Ep 11: Can You Make Diastasis Recti Worse? with Sarah Haag

This topic was one suggested by Get Glutes member Nadege, and it's one many postpartum women will resonate with. Whether you've just had a baby or are years down the line and only learning about this now.

"I recently discovered that I may have abdominal separation, reason why no matter what, I'm not having a flat belly (when I do get great result with all other muscles). Also, most exercises i was doing to build the muscles, actually make it worse. I'm so frustrated as it is a lot of waste time and energy."

What Nadege is describing is a process called Diastasis Recti Abdominis, which is the thinning of the "six-pack" abs to accommodate a growing fetus. It can happen for other reasons, too, but this is how most women experience it.

It's often blamed for the "mummy tummy" or "belly pooch" appearance many women have, and even still it's blamed for things like pain, weakness, pelvic floor dysfunctions like incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse (POP), pelvic girdle pain (PGP), and even other orthopedic pain and "bad posture". But are these things true? Or if they are true, how much should we *actually* worry about them.

With all that in mind, it's no wonder I see so many women afraid of making it worse and desperate to "fix it". Not only does the presence of a non-flat stomach bother us (so much pressure to have a flat tummy), but with all these "problems" looming over us, there's a lot of fear and confusion about making it worse.

Imagine how that affects your body trust. To be afraid of moving certain ways because you've been told it's going to make it worse. Or believing that having diastasis is somehow bad and you NEED to fix it.

I invited Women's/Pelvic Health Physical Therapist, and Assistant Professor at Rosalind Franklin University of Chicago, Sarah Haag, PT, DPT on to talk about this contentious topic.

You may have heard many things about Diastasis Recti - or ab separation - and you may be wondering how to fix the diastasis, but is diastasis bad? Is it a dysfunction waiting to happen? 

Listen in to find out what the evidence says and what it doesn't:


Get the Transcript:

What You Will Learn:

0:00 Introducing the audience question
03:06 Is there anything that's making it worse, and how can she make it look better (the aesthetics).
06:33 The list of "don't do" exercises
08:41 What can be done about it?
15:47 Do you need rehab for it?
19:30 Let's talk function and dysfunction - does DR cause problems?
22:01 What about alignment?
26:01 The obsession with flat abs. Should we all let our tummies just relax?
32:52 Parting wisdom.

Sarah Haag headshot

About Sarah Haag, PT, DPT:

Dr. Sarah Haag graduated from Marquette University in 2002 with a Master of Physical Therapy. She went on to complete Doctor of Physical Therapy and Master of Science in Women’s Health from Rosalind Franklin University in 2008. Sarah has pursued an interest in treating the spine, pelvis with a specialization in women’s and men’s health, becoming a Board-Certified Women’s Health Clinical Specialist in 2009 and Certification in Mechanical Diagnosis Therapy from the McKenzie Institute in 2010.

Sarah is also a Registered Yoga Instructor. She joined the faculty of Rosalind Franklin in 2019. In her roles at Rosalind Franklin, she's acting as the physical therapy faculty liaison for the Interprofessional Community Clinic and teaching in the College of Health Professions. 

Sarah cofounded Entropy Physiotherapy and Wellness with Dr. Sandy Hilton, in Chicago, Illinois in 2013. Entropy was designed to be a clinic where people would come for help, but not feel like ‘patients’ when addressing persistent health issues. 

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