Abdominal Rehab by Kelly Dean, LPT

Experts on Diastasis Recti Ecourse: The Role of Physical Therapy in Abdominal Rehab - fit2b.com
Beth of Fit2B getting some training and feedback from Kelly at The Tummy Team’s clinic in Camas, Washington State.


This first lesson by Kelly Dean, licensed physical therapist and founder of The Tummy Team, will discuss the amazing role that physical therapy can play in your journey to put your core back together. By the end of this lesson, you will know if you need to pursue PT and what to look for in the right one.

How can rehab help diastasis recti? 

Diastasis recti is unnecessarily common and, sadly, under diagnosed. Internal core weakness has practically become an epidemic in our culture. The side effects of this weakness – low back pain, upper back pain, pelvic floor weakness, intestinal issues and more – are almost an expected way of life for most adults.

There is a better way.

The body was beautifully and perfectly designed, and we were not meant to live in chronic pain with falling-apart bodies.

Rehabilitation can be complex and is often unique to each individual.The Tummy Team has developed a comprehensive approach to address the complex needs of core rehabilitation.

Because there are many aspects to each person’s personal story and medical history that contribute to the development of a diastasis, it would be impossible for me to lay out an entire rehab approach in this venue because your rehab needs will vary from the needs of others. In my clinic, we try to address as many different contributing factors as possible while helping clients heal and regain the strength and function their bodies were intended to have.

When we use this comprehensive approach, The Tummy Team has a tremendous success rate. We have never had a committed client not be able to heal their diastasis significantly, if not completely.

I, personally, have healed a six-finger-wide and very deep diastasis, and every member of our team has healed and remained healed with this approach. We live what we teach.

We believe the body was designed for greatness when used as it was designed.

It does not matter what caused your core weakness. It does not matter how severe or mild your diastasis. It does not matter how old you are, how overweight you are, how skinny you are, how weak you are, or how many medical professionals have told you otherwise. You can restore your core and reclaim your life. We get the blessing to facilitate the miracle of healing every single day. We would cherish the opportunity to help you too.

What does abdominal rehab look like? 

Even though each client is unique, there are generally 5 areas that we address with each of them in some capacity. Before I detail those 5 areas, please watch this video I filmed specifically for Fit2B for this ecourse!

Click here to visit The Tummy Team’s website.

Click each of the 5 tabs to read more!

The first area we address has to be awareness. Often, clients are inadvertently damaging their bodies all day with poor movement strategies and living postures. Most fitness routines are developed without keeping in mind how the body was designed to function and contribute to muscle imbalance and joint injuries. Every client needs a thorough understanding of how the body works, and what creates and perpetuates a diastasis and an inactive internal abdominal wall. If we do not fully understand the mechanics of the issue, we will inevitably keep ourselves from fully healing. The Tummy Team values and spends a lot of time on education. We believe each client is the owner of their own body and needs to understand the why, not just the how, of what we are doing in the rehab process. We believe this knowledge not only brings hope but also the power to heal.

The second area that we feel is essential to healing is connection. It is nearly impossible to activate much less use a muscle you cannot feel. Overstretching of the abdominal wall with pregnancy and chronic disuse of the internal core muscles can lead to a complete disconnect from this area of the body. In addition, much of the pain of this life tends to get stored and then ignored in the core. We begin helping clients reconnect on a physical, emotional and even spiritual level with the core. This starts with the most subtle movements and then we systematically isolate and retrain the internal core muscles that are essential to pulling your body back together. This reconnection includes redirecting blood flow, addressing scar tissue or adhesions, neuro-muscular re-education, abdominal splinting, tactile facilitation and much more. Connection is essential to the healing process.

The third area we address is strength retraining. With neglect and injury to the body, there tends to develop compensatory strategies to help us do what we need to do without the injured body part. Imagine a limp that develops if you cannot put full weight on a leg. The body has several survival strategies that will temporarily allow us to function without a strong healthy core; but this is temporary. Our core rehabilitation process begins with waking up the correct muscles, gradually building strength without compensation and then systematically releasing the compensation patterns that have been working overtime as a survival strategy. Most pain that our clients experience is due to compensation strategies. Basically, parts of your body doing jobs they were not intended to do. For instance the hamstrings over activating in attempt to stabilize an unstable pelvis can lead to low back pain, hip pain, SI instability, and pelvic floor dysfunctions. We strongly feel that the body needs foundational core strength and stability before the compensation patterns can be effectively released. We work step by step through the entire body to find the happy balance between stability and mobility that is crucial for the body to heal and thrive.

The fourth area we address is optimal neutral postural alignment. The body has a perfect balanced design where all the muscles and systems work in unison and support each other. When out of alignment the body is left in a series of “tug of war” scenarios. The alignment training is intertwined throughout the core rehab process. As the body balances out the muscle imbalances and moves into neutral alignment, the body functions improve. The body has an incredible capacity to heal itself when it is not constantly fighting for survival and when the body is placed in the optimal environment and alignments. Even in our online programs we recommend personal Skype sessions so our specialists can observe and help each client obtain and maintain this optimal alignment.

The fifth and possibly most important portion of the core rehab process for long term success is functional integration. Our rehabilitation exercises will always build into the functional use of the body. The exercises help to balance out the muscle imbalances so the body can use those muscles properly in all day function. The core was not designed for a series of exercises. The core was designed to hold you up, stabilize your body, and provide balance and support when your body is challenged. We focus on each client’s lifestyle and personal needs. We build functional core strength into all daily postures and movement patterns and when appropriate into fitness options. The strong, reliable functional use of the entire core is the goal. The diastasis will heal on this journey but without the correct functional use of the core there is no guarantee for long term success.

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We have online programs as well as in-person clinic appointments available here.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.