You had a baby a few months or years ago and you ended up having a gap between your abs? Now you ARE YOU WONDERING IF YOU CAN RUN WITH THIS GAP? THE ANSWER IS: IT DEPENDS. Yeah, I know, you wanted to hear that you can go for a run with it but it’s not that easy. Let’s dive a bit deeper!
THE GAP IS CALLED DIASTASIS RECTI
Diastasis recti very common for moms. About 40% of mothers still have this separation of their six pack muscles at six months postpartum and beyond. Interestingly, the gap is not really the problem. The gap is just the result of a weak linea alba, the thin band of connective tissue that runs from your sternum down to your pubic bone. As your baby grows during pregnancy it stretches this band. For some women the band just goes back to its pre-pregnancy length and strength but for some it doesn’t. It stays stretched and long which, unfortunately means, weak. That is what diastasis recti actually is: your linea alba cannot build up strength and it cannot stabilize you. This leads to a feeling of weakness in your mid section, and can cause other problems like back pain, pelvic floor issues, … (the core is a system, and your abs, the pelvic floor, the tiny back muscles, and your big breathing muscles are part of this system and influence each other). But enough of the technicalities.
CAN I RUN WITH THE GAP BETWEEN MY ABS
For some it is ok to run although they have a gap wider than 2 cm. As long as you are able to create tension across your linea alba you are good to go (s. video below to test yourself).
OK TO RUN when ABLE TO CREATE TENSION
For some it is not ok to for a run. If your gap is wider than 2 cm and you are not able to create tension across your linea alba you shouldn't do any type of high impact workout including running.
NOT OK TO RUN when NOT ABLE TO CREATE TENSION
Ok, and that tells most people: nothing ;-) Let's phrase it a bit differently!
HOW DO KNOW I IF MY GAP IS FUNCTIONAL OR NOT
The best thing would be to get tested by a professional like a pelvic floor therapist. They can assess you and could also teach you to test yourself. Having a therapist at your side is extremely beneficial in so many ways. They factor all the important healing and running aspects in. In a perfect world all moms would see a pelvic floor therapist during their postpartum time, get an appropriate assessment, treatment and all the help they deserve. We are not there yet, so we have to help ourselves.
WAYS TO TEST YOURSELF
You can observe what happens to your abdomen during certain exercises like planks, situps, and the like. Is it bulging or doming? Do you struggle extremely with core-intense workouts and feel a general weakness in your midsection? If you experience anything like this it might be a sign that you have diastasis recti and should refocus your core work. Your body cannot handle the intense pressure (intra-abdominal pressure that is) and you will see and/or feel it. If you experience any of this do the following test.
This is a great way to test yourself and learn if you have diastasis recti: Assessing Diastasis Recti Post-Pregnancy by Moms Gone Strong.
LET’S SUM IT UP
Running with diastasis recti is ok in two cases:
1) you’ve been assessed, treated, and cleared by your pelvic floor therapist, or
2) you have tested yourself and found out that you have no diastasis recti or a functional one.
Running with diastasis recti is not ok if you have a dysfunctional one. In that case you should avoid running (avoid high impact workouts all together), stay away from exercises like planks, sit ups, …, and find help or do a diastasis recti- specific workout program.
I really want to urge you to not go for a run if you know that you have a dysfunctional diastasis recti. You might injure yourself, and that would mean no running for an even longer time. Diastasis recti CAN BE HEALED. It will take some time, yes, but if you get the help you deserve and work your way back to a healthy midsection your body will thank you in multiple ways. One of them will be tons of years of safe, enjoyable running!
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I’m here and I’m more than happy to help!
Disclaimer: Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any type of exercise program!