Have you ever been tested for Diastasis Recti? No- its not some nasty parasite you picked up on spring break so many years ago. It is simply a separation of the connective tissue in your outermost abdominal muscle (the rectus abdominis) that you might have noticed in your second trimester of pregnancy.
The split in your connective tissue and widening gap between the two muscles are normal and serve to make room for a growing baby during pregnancy. However, the connective tissue and muscle fibers don't necessarily knit themselves back together after you deliver- at least not without some work on your part.
There are varying degrees of separation and if you aren't sure how separated your muscles are you can ask your Doctor or your Stroller Strides Instructor to test for you. You can keep your clothes on for this test- so it can be done right before or after class- just ask! A normal separation is somewhere between one and two finger-widths. If you have wider gap than normal you should avoid twisting motions and oblique crunches or any moves that make your tummy bulge out at the separation.
Here are some basic core strengthening exercises that Lisa Druxman, Stroller Strides Founder and CEO, recommends in her book, "Lean Mommy".
1. Cinch the Corset: Imagine you are wearing an old-fashioned corset. Tighten the corset to bring in your entire waistline- front, back, and sides. Breathe throughout the exercises. Hold and release.
2. Button your Belly Button: Imagine you are wearing a tight pair of jeans and you have to suck it in to get them on. Now button in your belly button or your pants will come open- breathe! Hold and release.
3. Splinted Crunch: Lie in a regular crunch position on your back on top of a towel or scarf. Wrap the ends around your belly so that you are cinching in your waistline. Draw in your abs and do a small crunch by lifting your head and shoulders, raising only to the point just before you see your abs bulge. Release and repeat.