Although common in postpartum women, a separated rectus, also known as diastasis recti, can also occur in obese individuals and in children up to 2 years of age. (See References 1, p. 337) This condition occurs when there's a separation between the right and left side of the rectus abdominis muscle. This can trigger pelvic and back pain, and make it hard to stabilize the trunk. (See References 2) Although it can correct itself, targeted exercise can lend a helping hand.
Things to Consider
Abdominal exercise, such as traditional crunches and situps, aren't going to correct a separated rectus. More so, they can worsen the condition, and make your tummy bulge out. (See References 3, p. 64) Your emphasis should be on retraining your stabilizing muscles, which includes your pelvic floor muscles and transverse abdominis. (See References 2) These corset-like muscles can help tighten your midsection and reduce the gap in the rectus abdominis. After correcting the separation, a progressive abdominal-strengthening program can be incorporated. Always get your doctor's consent before starting any exercises, to ensure that your planned regimen is safe and suitable for your condition.
Lift Your Head Up
The head raise is a deceptively easy looking exercise that can help correct a separated rectus. It's done while lying face up on the floor with your head on a pillow, your knees bent and feet flat. Wrap a towel around your a waist, crossing it over your abs and grasping the outer ends with opposite hands. As you raise your head to bring your chin to your chest, you exhale and pull your belly button to your spine while lightly pulling outward on either ends of the towel. Imagine the gap in your rectus abdominis getting smaller. Hold the contraction for five minutes, and then release it as you lower your head back down. Do this 10 times, three times a day. (See references 1, p. 337 and References 4)
Tilt Your Pelvis
Pelvic tilts effectively strengthen your stabilizing muscles. This exercise is done while lying on your back with...