Can I exercise with a diastasis recti?

A diastasis recti is a normal adaptation that occurs during later pregnancy to make room for a growing baby. The separation occurs between the two sides of the rectus abdominis (“six-pack” muscles). For some women, this separation will heal on its own within a few months postpartum. For many others, the separation will persist for years following delivery. 

A diastasis is often most noticeable during activities that cause an increase in pressure at the abdomen. Doing things like sitting up out of bed or a chair, coughing/laughing/sneezing and doing ab exercises can cause a “coning” along the midline of the abdomen, depending on the location of your specific separation. While getting rid of a diastasis is not always a realistic goal, learning to properly control pressure to reduce coning is possible and necessary. Standard core exercises like sit-ups and crunches are not necessarily off limits. It all depends on the individual person’s ability to manage pressure. 

A great starting point in diastasis rehab is learning how to use your breathing to manage pressure. You want to avoid holding your breath during challenging activities and, if possible, exhale throughout a difficult task (when you normally notice coning) to take further pressure off of the abdomen.

Learning to manage a diastasis can take a long time, but with the proper rehab program it becomes easier to get back to your preferred activities without the fear of coning or making the diastasis worse. Interested in seeing if physical therapy can help you with your diastasis recti? Reach out to us at Resolve to set up a free consultation by calling or texting 845-769-7777 or going to our website at

Dr. Jaclyn McCullough, PT

Physical Therapist

Resolve Physical Therapy

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Resolve Physical Therapy helps youth and adult athletes in the Hudson Valley stay active and pain free. If you have a body, you’re an athlete. We help youth athletes, weekend warriors, Cross-Fitters, runners, complex cases, and busy people get back to doing what they love. This is not your typical physical therapy clinic.

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