Diastasis Recti and Pilates


Diastasis Recti can be both helped or worsened with Pilates. Here's how Pilates can help.

Diastasis Recti as defined by the NIH:

Diastasis recti is a separation between the left and right side of the rectus abdominis muscle, which covers the front surface of the belly area.

Most diastasis is seen in pregnant women, where the muscle separates as the woman's belly expands. I have also seen it in men after abdominal surgeries.

But at the moment I am working with many women who worsened their diastasis through improper exercise techniques during and after pregnancy.

Basically, it is crucial that the transverse abdominis and pelvic floor muscles be strengthened to help hold everything together. The rectus will typically also start to pull back together. Sometimes it will stay, and sometimes need to be sewn.

Diastasis is typically measured in "fingers" - literally how many fingers will fit in between the two muscle halves. I have personally worked with women who have had between four finger and ten finger diastasis with great success.

In terms of exercise, the approach to both diastasis prevention and diastasis repair are similar.

During and after pregnancy, until everything is working properly, avoid exercises that cause an increase in abdominal pressure that will push against the abdominal wall:

  • traditional crunches
  • overhead presses
  • heavy weight lifting
  • intense abdominal exercises (in Pilates this would mean ab series, teaser, backstroke, short box, etc.)

If the muscle has already separated, it can be helpful to wear an elastic abdominal brace to physically hold the muscles together (which is what we visualize while doing exercises).

I encourage people who have a diastasis to try Pilates to strengthen your internal abdominal brace. Please make sure that your teachers are familiar with what diastasis recti is and how to properly manage it. If they ask you to do the hundred with your head up first thing, you are in the wrong place.

If you hear more about breathing, pulling "in and up", and not bulging at your abs, you are in the right place.

Remember that even if you do require surgery to repair the separation, proper abdominal and strength training will help you maintain your abdominal corset of support after.

As an illustration, a new client came in to see me about 6 months ago with a four finger diastasis after her second pregnancy. She had been seeing a personal trainer at her gym, who was giving her crunches and overhead presses to build up strength. Unfortunately, this made the diastasis worse.

It had been about a year, and her OB wanted her to see a surgeon for repair.

After just a few months of steady, twice a week Pilates sessions, she went to the surgeon. He told her there "was nothing to repair." Success! Just proper Pilates training.

If you live in NYC and have a diastasis recti that you would like some help with, please contact me directly. If you live downtown, you can also come see me at Real Pilates.

Seriously, I can help you!

Book Review: Unjunk Your Junk Food


As an educated, junk food eating consumer, you must have this book.

Andrea Domsky and Randy Boyer, founders of, have outdone themselves with their handy reference book, Unjunk Your Junk Food. Seriously, I was not expecting to love this little book as much as I do.

Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks

I now look at it every few days to check out healthier alternatives to my favorite packaged junk foods. Every alternative has been taste tested by people who love the original version, so everything is good and will pass muster with friends and family.

And in addition to the food items, Unjunk Your Junk Food is packed full of recipes, definitions of hard to pronounce ingredients, and the actual negative side effects of eating the preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and flavor enhancers packed into most conventional junk foods.

Love Klondike Bars but would like your ice cream free of polysorbate 80 (an emulsifier linked to cancer), artificial flavors, and high fructose corn syrup? Try Julie's Organic Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Many of my personal favorite natural brands are represented, including Kettle Brand Potato Chips, Brad's Chocolate Chip Cookies and Oatmeal Cookies (so good!), and even the conventional Breyer's Ice Cream.

There is a tear out list of the worst offender ingredients, as well as a detailed glossary defining each along with side effects.

Stop wasting money on bad natural alternatives for the junk food you crave, They don't satisfy the craving anyway!

With this guide you know you are buying an alternative that will satisfy that craving and give you the satisfaction of knowing that you are feeding yourself and your family healthy food. Highly recommended!

Reiki During Pregnancy

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

This morning a 4 1/2 month pregnant woman came to my Beach Pilates class with her husband, and I had to unfortunately turn her away. While Pilates can be great for pregnant women, and I have personally taught women up until the day they went into labor, the mat is not as most exercises involve lying on your back using the abs or lying on your stomach, neither of which is a good idea after the first trimester.

Many people have asked me about Reiki and whether Reiki is safe for pregnant women, and that I answer with an emphatic "Yes!". Reiki will help both mother and child to relax, stay healthy, and be in less discomfort. It is good for all involved!

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Tags: pilates, reiki, pregnancy