Believe it or not, diastasis recti can affect men just as it can affect women. One of the biggest myths surrounding diastasis recti is that it only occurs in women postpartum. However, diastasis recti is a universal occurrence that affects the abdominal wall without gender specificity.

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti occurs when excess pressure is exerted on the abdominal muscles. This excess pressure can cause them to separate – creating a “gap” in the center of the core. Diastasis recti is also associated with the stretching and thinning of the linea alba (the connective tissue that lies underneath the abs). This tissue binds the vertical muscles on each side of your belly button (the abdominis recti or 6-pack muscles). This occurrence leaves a gap between the vertical muscles and leaves the abdominals unsupported, which can lead to a host of issues.

Male Testing for A Diastasis Injury

self test for diastasis recti for men

If you think you have a diastasis recti, you can visit our Dudes with DR page to test for diastasis recti yourself at home or have a physical therapist assess you.

A self-assessment can be performed as follows:

  1. Lie on your back in a comfortable position. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place one hand on your belly with your fingers pointing straight down on your core. 
  3. If you need support for your head, place your other hand under your head and neck for support. Slowly lift your head and add minimal pressure to your fingers placed on your core. With no diastasis recti, there is the feeling of a toned wall as you lift your head up. If you feel a gap, or your fingers sink into your core, you likely have diastasis recti. In very obvious cases, you can feel the sides of your core muscles in between that gap on the left and right sides.
  4. Repeat the process for the areas just above your belly button and below your belly button to determine whether or not the diastasis recti is isolated or in your core as a whole.

After performing a self-assessment, there are a few things to keep in mind. A gap that is only one or two finger widths wide is not a big concern, as long as it is shallow – but caution is recommended. 

However, if you discover that you have a gap ranging from 2.7 cms or larger (2.5 fingers or larger) you should consult a PT or OT. Regardless of the size of the gap, if there is a gap, it is in your best interest to consider core restoration rehab and strength building exercises to help close the gap and prevent it from widening further.

Tired of Dealing With Diastasis Recti? We Can Help. Join Our Dr. Approved Program & begin to Close Your Ab Separation today

Tired of Dealing With Diastasis Recti? We Can Help. Join Our Dr. Approved Program & begin to Close Your Ab Separation today

How Do Men Fix Their Diastasis Recti

Men can recover from a diastasis recti through corrective and intelligent exercises and reforming bad workout habits. Incorporating core exercises into your regular workout routines can be an effective way to heal from any abdominal separation you may be facing. Below are a few recommended diastasis recti exercises for men:

Good Exercises for Male Diastasis Recti

Each person’s condition with diastasis recti is going to be unique and specific to their body type. Incorporating core exercises into your regular workout routines can be an effective way to heal from any abdominal separation you may be facing. Below are a few core restoration exercises that I would recommend for men.

Candles/Core Engagement

Come to sit tall or stand. Inhale and on the exhale, imagine you are blowing out 100 candles. As you blow, you should feel your core tighten and draw inwards. This can and should be practiced whenever working out and managing a load, a weight, a core move. It automates the core and begins to integrate the function of the core to the activity that you are doing.

Pelvic Clocks

Lying on your back, plant your feet on the ground with your knees positioned at a 90-degree angle. If you imagine a clock is on your abdomen, 12 o’clock would sit on your belly button and 6 o’clock would rest on your pubic bone. Your hips would represent 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. To engage your ab muscles and strengthen your core, guide you pelvis slightly to each location. By doing this, you relax the upper half of your body while your hips allow for pelvic rotation without engaging the legs. This should be performed slowly, smoothly, and without engaging your back muscles. A pelvic clock helps educate you on the positioning of your abs, pelvis and spine. Repeat 7 to 10 rotations per workout. 

Plank Position

To begin planking, lie on your stomach. Position your arms underneath your chest with your forearms facing with fists sideways and facing up as if you were going to give someone a thumbs-up. Keep your knees straight and lift your abdomen (pelvis and belly) off the ground and lift yourself onto your toes and forearms. Focus your strength in your abdomen while ensuring you are breathing properly. Hold this position for roughly 10 seconds and then relax. For the best results, try completing 2 – 3 sets of 10 planks per workout.

Modified plank

Quadruped Tilts

While on your hands and knees, inhale while slowly contracting your abs as you draw in and begin flattening your back. Hold the pose for a few seconds before you exhale. During the exhale, allow your back to come to a resting position and your core to relax as your belly extends with the exhale. Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times a set during your daily workout routine.

Exercises Men Should Avoid When Injured

Some key ground rules when working to strengthen your care via effective core training are:

  1. Do not bulge your abs when doing core exercises!
  2. Do not brace (do not overreact or compensate during core exercises)
  3. Do not bear down when doing core exercises. Bearing down is a movement similar to making a bowel movement. Do not add additional pressure to your abdomen. 
  4. Never hold your breath while doing core exercises!

These common cheats can worsen a diastasis recti. To learn more about effective core strength training, check out Dudes with DR, a Dr. approved gym companion program designed for men who want to heal through smart, effective exercises and education. 

Tired of Dealing With Diastasis Recti? We Can Help. Join Our Dr. Approved Program & begin to Close Your Ab Separation today.

Tired of Dealing With Diastasis Recti? We Can Help. Join Our Dr. Approved Program & begin to Close Your Ab Separation today.

Surgery vs. Natural Healing

Surgery is an unfortunate healing option for diastasis recti. However, surgery is only a necessity in extreme cases. For both men and women, surgery for diastasis recti is considered a cosmetic procedure known as an abdominoplasty – suturing the linea alba together. Yet, surgery should only ever be considered after you have pursued natural methods such as a constructive core restorative exercise program like Restore Your Core.

The best way to heal diastasis recti naturally is to not compensate or “cheat” when doing certain moves at the gym and implementing exercises that focus on healing a diastasis recti. Dudes with DR is a doctor approved online gym companion program specially designed for men who have diastasis recti. From the essential exercises to heal DR, to breathing and core education as well a clear Yes/No guide on how to work with DR at the gym, Dudes with DR gives you everything you need.

Safe core engagement for men with diastasis recti

 How Long Does It Take Men To Heal

Healing from a diastasis recti changes per individual. There is no definite timeline or set schedule for closing a DR. Healing takes time, and lots of it. The best approach to healing a diastasis recti is core training versus a standard exercise routine. How we hold our bodies, how we stand, whether we have a tense, tight belly, our exercise regimens, and our breathing patterns all play part in core functionality or lead to a system fault. The biggest issue exercise is how often we compensate. Not because it’s a fault of ours, but because our body is intelligent enough to implement other bodily systems when another one fails. 

Arbitrary sit-ups, crunches, and planks will not fix a core system failure. We need to train our core, not just exercise our core. In training, we are teaching our core to do its job, to manage load (weights and movement), our weight, and endurance. Being good at exercise does not properly train your core to be resilient, reflexive, and responsive. With a diastasis recti, the body has lost its innate support system it once had. However, it is not gone forever, but clearing the fog surrounding exercise and health is the primary goal to healing. It is the ideology behind my Dudes with DR gym companion for men and what I work on daily in my Restore Your Core Program.