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Hope for When That Diastasis Recti Will NOT Close!

It is an amazing time to be a core fitness specialist ministering to the muscular core needs of women with this website right here that provides TummySafe Fitness. With news being spread about diastasis recti being fixable for most without surgery, more research being done, more case studies documented, well, here at Fit2B we are so blessed to be in the vortex surrounded by amazing colleagues doing a lot of that work!

Yet one of the biggest questions from people trying to fix their bellies always circles back to when that diastasis recti will not close {or the one that is narrowing slower than we wish it would} or just a belly that’s not responding in general to whatever you’re doing to flatten or firm it.

I’ve been there, and if you’ve ever plateaued in your struggle to narrow your diastasis recti (DR) gap or just tone your tummy in general, you’ve been in this sweet lady’s exact same shoes. She wrote…

Some days I’m like, “yay my tummy feels and looks like its getting somewhere” then other days I’m like “Are you kidding me? It looks the same, its DR measures the same, and when I sit down it all pooches up and looks like I’ve never done an abdominal workout in my life!”. aahhhh! I feel strong and capable but is there ever going to be a day when it looks flat without me having to do a full tummy breath and zip it all up….sorry just having a bad week 🙁 I don’t have much to complain about compared to others but I’m a high achiever by nature. And all I see when I’m sitting and laying down is this big sunken hole in the middle of my belly 🙁 I feel like it won’t matter how many exercises i do for how long…this is it, this is the best it’s going to be.” -Jessica C.

We wonder when the exercises and the attention to alignment will finally pay off.We can’t wait to gently press our fingers in AND NOT be able to press our fingers in past knuckle depth. We wonder when that happy moment will come when we go to do our bi-monthly check {no, you should not be poking around in your tummy every day, friends – twice a month is plenty} and finally discover that our linea alba feesl a lot less like the Grand Canyon and a lot more like the dip between two knuckles.

Dear Mom, I know you are upset with the way your belly looks and feels...but there is HOPE - Fit2b.us

 

Well, the interesting, hope-filled fact that I want to center this whole article on is that – like many things in this beautiful life – size isn’t nearly as important as strength. Indeed, when you first learned about diastasis recti, you might have fixated on the size of your DR and it’s frequent {not always} relationship with the distension of your stomach. And then you might have fixated on the concept of closing one to flatten the other, thinking that “closed” means no gap at all.

However, did you know that a 1 finger-width (FW) gap is considered “closed” since there will always be a firm little dip around your umbilicus? Ideally the dip down the middle of your abs near your navel should feel like the space between two knuckles on the back of your hand, and it should feel like the end of your nose up between your ribs and near your pubis.

It’s not the size of your gap that matters, so much as the strength of it.

Just like the scale on which you weigh yourself {that indicates I am obese on the BMI scale because muscle weighs more than fat, and I’m all – cough – muscle} numbers are stupid. It’s more about how your feel and function and fit into your favorite pants than it is about width or weight.

Like Carolyne Anthony of The Center For Women’s Fitness said in this post on her Facebook page, “When we look at photos of men and women with very bulky musculature, we sometimes assume that the gap between the recti muscles is diastasis… If the fascia is healthy and springy to the touch, there is nothing to worry about. NOT EVERY GAP IS DIASTASIS RECTI.”

CUE THE SOUNDS OF EXPLODING BRAINS … BUT HANG WITH ME 

My gap is totally narrowed and healed from ribs to pubis. It’s been that way for a long time, but the journey didn’t happen overnight. People, let me tell you, I know from a deep personal place how obsessing about getting a diastasis recti down to that certain “1FW” width can lead to a bad case of the crazies. I also know that “closed” isn’t always necessary to regain stability, function, painlessness, continence, and a flatter tummy.

Read my rehab story here {click} 

Join me for the workouts that help me stay healed here {click}

Meanwhile, please understand that more and more core experts are calling for better language to describe the difference between a normal dip and a diastasis recti where the abs have shifted apart to an unhealthy degree.

For example, if you have a functional core with no leaking issues or prolapse, and no back pain, and your 2-FW diastasis resists the press of your fingers with fascia that has rethickened nicely, your physical therapist may not call that a diastasis to worry about and may not have you focus on it very much. Meanwhile, someone with a 2-FW diastasis that allows her to press in up to the 3rd knuckle, and who is also dealing with incontinence, back pain, poor posture, and anxiety will have more homework and more recovery time ahead of her.

In her article here, Lorraine Scapens, one of our professional contributors to “Experts on Diastasis Recti” from New Zealand where she’s the founder of Turningbaby.com and Pregnancy Exercise, addressed how a DRA doesn’t always need to close completely for a woman {or man} to get his/her life back.

“Up until recently we would often advocate that full closure is necessary as we know that this is best for optimal function, but some women can function without pain, leaking or poor posture when a DR remains so it becomes necessary to assess each person individually.” -Lorraine Scapens, Founder of Pregnancy Exercise & TurningBaby.com

Wendy of MuTu System has also written to our mindset regarding a diastasis recti that hasn’t yet closed, addressing it head-on in Lesson Ten of our Experts on Diastasis Recti eCourse {here}.

Does this mean we settle for a 2FW separation that’s hit a plateau? Do we call “game over” and quit thinking about our alignment, breath-based movements, and go back to doing crunches?

No, not at allComplete closure is possible, and I believe we should keep working toward that 1-FW for optimal abdominal integrity. But if your core has hit a plateau, and you know there’s more you could do, but you’re not sure what because you’re already doing the TummySafe Fitness and the walking and the breathing and, and, and AHHhhhhh!! Well, keep reading because I have some expert suggestions:

First, what you need to do is pat yourself on the back if you’re aware and working on it.

You’ve established those healthy patterns and come this far. You need to trust your core to keep healing quietly behind the scenes as you continue to focus on caring for yourselves and those around you. We have to give the healing time and remember it’s less about the gap itself and more about the fascia that holds the two sides of our abs together.

Long thought to be unfixable without surgery to stitch it closed manually {a major thing to recover from in and of itself} we now know that the connective tissue of your linea alba does regain tension, does regenerate, and it definitely does re-thicken if stimulated consistently by the appropriate mechanics and chemistry. But it takes time.

Second, you need to take a closer {non-obsessive} look at your environment, mechanics and personal chemistry.

The quality of your fascia is affected by the quality of your chemistry, mechanics and environment. In other words, the quality of your core is directly related to your hormones and how you’re eating, plus the quality of your motions and your habitat or home.

To be blunt, if you’re doing all the right exercises for diastasis recti, but the blasted thing won’t shut, you’ve got to give yourself some grace while you examine what you eat, what your wonky hormones might be doing, and how your life is set up outside of your workout program. Those all have a greater affect on your fascia because we do them more than we do our 15-20 minutes of “ab work.”

NOTE: This blog is the 2nd installment in what has become known as “The Unclosed Core” series which has 3 more blogs that go into the specifics of those last two paragraphs. Be sure you read “Part II: How Chemistry Affects Your Diastasis Recti” where I will brought an herbalist and physical therapist to the table to discuss how hormones and herbs impact your fascia. You may also want to go back and read the first unclosed core blog: “Giving Diastasis Recti Time to Heal.”

P.S. What about that lady, Jessica, who was so frustrated up there in that quote at the start of this article? Well, it’s funny you ask, because she really did heal. It took time. But she did it, and she blogged about it here.

32 thoughts on “Hope for When That Diastasis Recti Will NOT Close!

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  10. carisa b says:

    It’s really not right to mislead women and give them false hope just to make a profit. There are countless physical therapists that have proven that excercise can prevent the abs from separating more than they already have but excercise canNOT correct already separated abs to any significant extent. We, as women, are suffering enough. Please get rid of your false messages. It’s wrong what you’re doing.

    • Beth Learn
      Beth Learn says:

      I’m so sad that you have suffered and have been led to believe that corrective, restorative motions and exercises can’t help. However, we aren’t promoting anything false. I know countless physical therapists who have designed excellent programs with nourishing exercises that do indeed narrow the gap and restore tension the thinned-out fascia, and Fit2B works directly with several of them to provide fitness programming that builds on their programs so that when their clients are done with rehab, they can resume fitness without worry of undoing their work while continuing to narrow. It’s a journey for sure. It takes time and consistency. Rarely, surgery is still required. But I have clients go from 5-8cm gaps to 1-2 cm all the time, making successful returns to the physical activities they love after using Fit2B. I’m not a fan of DR fitness programs that shout around about “6 weeks to healing.” That is indeed false. We don’t do that. We are here to provide a massive library of home fitness routines that build on the foundation of rehab, and most of our clients utilize us for 4 months to 4 years. The testimonies we get from clients around the world in 30+ countries show our track record. If you’d like to check out an excellent core rehab program, please visit thetummyteam.com … As for turning a profit, I am blessed to make a living doing what I love, but I often spend more than I make in a given month! This website’s overhead is thousands per month, and I wouldn’t have kept it running for 7 straight years if it didn’t work and I didn’t believe in and see results from what I’m doing. I live in a modest farmhouse and often work more than 45+ hours per week. This business supports three other women with part-time incomes. We are family-owned and operated. We invest back in our business and community, doing our best to reach more women with workouts that work for them. I’m sorry you feel misled by others, but I’d encourage you to give our workouts a try. We’re radically different, very gentle, very progressive, and – most of all – very encouraging. I hope you have a lovely day.

    • Alexandria Phillips says:

      I can promise you that Beth is not misleading. She is one of the most supportive and gentle women. I have been using fit2b for 4 years. I managed to close my DR after my third baby and was able to do gentle exercises during my 4th pregnancy. I am almost 8 months pp and have closed my DR again with Beth’s help. I have never experienced gentle yet effective exercises the way Beth does them and it has reshaped my whole concept of exercise. (I even managed to close my DR with severe PPD this time around and not actually having the energy to do many exercises. I have just been using my core the way that Beth taught me to). 🙂

    • Danika says:

      I’ve totally closed my DR from a 4+ finger width separation to a 1 finger width separation with the help of a physical therapist and Fit2be. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

    • Megan L. says:

      Oh Carisa, I’m so sorry that you’ve been misled just as I was for so many years. I dealt with severe DR for 8 years, was told by so many that it was normal, part of life, and only reparable by surgery before finding Fit2B just over a year ago. I make no money on Fit2B and have NOTHING to gain by posting this. Fit2B is legit. I wrote about my personal story last fall, and it has only gotten better since then. I went from a DR that was 6″ long and 3-4 fingers wide above my navel and stretched down to 3″ and 2-3 fingers wide below the navel when I started almost exactly a year ago, to now only a small, 2FW DR just above my navel. Fit2B is ALL I have done. Not only that, but my pelvic floor weakness has improved so much, I used to not be able to power walk with my children without extreme soreness and aching in my pelvic floor, and now I ran a 5k last November and am training for a 10k in September. This is ALL because of Fit2B. This is REAL, and it is science. Again- I’m not an employee, I was not reimbursed in any way for this post nor my blog about my progress. I’m just a mom of 6 who suffered for almost a decade before Fit2B literally changed my life, starting with my health and strength. http://creatingessence.blogspot.com/2016/10/i-dont-know-how-you-do-it.html?m=1

    • Nikki schumacher says:

      Love to you mama! I used to feel the same way and then I found fit2be and the tummy team. I am able to walk again without excruciating pain after 4.5 years of battling chronic pain when I was due to weak core and pelvic issues. I am feeling amazing because of the info I found here! The fact that my tummy is nearly flat after 3 pregnancies is just icing. I hope you find the help you need!

    • Katheen V. says:

      Um. Someone forgot to tell me it wasn’t possible because I corrected my 9 finger separation down to a 2 finger separation and fully expect to be able to close it. And you don’t have to spend a bunch of money to do it. Most of my separation was closed using techniques I got from a Tupler book I got used at the thrift store. I do love the tummy safe exercise options available here and find them totally worth the cost of a membership. If your PT told you it wasn’t possible to close an abdominal separation, then I’d look for a different PT. Nit all PT’s are trained to work with abdominal separation.

      • Liz says:

        Carisa, I hope you take these comments to heart. You’ve had the fortune of stumbling across what I have observed to be an incredibly kind and compassionate community of women. Beth is responsive, helpful, and her workout videos do work, as many women have already attested. I’ll add my voice that I’ve been able to reduce my DR significantly, and all within my second child’s first year of life, because I was lucky enough to find and join the Fit2B community.

    • Jenny F says:

      My body has been forever changed for the positive from finding Fit2B (not to mention my mental health!!) When I started, I had over a 5 finger, deep diastasis recti from carrying my twins to 38 weeks 3 days… and now, well thanks to some serious hard work, consistency, and taking collagen (check out Beth’s blog on the how + why, you’ll be glad you did!!) I am proud to say it is a shallow 2. So for anyone out there doubting that you can heal your diastasis without surgery, I am a work in progress who is PROOF that if you have the right teacher like Beth, you CAN accomplish that goal!! Beth is on top of the latest research, and I fully trust her recommendations for this reason. And an icing on the cake reason that I trust Beth as I heal my core? She has healed her core, too. She has walked this road and come out on the other side, stronger and able to fully live her best life! 🙂

    • Emily says:

      Oh Carisa, you have been greatly misled, just as I was for so long…and I have a BS in nutrition and exercise science! My body, my journey and my stomach are proof that what Beth teaches is not a lie. After carrying my second I had no idea the severity of what was going on with my stomach. Turns out it was a 6 finger wide and very deep diastasis which split me from ribs to pubic bone. I went from an incredibly active fitness instructor, half marathon running woman to someone who was broken and confused. I had doctors telling me my weird stomach was due to having kids and nothing except surgery could fix it and that would have to wait until I was done having children. I thank God everyday I found Beth. She taught me so much about what I could do to heal my body. Did it happen in a week? Did it happen in 3 months? No, but with the CORRECT education and a commitment to moving my body everyday the way it was designed to move (not the way society and technology has taught us to move) I did heal. My gap closed completely above my navel and was (I’m pregnant right now 🙂 a 2 at my navel and 1.5 below. I have since competed and placed in 2 triathlons, ran several races, hiked, swam with the US Masters and more. My journey consisted of Beth’s workouts, physical therapy with The Tummy Team, a whole lot of paying attention to how I move throughout my daily life (Katy Bowman has an excellent blog and many books on this), and most importantly avoiding movements and exercises that make diastasis worse. Now that I’m expecting again I’m starting to realize even more how broken I was with my 2nd pregnancy. I’m so much stronger this time (no back pain!!!!!!!!!!!) and while my separation is coming back a bit I have FULL confidence that I know how to keep my belly strong throughout the pregnancy and birth, but I also know how to allow my body to heal and reconnect with my core after baby. Will I be completely healed after 6 weeks? No, but I’m ok with that because quite honestly that’s very unrealistic for anyone. I’ll keep happily journeying along knowing I finally have the correct information about how to truly strengthen and heal my core. Thank you Beth and team for all you do and good luck to you, Carisa, I hope you find what you’re looking for!

    • Emily says:

      This is totally not a false message. I was several months postpartum (2nd child) and still looked 5 months pregnant. I thought I had to live with it. Then I spent what felt like a ton of money on family pictures and I hated them. The photographer did a great job, but I couldn’t ignore my excessively protruding tummy and decided something had to be done. I was vaguely aware that there was something called diastasis recti so I started researching. I found The Tummy Team and Fit2b. When I started my DR was 8+ fingers wide and deep all over. I could feel organs and pulsing and it grossed me out. After a few months of eating well, splinting, and doing the Tummy Team Core Foundation exercises, it had closed to 3 fingers and was about medium depth. Now I do Fit2B. My DR is currently less than 2 fingers and shallow at the top and bottom, medium in the middle. The last part is going slower, but I now know if I do the work, I’ll eventually close it all the way. These exercises work. It takes time, but the end result is amazing.

    • Sarah says:

      Im sorry you’re dealing with the pain both emotionally and physically of dr. Mine has closed from 3 finger to 1 1/2 2 inches depending on my time of the month but its not as deep as it was at first. Im also a nursing momma so it most likely wont close all of the way until I’ve weaned. I feel stronger and my appearance has changed as well. I’ve learned better posture and alignment. I agree with previous posters that Beth is certainly not out to mislead women or make a profit. I’ve learned so much about my own body and have been encouraged in each workout I do to listen to and work with my body to encourage healing. I recommend this program frequently to friends because it has made such a difference in my health, fitness, and life!!

    • Stephanie says:

      4 finger gap all the way and now I’m down to a 2 only in my belly button and some days that gap is better and some days it’s worse depending on what I was doing the days before.

      All that to say- it really can be done.

      After my first baby I felt incredibly deflated. Like my stomach was hanging there and it felt so awkward. I never felt strong after my first. Even a year later I could barely pick up 30 lbs. after my second I immediately started with fit2b and within 3 months my husband told me I finally looked “inflated” again. Rather than that saggy weak feeling I had since my first was born. And now at a year later I am back to being able to lift objects (just yesterday was spent carrying 27 totes up 2 flights of stairs!) and not be so incredibly helpless. And I owe that all to fit2b.
      Before learning to connect with my core I would have had to ask my husband to carry all the totes up for me. But not anymore!!
      Another example- I could hulahoop like no ones business and after giving birth I couldn’t. For the next year I thought I had lost that ability. And then after doing fit2b I was at a picnic and telling someone I couldn’t anymore and picked and it up and holy cow!!! I could do it because I had relearned to connect with my core!
      This isn’t false hope. This is giving many women the gift of re connecting with their amazing bodies that have served the most beautiful purposes.

      All the best!

    • Joanna B says:

      I just want to share my story. I had really bad DR (I’ve had it since I was born). After I had my first daughter it became really bad, to the point of getting a consultation with a doctor to surgically repair my hernia. After I had my 3rd I found out about Fit2B and I’ve been doing the exercises and guess what! My DR significantly reduced! My hernia doesn’t bother me at all and I don’t have a huge gap. Beth’s character is not to mislead or try to turn a profit. She is very helpful.

    • Jana says:

      Carisa, it IS possible! I went from a 5+ and deep gap to a 1 – 1.5 gap (I’m still nursing, but I believe I’ll be able to completely close my gap with a little more time and once I’m done nursing!) using the principles taught by Fit2B and the Tummy Team! I have also seen a HUGE improvement in issues I was having with my pelvic floor like prolapse and leaking. Healing is an ongoing process for me but I now have HOPE. Even though I’ve still got some tummy fat and loose skin, I am more comfortable and confident in my own skin than I have ever been! Beth is not wrong. She is right on and is such an inspiration to me because she keeps fighting for women like me even though these methods are not always popular. Please don’t let anyone ever tell you it is impossible to heal, and that there is no hope because it’s just not true! Blessings to you!

  11. Lynnette says:

    Fit2B helped close my separated abs, no surgery, just exercises. Beth and her team are wonderful and amazing people, inside and out. They truly care and I feel safe and comfortable asking questions. They also do not pretend to know everything. They frequently encourage us to seek the help of physiotherapists. I am so thankful for the passion that God has given Beth Learn and her dedication and heart for helping women.

  12. Catherine says:

    Having dealt with DR and pf issues for 7 years with no help from my OB, a urologist, or even a woman’s specialist PT I was skeptical when I found the Tummy Team and Fit2B. I am so glad I gave it one last shot though. I had never been measured for DR and didn’t know I had one. When I checked it was 4 fingers at the belly button, 3 above and below. I’m working through the program now. Some symptoms improved quickly hip and foot pain) and others are improving slowly but getting there. It’s been 3 months or so. I narrowed my DR to less than 2 fingers at the belly button and am hoping to improve from there. I feel better and more secure in myself. I don’t think I’ll ever get back to pre-babies, but I know I can get better from where I am. I had sunk into a functional depression and so these programs have been life saving for me. I know it is hard when you have suffered so much for so long, but don’t give up on yourself!

  13. K-A says:

    This really does work! After 7 babies I despaired that I would ever close my DR. I started following fit2B while still nursing the 7th, and learned how I had made a lot of things worse by trying to get back in shape using conventional ideas – crunches, planks, etc. I slowly made progress, and was encouraged by the body-positive messages Beth gives. It became very obvious – follow Beth’s “tummy-safe” ways of moving and the exercises, no leak, ignore advice, leak. My DR started at about a 4, and although I could get it to about a 2 while nursing, now, 6 months after weaning, it is down to a 1.

  14. Kerrie Thackray says:

    I’m someone else who has really benefitted from Beth’s videos (and I won lifetime membership years ago so she doesn’t make any profit out of me! 😉 ). I’ve had 5 pregnancies and, as a result of the gentle careful advice and exercises from Fit2B, I perhaps have a 1cm shallow gap at worst now.

    I’ll be honest. I’m a doctor and it took a little time for me to get my head round it as well, and it doesn’t look as impressive when you are doing as something more vigorous, but slow and steady really does win the race here. 🙂

  15. Jen Mc says:

    I found Fit2B after my 6th child and I had an 8+ diastasis at that time, through splinting and the exercises and lifestyle adjustments I made from the advice from Beth and Fit2B, I closed my diastasis down to under a 2 in about 6 months. It’s not a quick fix and I am still working to strengthen my core which though mostly closed is still an area of weakness but if it were not for the exercises and encouragements and knowledge I have gained from Beth, I know I would still be struggling with this issue. Here is a blog post I wrote about my healing journey…. it’s all true and it really does work. Be encouraged sweet mamas, the road may be long but healing is possible! http://www.claffs.com/fit2b-and-me/

  16. Tibeca says:

    I went from an 8 finger DR at my middle and a finger depth that was terrifying to a 1 finger DR. Fit2B is real hope that things can get better WITHOUT surgery. Between Fit2b and physical therapy I am whole again. My only regret is not doing it sooner and listening to all the naysayers that said that my only option was surgery. This is MY tummy after 3 kids. It didn’t happen over night, but there is no photoshopping this image. http://sewingbyti.blogspot.com/2016/01/5-out-of-4-resolution-bra-and-tank.html

  17. Stacia says:

    I have been working with a physical therapist for 6 months. She pointed me to fit2b to help me learn how to continue to exercise in a tummy safe way. This has been a life saver to supplement my PT. I have closed my Diastasis that started at deep 4. I still have 1 finger at my belly. I am hopeful that it will close but if not I am confident that I have learned how to engage my core for exercise and life in a much more effective way than ever before. I have learned to listen to my body and be grateful for what it has done for me. I am 3 years out from 4 pregnancies and 4 c-section. It is slow progress and a lot of the exercise for healing is actually just breathing but learning a new way.

  18. Crystal says:

    If Beth is false, then I don’t want the junk that’s “true.” She helped me heal after horrible birth injuries, and today I’m stronger than ever because of Fit2B, when no one else in the medical field or elsewhere was helping me or putting my body back together.

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