several weeks – 4 + weeks – then you should be strong enough in the transverse to introduce weights and angkle bands. IF your transverse comes out, that tells you that the transverse should be strengthened more first before do more of that partciular exercise or movement.

      Reply
  26. Mili

    Is hula hooping safe to do? It’s been over 2 years since I gave birth and I have only just realised I have this condition. Do I still need a splint? I think my gap is 3 fingers.

    Reply
  27. Anonymus- Spain

    Hello. I am Spanish and I’m pregnant (26 weeks pregnancy). I have a diastasis (like 3 or 4 fingers). I use to do crawl swimming. Can I go on doing it?? On the other hand, can I swim backstroke? Thank yo so much in advance!!

    Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      Yes for the crawl! The backstroke not as good as it causes some rib splaying which can widen the diastasis.

      Reply
  28. Anonymus- Spain

    And thanks for giving us HOPE and showing us what we can do to correct diastasis! In Spain no one knows much about it.

    Reply
  29. sophie

    i have a gap of 1 finger width and it has been for months and im doing all the exercises and its not closing? its 1 finger width fully contracted,but here you say only lift your head a little off the ground for a true reading of how bad it is,but its only 1 finger width when i lift my head fully off ground,is it okay to do normal exercises or?

    Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      What measurement do you get in all three areas of the belly ( at the belly button, 3 inches above, 3 inches below) when barely lifting up the head? That will give you much more accurate information. No one walks around with their head down to the chest with their abs contracted, just to illustrate why it will not really give you accurate info. If you truly want the correct measurement you want to feel when the muscles FIRST engage around the fingers. Usually this is 1/4″ to 1/2″ off the floor.

      Reply
  30. JR

    Hi, I am 3 months pp and have appx. 2 finger width DR. I was doing a lot of the Tracy Anderson programs, especially the leg parts. Have you ever reviewed her movements? Would you suggest whether those leg movements are ok to do, e.g. standing leg lifting and leg lifting on all fours. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      Hi JR, I have not watched her videos to comment. But just as a rule of thumb – exercises on all fours is NOT recommended with a diastasis, because all of the weight of those internal organs and right on the connective tissue we are trying to heal. It forestalls the progress and can make the diastasis worse. Sidelying leg and glute exercises are great – those are what I recommend. Also, standing exercises can be good with the legs AS LONG AS the transverse can be held all the way back at 5th floor the entire time during the exercise. If not, then the transverse is not strong enough to support the movement.

      Reply
  31. Priti P.

    Hello, I had my second child 2.5 yrs ago. My tummy wasn’t bad before when she was younger. I noticed it getting worse. I didn’t learn about DR until 3 weeks ago. I may have damaged it more. I was doing all the things you stated that shouldn’t be done (sit-ups, cruches, kick boxing) I have a 3-4 finger gap. I carried my second in my belly. I gained 60 lbs with her. I was at 117 but have been gaining weight and not able to loose the belly. I am at 128 right now. I can’t seem to get the weight off no matter what I do. I changed my diet and stopped doing the damaging exercises. Please help me. I live in Chicago. I am desperate.

    Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      Hi Priti – I would strongly suggest taking the 3 part workshop I have coming up in March (March 12, 26 and April 9) @ 9 AM at Cornish Chiropractic in Yorkville, IL. As of today, I have 2 spots still available for that. Sign up is here on the site under “store” tab under workshops, or on the home page via the paypal button. You can also do private training which I do out of Yorkville as well – look under “private training” tab for more details. Also if you want to try the program on your own, you can purchase the Splint, DVD and guidebook on this site under the “store” tab – and scroll down until you come to the “Women’s Package Sale” for that.
      If you want more info you can email me at bonniewayne1177@hotmail.com 🙂

      Reply
  32. Lelanie

    Hi- I’ve had my second child 3 years ago but only recently heard about DR. I suspect that I have had DR ever since my first baby, she is now turning 8. I didnt know there was something called DR. I’ve been training really hard right through and after both pregnancies. I did a crazy amount of ab exercises to flatten my tummy. Even been training with a personal trainer for many years, I am a exercise “freak”. But obviously had no luck to flatten my tummy. So then I decided to do some research on what the problem could be. Shockingly I then discovered this thing called DR. I was actually furious because through all these years of training like a mad woman, not even one of the trainers knew about DR and made my problem worse. Since I’ve discovered my problem, I’ve stopped training completely and I’m only doing the recovery training for DR. I have closed my cap from 4 fingers to 3 in the middle and 2 fingers top and bottom. My question is: Will I ever be able to close my gap completely after all the damage I’ve done through training all the years? And if not, will I have to do this modified exercises for ever?

    Reply
    • Bonnie Wayne

      Congrats on your progress thus far!
      And ABSOLUTELY! There is no statute of limitations. But I WOULD continue to modify exercises as you can actually CAUSE a diastasis with things like crunches, mountain climbers, pilates 100s. The fitness world just hasn’t caught up with the progress made on the ab forfront of things. But with enough people making other trainers aware, it will change and shape what is provided and how.
      Email me if you want to do any private Skype sessions and I can give you info on that. Go to “contact me” on the site 🙂

      Reply
  33. Milena

    Hi! I am interested if Kangoo jump exercises are good or bad for DR. I was pregnant with twins, and I passed a very complicated stomach surgery during my pregnancy. I played Kangoo jumps, step aerobics and spinning a lot both before and after the pregnancy. Right now, 8 months after giving a birth I realized that I have DR. And probably I have to change my exercises completely. Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Reply
  34. ali

    I have 1.5 finger width, has never been too much more than this but 4 years later and I still can’t get it closed and still have a mummy tummy. I’ve tried loads of breathing exercises, lying fish exercises, etc. At this small width would the splint work to close it? Can I do normal abs and crunches at this stage too (different trainers and physios have been been telling me different advice for years) or when is it that I can do them?

    Reply
  35. Liz

    I know you said spin is okay, and I assume that road biking would be too. What about mountain biking?

    Reply
  36. Lena

    Hi,
    I have diastasis (about two fingers’ with), and would like to know: how safe/dangerous is ballet? I know most excercises engage your core in a good way, but what about arabesques (lifting you leg behind you as high as you can, bending your torso forwards when your leg has reached its highest point). I already know backbends are bad, so I suppose ‘cambrés’ (upper body bending backwards) is a no no. And is it okay to do these exercises once the diastasis has ‘healed’? The thought of having to give up dancing make me sad…

    Thank you,
    Lena

    Reply
  37. Tahtee

    Is glute bridges and heel drags while laying on the back or inner/outer leg lifts okay for DR?

    Reply
  38. Sarah

    Hi, I had my baby 25 years ago, and have a small diastasis recti (about two fingers only belly button and below, and just one finger above the belly button) would swimming breast stroke be ok for me? and how about side stroke (its kind of like a gentle breast stroke with one arm stretched out in front and the other doing more or the balancing work, while the legs do a frog kick. Also, what does splaying the ribs do exactly? How is this problematic? Is it because it lengthens the Rectus Abdominus too much – or what else? thanks for your info. it’s very helpful

    Reply

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