Pull up progression for Diastasis Recti

After seeing Diana Fasset at Success Physical Therapy, I was directed to Ashley’s resources at www.getmomstrong.com.  One post that caught my eye was about pull ups.  I often feel bored and frustrated with my movement restrictions, so I was very interested in working toward getting my pull ups back safely.  I also suspect that there are some postpartum ladies out there who need to ensure that they are doing pull ups in a way that is safe for their abdomen.  Knowing that Ashley struggled with Diastasis Recti after her twins, I was excited to see what she had to teach with our physical therapist.  Check out the video.

After receiving some supervised practice from Diana, I was given the ok to start this progression, and I thought it might be helpful to see what it looks like a beginner with a noticeable gap tries this safely.  So here I am.

The safest way to do this is under the supervision of a physical therapist.  My body doesn’t look or operate exactly like yours.  And to reiterate, if your ribs flare, your back arches, or your linea alba bulges, stop!  You can injure your linea alba further.  I like to work with a mirror in front of me almost always to ensure what I’m doing is not provoking a bulge.  Sometimes it’s hard to be aware of the bulge, especially if you’re not familiar with what your abdomen should look and feel like when safely engaged.   Go get a mirror or train a gym buddy to check you properly during movements.

So while my Transversus abdominus tries to catch up with the strength of the rest of my body, one thing I don’t want to loose is Latissimus dorsi strength.  One of the exercises I use to engage my TA and Lats are pull downs using a band.  Hopping on a SkiErg or cable machine would give about the same stimulation.  This is also a great exercise to practice the blow-before-you-go method.  If you missed that post, it’s right here.

I’ve also done a lot of freestyle in the pool with a buoy between my legs (often available at pools).  I don’t kick during laps to put all the work of propulsion on my upper body.  It’s quite a Lat blaster.  Be careful to keep your TA engaged (especially as you exhale under water) and prevent your back from arching.

I like these 2 exercises because unlike ring rows, they involve an overhead (or nearly overhead) pull without unhealthy stress to the abdominal wall. If I’m attempting a CrossFit workout that prescribes pull ups, I often sub a mixture of ring rows and pull downs to keep my Lats in the game until I get my pull up back.

Good luck mamas!

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