9-Minute Diastasis Recti Fix

An NPR article on postpartum diastasis recti has recently gained a lot of attention.  The article shares a “mummy tummy” fix with a 10-minute exercise.  It involves a continuous and progressive drawing-in maneuver with strong exhales (similar to kapalabhati breathing).  It’s like a maximal isometric abdominal contraction for 10 minutes everyday.

 a full exhale is important, but don't lose your teeth over it ( image source )

a full exhale is important, but don't lose your teeth over it (image source)

Of course anything that becomes popular is met with criticism, backlash, and drama.  While some do have a valid arguments about unrealistic expectations, reductionism, and a lack of thorough medical care; I think we should also look at the positives.  We should try to analyze why it has had success.

Just One Thing

I think one of the reasons why this method works is because it’s simple and concise.  Just one exercise, 10 minutes a day.  

This simplicity makes it accessible to everyone.  And the short duration allows even the busiest moms to have success.  

This easy approach empowers people to take action.  And an intrinsic, active role in one’s health may be the most important variable to ensure success with any health intervention.

Physical Therapists should take this into account.  Maybe instead of giving a strict exercise prescription (3 sets of 10 reps of rows with the green thera-band) we should give a more open, user friendly prescription (5 minutes of maximal scapula retraction everyday).  

 patients are much more likely to do this for 5 minutes a day than tie therabands around their door ( image source )

patients are much more likely to do this for 5 minutes a day than tie therabands around their door (image source)

It’s the KISS principle.  Find the movement or group of muscles that need to be improved and simply prescribe a duration to perform them.  Dorsiflex your ankle for 3 min/day, hip hinge for 2 min/day, extend your hips with a maximal glute contraction for 5 min/day, tuck your chin and lengthen your neck for 7 min/day.  

Prescribe the movement and time.  Then let the patient choose the context that best suits them. 

It changes the treatment from practitioner based directions to a person-to-person collaboration.

We’ve already seen positive research on these "total time" methods with the scientific 7-minute workout, frozen shoulder/adhesive capsulitis rehab, and now Diastasis Recti.  So why not use it for other musculoskeletal impairments as well?

Disclaimer

If you have a diastasis recti or any other physical impairment postpartum you should see a pelvic floor physical therapist