DIASTASIS RECTI 101: Why some moms shouldn’t do crunches!

Diastasis Recti Bikini Body Mommy Ab exercise 1

If you’ve never heard of Diastasis Recti, you’re not alone. Diastasis Recti (no, I’m not speaking french… Pronunciation: dye-uh-STAY-siss REK-tye) is a serious condition that effects 1 in 3 mothers to some degree. That’s a pretty staggering number of  mommies — and sadly, very few of us even know what it is, and MOST IMPORTANTLY — How to FIX IT!


Diastasis recti also known as (“abdominal separation”), is a condition where the right and left sides of the rectus abdominus (the muscle that makes up the front wall of the abdominals, also known as the “six-pack”) spreads apart at the body’s midline. Diastasis Recti Bikini Body Mommy Ab exercise 2

Abdominal separation occurs most often in response to the force of the uterus pushing against the abdominal wall during pregnancy, but can also happen when there is an extreme over-abundance of sub-muscular (visceral) abdominal fat. In pregnancy, hormones are also partially to blame, as they can soften connective tissue, allowing the separation to occur more easily. (SOURCE)

The risks of developing diastasis are greater in women who:

  • are expecting more than one baby (or in my case — just look like they are!)
  • have had abdominal separation with a previous pregnancy
  • are very petite
  • have a pronounced sway back or poor abdominal muscle tone

So what’s the BIG DEAL?

Welll …. when the abdominal muscles separate, it weakens your entire core’s support system — resulting in a severe pelvic tilt, lower back pain and that dreaded “mommy tummy ” or “pooch.” If you have diastasis, the mommy tummy or pooch that you are so unhappy with, could actually be your protruding organs! They protrude because instead of being supported and pulled in by your muscles (if they were together), they are now only being supported by a thin (saran wrap-like) piece of connective tissue.  SCARY, because if there is trauma to the abdominal area and the connective tissue is torn away from the muscle, your organs will come through and a ventral hernia can develop. In which case, surgery would be required to repair it.

HOW TO Check if you Have Diastasis Recti… Diastasis Recti Bikini Body Mommy Ab exercise 3

The object is to determine how many fingers will fit in the space between the two recti muscles. You also want to determine the condition of the connective tissue. The deeper your fingers will go towards your spine, the weaker the connective tissue.   Start with your index and middle fingers.

How to check for Diastasis Recti

STEP #1 Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place TWO fingers just above your belly button, pointing down in the direction of your toes.

STEP #2 Relax your abdominal muscles and lift your head. You might have to come up and down a few times so you can feel how the muscles work. You are trying to feel the two ridges of the muscles strait down your midline and feeling for a gap. If you don’t feel a gap (separation) with 2 fingers, you may have to put more fingers in. If you see the football- like ridge you should start by using 4 to 5 fingers.


It is NEVER too late to close a diastasis! Closing a diastasis is all about healing the connective tissue. How long it takes depends on the severity of  your diastasis and your commitment to the program.


If you have a moderate (2-3 finger gap) to severe (5 finger gap or MORE) case of diastasis, the absolute WORST THING that you can do is “traditional ab work” like crunches and planks.  Those types of movements actually pull the muscles apart and only make your condition WORSE.

A lot has been written about how to successfully rehab diastasis, but at the forefront of the applied research stands a woman by the name of Julie Tupler.  Julie is an RN, who wrote a book called “Lose Your Mummy Tummy,” which has quickly became the “Diastasis Bible” of sorts for both medical and fitness professionals around the world.

In Julie’s book, she outlines a 4-Step process that you should take to successfully repair your diastasis, so that you can resume the normal activity and core strengthening work that is seen throughout my BIKINI BODY MOMMY CHALLENGE

The 4-Step Tupler Technique® is:

  1. Tupler Technique Exercises.  Here is a brief excerpt, from Julies Book.  Don’t be fooled, you might look at this workout and think it’s way too easy.  But if you have a diastasis, it’s actually very challenging! REal-simple-article-13-786x1024

2. Splinting with the Diastasis Rehab Splint

3. Using your abdominals correctly with activities of daily living

4. Learning how to “Get up and down” correctly

To support you in getting the full benefit of Julie’s rehab program, she stresses the importance of having the following items:

In Closing …

If this condition effects you, I would recommend halting all traditional “abdominal exercises” (you can still do MY WORKOUTS, minus the ab work!) and start doing the workouts provided above on this page until your separation heals. Depending on the severity, Julie states that through her Tupler Technique® it could take you anywhere from six weeks to a year to close your diastasis. Obviously if you choose to implement all of the rehab steps in her program  — odds are your diastasis will only heal that much faster!

Have you ever been checked for diastasis recti?  Have you ever heard of it?  Let me know in the comments below! xx,-Briana
FAVOR TIME Bikini Body Mommies?! IF YOU AREN’T ALREADY, can you pretty-please take 2 seconds to follow me on BLOGLOVIN so you don’t miss a BIKINI BODY MOMMY beat this week! Thanks loves <3

Source and reference guide for this post include: Tupler Technique, Plastic Surgery Reference Journal, and About.com


  1. Sunny says

    If I’m doing your workouts with diastasis recti, I’m guessing planks and burpees are both out. Is there something that I can do in the place of burpees? I feel like they add a great challenge to the workouts (even though I hate them with a passion!). Maybe extra squat jumps?

  2. says

    hi i just found your facebook page and been reading this for an hour.. im having problem with my tummy im a mommy of twins thier 3 years old im skinny but my tummy is big.. so. my husband ask me if i could do crunches but reading this post of yours make me think so i checked if i have diastasis recti and i do have. if i close my diastasis recti can i do my ab work? thank you just looking at your pictures on instagram really motivates me to do your challenges..

  3. Jorden says

    Did you suffer from diastasis recti? If so, I wanted to know if this was the method you used to overcome it. I was recently diagnosed with this after my first pregnancy… and the doctors are telling me that only surgery will repair it. I am trying to figure out if going through the Tulper Technique will help me.

  4. Renee says

    Hi Briana,
    I just read your post about diastasis recti. I went through it, surgery and all.
    About 6 months after my daughter was born, I felt a pop in my chest just below my sternum. Not thinking what it could be, I just left it alone. I started getting concerned that my stomach wasn’t going down from my pregnancy and noticed my belly button wasn’t going back into place either. I started having severe pain around my belly button area and a year later I was finally diagnosed with a ventrical hyernia due to the lack of adominal strength during my pregnancy. I had to have corrective surgery that had a pretty painful recovery process. It felt like I had my c-section all over again.

    The surgery helped and I felt much better after healing. But, its been almost 3 years since my surgery and I still have my large belly and still look like I’m pregnant.
    I am going to try your workout above becuase i have a very hard time trying any admonial workouts.

    Thank you for your post.

  5. Kelli says

    I saw this through Pinterest and immediately knew that’s what I had.

    I was doing crunches and my back started Killing me!! I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I stopped for a little bit and then once I was feeling a bit better, I started them up again. Big mistake. It got worse. I stopped working out completely, because I was So scared I had forgotten how to work out or something silly like that.

    Well, I went to my Dr to confirm and he agreed. I have Diastasis Recti. I have a hernia, so he is going to have to surgically fix it, but not until I’m done having kids. He said I can still workout, but obviously not do crunches.

    I will Definitely be trying these workout and tips and probably get Julie’s book. Wish me luck!

  6. Janelle says

    I have a diastasis that’s about 3 fingers wide and have been desperately searching for ways to close it. I am actually using the Tupler Technique and also plan to complete your 90 day challenge. I’m looking forward to great results!

  7. christa says

    Is two fingers wide still too much? I do have a gap but I have a flat stomach but have had a weak back in the past and mild scoliosis anyway. Would it be worth skipping the exercises and doing the modified exercises instead? I have noticed a small gap while laying down but did not realize it could be.corrected.

  8. clp says

    I’m actually getting mine repaired (I also have an umbilical hernia).In a way it made me feel better to know I had diastasis recti because I ate healthy, I exercised and I had returned to my pre-pregnancy weight. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t fix my belly, it may sound lame but it felt good to know it wasn’t totally my fault.

    • says

      Hey, I was wondering if you had any pain associated with your situation? I have A.Rectus also and am wondering if I have an umbilical hernia. Was your painful? I have pain from bellybutton to c-section incision, especially around the belly button. But a bulge as described in what I’ve read isn’t obvious to me… Thanks.

  9. jessica says

    I was wondering if you have this diastasis would you still be able to tighten up stomach like flex it and it get firm and go in? Not that I have six pack or I obviously wouldn’t be on here. Lol.

  10. celene says

    Hi..I have a slight DR and I just started the 90 day challenge. I saw the questions about burpees and how to modify but I never saw an answer, I saw a response by BBM at the end but it was blank :-( I am so curious about how to modify for DR. I will keep looking on the blog for it, but I get sidetracked by different posts and then thought maybe it would be easier if I just asked ;-)

  11. Becky says

    I had twins 3 1/2 year ago…right away I went and saw my doctor…after having the girls and the hospital, I couldn’t even pick up my foot to take a step….took about a week to walk normal. Then when I went to see my dr. he had me see a hurnia dr….He said I had the diatasis erecti, basically told me there is nothing for me to do….now almost 4 yrs later, I’m finding time to exercise….and bikini body mommy said to check out her blog on DE….So Now I feel discouraged….I will figure this tummy thing out….It’s so sensitive and not normal…wish me lots of luck!

    • BECKY says

      Well it’s 2months later….got discouraged a bit….now been eating healthier and exercising daily….still need more exercising the DR…but not giving up yet! I have about 4 finger gap in my DR and can push pretty far down, just really need to keep it up….because I want to start the 90 day challenge!
      Still working at it!
      Becky =)

  12. Rebecca says

    Thank you so much!!! My split is really bad, like 5+ fingers! And almost no muscle tone around it! I had no idea that I can heal this! I have had two different dr’s tell me there was nothing I could do, and multiple nurses after having my three babies not know anything about it at all! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  13. Susan says

    So I have about a 2 finger gap. Do I have to stop doing the BBM exercises? Do I have Diastasis Recti? The info is a little unclear about a 2 finger gap…

  14. says

    “If you have a moderate (2-3 finger gap) to severe (5 finger gap or MORE) case of diastasis, the absolute WORST THING that you can do is “traditional ab work” like crunches and planks. Those types of movements actually pull the muscles apart and only make your condition WORSE.”

    So Mine is 1-1.5 fingers and about 2 cm deep…. am I safe to do planks etc? Or should you not do them if you have ANY diastasis?

  15. Alissa says

    Briana, wow! Thank you so much for mentioning this in your 90 day challenge and blogging about Diastasis Recti. I have suffered from this for almost 10 years after multiple abdominal surgeries in my early 20’s and 4 pregnancies. Its been almost 2 years since I had Lukas and I was begging to think that a dreaded surgery was the only way to ever make my abs look normal again. I have not been given any hope by doctors and physical therapists even.
    Thank you so much for posting the Tupler Technique work outs.
    I have only been using these modified workouts for a week, but its amazing the results! I love your BBM 90 Challenge, I just day 17. I may send you some before and afters soon. But you truly are and inspiration and its because you go beyond just looking good and helping us look good…. You educate, empower and love on your followers. I wish I had more time to stay in touch. But BIG thanks!!
    xo, Alissa

  16. Meg says

    I’m confused…you said to Susan anything under three finger gap is good for bum work out but to Kylie that annoying under two finger gap is good to go….I have a two finger gap…good to go or no?
    Thanks in advance,

  17. Jen says

    A friend just told me about your site and Julies book. I have DR with a 5 finger gap ( one finger for each of my 5 kids maybe??) I have always had self image issues. I am thin but my belly protrudes and makes me look pregnant….which makes people make comments that are very hurtful to me. “How’s the baby?” “When are you due?” “I didn’t know that you were expecting!” things like that. I have had 3 doctors tell me that I need surgery to fix this….which is discouraging because it is very expensive and from what I have been told, it is cosmetic and not covered by insurances. SO! I am happy to hear that someone has had success correcting this problem without expensive, painful surgery. I am ALL for doing all I can to be healthy and my “best self”. I am excited to have some hope now!

    • Wendy says

      Jen, I’m in the same boat. My gap is 8 fingers wide (my 3rd child was 9lbs 7oz!). I get the comments about expecting again too, and it hurts every time. My doctor (who will be repairing my umbilical hernia) also said it’s cosmetic. I have Kaiser Permanente, but I could have sworn I read somewhere about somebody else getting theirs done through insurance. It seems to me as though it’s a huge health risk for more hernias, but what do I know? Have you started the Tupler method?

      I’m glad I read this. I knew not to do crunches, but I was still doing plank and burpees! Not anymore!

      Has anyone else here done the Tupler method and had success? I’m starting tomorrow in hopes of avoiding having my muscles sewn back together. It sure would be great if I could avoid that!

  18. says

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  19. Crystal says

    I also have been using a workout tummy belt when doing all my exercising. I’m not sure if it helped but I want to think it did.


  1. […] Diastasis Recti This is the separation of the abdominal muscles and is caused by the muscles being stretched during pregnancy. Many women get this, but in most cases, the muscles will tighten back on their own. For other women, however, all the crunches in the world will not give them a flat tummy, and actually could be making it worse. To check if you have diastasis recti, lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Place two fingers just above your belly button pointing down towards your toes. Lift your head and feel how your muscles are moving. If you have a gap more than 3 fingers wide, you may have diastasis recti. If you have this, you do not want to do traditional ab exercises, as that may be making it worse. There are exercises that can strengthen these muscles back up though. There are examples of some of these exercises here and here […]

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