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Exercise for Diastasis Recti?

I also have a small issue w/ith diastasis recti, but I don't want a Tummy Tuck. Can I tighten those muscles wth exercise? Thanks!

Doctor Answers (10)

Diastasis Recti can only be corrected with surgery

Diastasis recti is a condition that is common in women who have had one or more pregnancies. It involves the separation of the left and right side of the rectus abdominis muscle (a muscle that covers the front surface of the stomach area). Unfortunately, there are no exercises that can effectively address this problem. 

Although Diastasis recti is usually described as muscle separation, the main issue involves a tough band of tissue, called fascia, that holds the muscles together. This tissue, when stretched, is similar to garbage bag material, that is, it can shrink back a little, but is usually permanently stretched. This is the reason that even if you do a tremendous amount of abdominal exercises, you will not get rid of Diastasis recti. The problem really involves the fascia, not the actual muscle.

Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Exercise for Diastasis Recti


This problem is a surgical problem.  The area between the rectus abdominis muscles separates and causes a gap with bulging.  No exercises will repair this problem.  Only a surgical correction with plication of the fascia of the recti will cure this defect.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Diastasis Recti Repair without a Tummy Tuck



Diastasis Recti is a separation of the bands of the Rectus Abdominus muscle. It commonly occurs in pregnant women, but can appear in others as well. Affected people typically have a line that protrudes along the center of their tummies (especially above the belly button) with increase in intra-abdominal pressure. This is an area bare of muscle between the bands of the Rectus Abdominus muscle. Exercise for this reason will not improve it.

This problem requires surgery to correct. A tummy tuck can repair it amongst other issues and is probably the most commonly performed operation to fix Diastasis Recti.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

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No, it is an anatomic problem which requires surgery


 Diastasis recti is an anatomic problem which requires surgery - most often repaired during abdominoplasty.  You can build up your abdominal muscles to help compensate, but you will not fix or correct the problem.  Good luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Unfortunately, the answer is only a tummy tuck


Feel free to continue exercising as it is good for the heart and body. However, separation of the rectus abdominus muscles (the "6-pack") is common.. especially after pregnancy. The only way to bring the muscles back together in the middle is to stitch them back together. In order to do that, the skin and fat of the abdomen has to be lifted off the muscles. That is essentially one part of a tummy tuck and unfortunately the only way to repair a diastasis (or separation of the muscles). Good luck!

Sirish Maddali, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon

Think of it like shoelaces


A shoe may be made of elastic material ("weak muscles") or very stout leather (strong muscles"). Regardless, unless the shoelaces are tied, the shoe will not hold its shape or your foot ("abdominal contents").

Ricardo L. Rodriguez, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Separation of sit-up muscles, diastasis, is common after pregnancy


Besides the stretch marks and loss of skin elasticity within the abdomen, some also experience a separation of the sit-up muscles, and a very few will develop an actual hernia in the umbilicus or belly button. This separation called a diastasis of the rectus muscles is a natural relaxation that takes place and does not cause a problem with exercise. Many patients don't notice that the diastasis has occurred unless the space is pointed out to them, sometimes it will show clearly. In order to feel the separation, just lay flat, and then bring your head up into a partial sit-up. With your fingers placed above and below the belly button a cleft or indentation will appear in the line down the middle like a deep valley.

With a diastasis you are able to persue any and all exercise. Abdominal strengthening is not a problem, however the muscle runs up and down and strengthening will not narrow or improve the separation. During tummy tuck the diastasis is easily repaired, but if you are not ready feel free to exercise. It can't hurt.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Not due to the muscles


Many patients think that the separation of the muscles if a muscle problem and that exercisiong will fix it. Not the case!

The muscles are encased in a covering called fascia. It has the consistency of a thick canvas. When this is stretched out it can stay stretched and lead to a separation in the middle where the left and the right are connected.

The treatment is surgery for sewing this layer tighter. This can be done through small incisions.

John P. Stratis, MD
Harrisburg Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Diastasis recti


Exercise will help the rectus muscles become strong.

Exercise cannot fix the fascia that has been stretched or ripped during pregnancy, since fascia contains no muscle tissue. It is the loosening of this fascia that causes a separation of the rectus muscles, the diastasis recti.

There are tummy tucks such as the endoscopic tummy tuck or the Hybrid tummy tuck (TM) that can fix the fascia through small or minimal incisions.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 93 reviews



Exercise can strengthen the rectus muscles but will not correct the diastasis which is caused by stretching of the strong tissue between the two rectus muscles.

Edmond A. Zingaro, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.