How Do I Do a Diastasis Recti Test?
Now that you have a thorough understanding of diastasis recti, I’ll guide you through a diastasis recti test and show you how to do it on yourself.
Step 1: Setting up for a Diastasis Recti Test
First, get into position. Lay on your back with your knees bent at about a 45 degree angle (or like you’re setting up for a glute bridge). Lift your shirt so Make sure your pelvis is untucked and your spine is in neutral (your lower back should not be flat, it should have a gentle curve). Start breathing into your ribs. I usually have my clients take ten to twenty piston breaths before beginning.
What Is a Piston Breath?
A piston breath is a full breath. It’s a breathing technique that women learn in my Postnatal Series and Julie Wiebe’s Pelvic Floor Piston course that is essential to diastasis recti and pelvic floor healing. It incorporates good alignment, full diaphragmatic breaths that engage and support your whole core (including your pelvic floor) and helps us to recoordinate the muscles needed for core health and function.
Step 2: Exhale and Lift + Lift!
After ten to twenty piston breaths, I want you to contract your pelvic floor muscles (as if stopping the flow of urine) and lift your head on exhale. This isn’t a crunch, just a simple lifting of your head.
2. Contract (Lift) Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
3. Lift Your Head
**This is where most diastasis recti test videos are outdated or wrong. They do not incorporate the pelvic floor in the check.**
Step 3: Walk Your Fingers Down Your Midline
Starting at your sternum, walk your fingers towards your belly button. Keep your pelvic floor contracted. If you have a space between your abdominal muscles, you will start to feel where they separate. When you get to that space, push against the connective tissue. How does it feel?
If you get tired, stop your fingers where they are, drop your head and rest. Then start again at Step 2: Exhale and Lift + Lift.
What Should Your Connective Tissue Feel Like?
If you have diastasis recti, the connective tissue between your abdominals will feel soft and weak. I would compare it to pressing against the skin of your cheek or memory foam of a mattress. Your fingers will sink when pressure is applied.
If you do not have diastasis recti, the connective tissue between your abomdinals will feel strong and taut. I would compare it to pressing against the tip of your nose or a trampoline mat. The strength and tension of the connective tissue provides some flexibility, but will remain firm and resist the pressure being applied.
Step 4: Take Measurements
It’s important to record the size of your diastasis and feel of the connective tissue. I recommend using your fingertips as a measuring guide. Measure the length (vertical) separation above and below the belly button. Measure the width (horizontal) separation above and below the belly button. And finally, measure the depth (to fingertip, knuckle, etc.) and record the feel of the connective tissue under your fingers.
With these measurements you can track your progress as you work through a diastasis recti rehab program. Check in every two weeks to see if you’re making progress.
Diastasis Recti Test Video
In the following video I show you the wrong (and most commonly used) way that people are doing diastasis recti tests. Then I will show you the correct way, which follows the steps above.
Find a Physical Therapist
If in doubt, or if you need a second opinion, please find a women’s health or pelvic floor physiotherapist to help you with this. I recommend all of my pre and postnatal clients see a pelvic floor physiotherapist alongside training with me in person or online. You can search for ones in your area here: USA | Canada | Australia | New Zealand | UK
PS – if you’re looking to get back into fitness after having a baby, and don’t know to where to start, consider the Healthy Habit Happy Mom Postnatal Series, available HERE