Diastasis Recti and Pilates

Pilates, Blog, Pregnancy, / By Koh Peh Chia

We all understand that pregnancy can cause many interesting changes in a woman’s body. Some moms may have a ‘mummy tummy’ or ‘post-baby pooch’ which makes them look like they are still pregnant. If you are experiencing this issue, this article may be beneficial for you. We are going to discuss Diastasis recti and how Pilates can help.

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis Recti is a separation of the Rectus Abdominis muscle. The rectus abdominis muscles are located side by side from the ribs down to the pubic area. They are held together by a band of connective tissue (Linea alba). During pregnancy, linea alba gets stretched and allows the  rectus abdominis muscles to spread apart to make a gap for the growing baby. For some women, the gap will gradually recover and back to normal in the months after giving birth. However, in many cases the gap will get widened and remain separated after giving birth and so on. This is diastasis recti.

Sign and Symptoms

  • A bulge or dome on tummy or mummy tummy
  • still look pregnant a year or more after giving birth 
  • a protruding belly during exercise, especially engage abs (sit up)
  • lower back pain
  • stress incontinence
  • digestive disorders
  • hernia

Self-check for Diastasis Recti

Doctor or healthcare provider can diagnose diastasis recti with a physical exam.  However you can do a self check at home in the meantime. 

1.Iie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. 

2.Press on your tummy gently with your fingers just above the belly button, and lift your chin towards your chest. 

3.Feel for the edges of your ab muscles. 

4.If you can fit two or more fingers in between the muscles, you likely have some degree of diastasis recti.

Can Pilates help? How?

Yes, Pilates is good for Diastasis recti. Pilates focuses on engagement of the core stabiliser muscles which consists of the diaphragm, transverse abdominis, pelvic floor muscles and multifidus. Instead of working on rectus abdominis muscle, Pilates can specifically train the core stabilizer muscle to prevent overstretch of rectus abdominis muscle.

What Pilates Exercises can I do?

Pilates is a low impact exercise which can target the core stabilizer very well. Thus it is safe to do Pilates for improving Diastasis Recti Abdominis. Below are some recommended exercises for Diastasis Recti Abdominis. 


  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the mat and place yo1. ur hands around your waistline.
  2. Take a deep inhale through your nose, then exhale through your mouth in pursed lips.
  3. Try to engage your transverse abdominis by gently zipping your ribcage and your pelvis.
  4. Feel your umbilicus is drawing in.
  5. Do this a few times and feel your muscles engaged.

Kegel exercise

A kegel exercise is an excellent way to engage our pelvic floor muscles and transversus abdominus. Gently lift your pelvic floor muscle towards your belly button.Breathe normally and hold for a few seconds. Try to practise this during workout and as many as you can

Heel Slide

1. Start by lying flat on your back, hands on your hip bones, knees bent, feet flat to the mat, hip-distance apart.

2. Inhale as you stretch one leg out on the mat

3. exhale to engage the abdominals and use the abdominals to slide the leg in slowly by dragging your heel along the mat. 

4. Alternate sides repeating 5 or so on each side

All the exercises are advised to do as you tolerated. If you have any doubt or issue during your workout, feel free to contact us for telephysio. Also, check out our instagram page for more useful tips and videos.