Exercising to Close Post-Partum Separated Rectus Abdominis Muscles

Although I always knew it was possible – especially carrying such a large baby – I still have to admit I was quite shocked by the size of the separation of my rectus abdominis muscles.  At my six week check up, it was the width of my palm.  Now, at three months and 2 weeks post-partum, it has reduced to the size of two finger widths – although no thanks to any special workout I have done despite my resolution to do something about it.

After attending the Fitball class at Fitfor2 last week, I finally managed to ask for specific exercises that help to close the gap.  Debbie kindly provided me that information after class.  And here it is:

1. The best thing you can do for your abdominals after the delivery is the breathing exercise that is commonly taught throughout pregnancy.  Lie down on your back (or sit, if you prefer) and breathe in and out.  As you breathe in, expand your abdominal area as much as you can.  As you breathe out, squeeze out all the air by tightening your abdominal muscles. Rinse and repeat.  The more you do, the better.

You can see an example of abdominal breathing in the youtube video below:


2. When you’ve cleared your six week check-up at the doctor and have the “ok” to start exercising, you can start incorporating the “plank pose”.  Get into the push up position with your forearms on the floor to support you instead of your hands.  Keep your back straight with your bottom tucked in.  Try not to let your bottom sag or stick up in the air.  Hold for as long as you can without your back hurting.  Take a break.  Rinse and repeat.

You can take a look at the example in the youtube video below on what the plank pose looks like:


3. You need a fitball for number three.  Sit up straight on your ball and balance with one foot on the ground and the other leg in the air.  Swap legs and repeat.  Make sure you hold for an equal period of time on both sides.

The exercises you do all require you to hold in your abdominal muscles.  When you do each of the exercises above, think about which parts of your abdominals you are contracting.  That is the action you are trying to achieve and if you can find other abdominal exercises that achieve that, they will also help.

All other abdominal workouts, for instance sit-ups, crunches, leg lifts, etc. are off limits.