5 steps to repair diastasis recti

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Do you suffer from diastasis recti or stomach muscle separation?

Following 3 children (the youngest was born 12 years ago), I really thought I’d left it too late to do anything about it.

But I’ve been following these 5 simple steps and I can feel and see that I have developed stomach muscles in the center of my abdomen where previously there was a gap.

Melissa Neill lying down in a bikini

I did a great deal of research and investigation and came up with some simple steps which anyone can implement (you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic!)

In this article, we’re going to cover how to fix diastasis recti (divarication) or stomach muscle separation in 5 easy steps. I’m going to be upfront with you, its not a miracle cure and some people have it so severely they will need an operation to put it right.

This article is for you if you (like me) have an ‘elongated lump’ that sticks out with no pain or other issues and you want to rectify it. I feel like the plan I put in place as you can see in this photo:

Before and after diastatis recti

To give you a bit of background, I have had this condition, which I’ve lived with for 14 years after having my second child. Apart from a couple of sessions arranged by the maternity hospital straight after my second child, I have never done anything about it.

And it wasn’t until someone I was training with pointed it out to me in 2019, I even thought about it. Because I was competing in bikini competitions I become self-conscious about my abs and wanted to do something about it.

Diastasis recti are quite visible. What happens is there is a separation of the wall of muscle and this can result in flesh protruding out of the stomach in an elongated lump down the middle of the stomach from below the chest to the belly button (note I am trying to avoid medical terms here!).

This normally happens after pregnancy and childbirth in women but can also affect men too.

Over 10 weeks I have been putting an exercise plan in place and my abs have tightened up and the muscles in my abdomen, that were separated, have appeared where there was nothing there before.

This has meant that when I do sit-ups I don’t see the flesh protruding out and I have also lost around an inch off my waist. It has certainly IMPROVED and I am going to continue as I hope to make further improvements.

Here are the steps you can take to repair diastasis recti symptoms:

Melissa performing a stomach vacuum

1. Stomach vacuums. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t convinced these were going to work. It is a technique used by bodybuilders whereby you suck and hold your tummy in. It should be concave in shape and it really takes practice to master this.

I have been doing this every day for around 10 weeks, for 5 minutes a day upon waking in the bathroom and I have noticed a massive improvement. You won’t be able to hold this for 5 minutes at first but you build up to it. It took me about 4 weeks to be able to do 5 minutes. I can do 6-7 minutes now.

2. Post-baby mummy-style exercises. Your stomach’s elongated lump must not be sticking out – you need to hold it in or perform an easier exercise. I will always put my hand there to check that my lump is not protruding out – this is really important as if it sticking out these exercises are not doing their job and you will not be repairing this wall. (you can see me putting my hand on my stomach in the video below) You do ONE of the following three exercises first:

Melissa performing single leg raises
Melissa performing single leg raises
  • Lie flat on your back with knees raised and lower legs horizontal almost parallel with the floor and feet up – then lower one leg down to the ground 10 times. Do the same with the other leg. You should perform this sequence 5 times. When you can perform this successfully without your lump sticking out you can progress to the next movement:
  • Lie flat on your back with knees raised and lower legs almost parallel with the floor and feet up. Lower both legs to the floor at the same time between 15 and 20 times. Perform this sequence 5 times. When you can do this successfully without your lump protruding out progress to the next move:
  • Lie flat on your back with legs straight along the floor and raise both legs towards the ceiling, keeping them straight then lower. Do this between 10 and 20 times. Again your lump must not protrude out (not shown in the video as I can’t do these yet without my lump protruding out!). If your stomach lump protrudes revert to the previous movement.
  • So after one of the three above exercises you perform a ‘semi’ sit up, lying flat on your back feet on the floor, knees bent you will put your hands near your knees flat on your legs and move up and down as shown in the video. You will perform this between 10 and 20 times without your stomach lump protruding out. If your stomach lump starts to protrude out – stop!
Leg raises with knees bent
Leg raises with knees bent
Leg raises with straight legs
Leg raises with straight legs
Half sit ups
Half sit ups

3. Planks. You will do the above exercises 3 or 4 times a week. And in between those days do 4 x 1-minute planks 3-4 times a week.

Melissa performing a plank
Melissa performing a plank

4. Wear a waist trainer. It will train your stomach and associated muscles to ‘hold in”. Wear it when you are in the gym and doing any exercise, although don’t wear it for the ab exercises. Here is a link to the waist trainer I wear on amazon:

To buy the waist trainer if you live in the USA follow this link to the Amazon USA websiteIt’s $23.99

If you live in the UK you can buy the waist trainer by following this link to the Amazon UK website. It’s £15.99

I browse the internet looking for the BEST fitness and weight loss products so that I can share that with you. When you buy through links on this site I may earn a commission.

5. Don’t neglect your diet. I guess you are reading this because you would like to improve the look of your stomach? Well, guess what, the BIGGEST way to improve your abs is to take care of what you are eating with a healthy whole foods diet. I spent years doing ab work without the right nutrition plan and it didn’t work! Nutrition is KEY to getting flat abs. There is no use tightening up all those muscles if it sits behind of wall of fat! You will want to reveal all your hard work, which means losing the fat. You can download a free meal plan here to find out what you should be eating.

So to recap, do stomach vacuums every day, then alternate days do post-baby mummy exercises, alternating with planks the other days. Wear a waist trainer and don’t forget your diet. This requires dedication, setting a routine and sticking to it.

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