Diastasis Recti in Children?

Have you been looking to lose that Mummy Tummy ever since that last baby of yours? Did you know it could be the results of Diastasis Recti—separated outer abdominal muscles? Did you know it doesn’t just affect moms?

Julie Tupler, Registered Nurse, Certified Childbirth Educator and Certified Personal Trainer, has seen diastasis recti in children and the technique she developed for moms can help them too.

child doing crunches

Diastasis Recti Is a Condition that Does Effect Children Too

written by Julie Tupler, RN, Diastasis Rehab

The condition diastasis recti does not favor separating just pregnant women’s abdominal muscles! Yes, men and children can have a diastasis also!

How is that possible?

Well, for starters, everyone is born with their muscles separated. Usually around 3 years old after the development of the nervous system, they come together. I say “come together” instead of “close” because the weak spot (belly button) in the connective tissue joining the outer most abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis) make the muscles at risk for opening.

The outermost abdominal muscles are the support system for the back and the organs. When they separate, the connective tissue joining them stretches sideways and becomes weaker.  So now it is the weak connective tissue, not muscles, ineffectively supporting the back and muscles. This causes both back and gastro intestinal problems.

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diastasis recti tupler techniqueNew York Magazine calls her the guru for pregnant women. Julie Tupler is a Registered Nurse, Certified Childbirth Educator and Certified Personal Trainer. She developed the Maternal Fitness® Program in 1990 and for more than 20 years has been teaching and developing the Tupler Technique® Program for treatment of diastasis recti for women, men and children.

It is important for children to learn at an early age (five years old and up) how to strengthen their abdominal muscles correctly. The way some children are being taught in school to develop their abdominal muscles is potentially negatively affecting their health and well-being!

We all know that developing a strong physical core is crucial. We use our core in virtually everything we do that involves movement—even sitting up in bed. You cannot have a strong core with separated muscles.  Unfortunately, a significant number of children have a weak core because of a diastasis recti. Signs of a diastasis are a protruding belly and belly button.

Is it a bad thing?

If a child has separated abdominal muscles, his or her developing spine and organs won’t be supported. Diastasis Recti has even been linked to Central Coordination Disorder (CCD), a condition that results in delayed motor development.

Even if a child’s muscles do close, they can easily separate again if the child performs exercises that put force and pressure on the connective tissue joining the muscles. Crunches, which are taught in some schools, do exactly that and thus re-open closed muscles or make already separated muscles spread even further apart. So tell your child’s gym teacher you do not want them to do crunches.

It is important to close a diastasis at an early age by teaching children how to strengthen their abdominal muscles correctly so they will have a stronger core and a better foundation for their future. I have thus created the Belly Button Boogie DVD and guidebook to teach children this program.  It covers the 4 steps of the research based Tupler Technique® as well as how to incorporate the Tupler Technique® into an exercise routine and how to modify the exercise program so it is “diastasis safe.”

For more information about Belly Button Boogie, please visit my website at www.DiastasisRehab.com

20 Comments
  • janelle
    Posted at 06:39h, 15 July Reply

    Do you have a program for children under 1yr to help with separated stomach muscles. Or can you advise when he should be strong enough. Our 10month old is no where near sitting by himself and needs padding for the highchair. He is getting stronger but wondering if there is anything else we could be doing other then lots of tummy play. He is quite mobile commando crawling, but gets he frustrated that he can’t do what his twin sister can do.

    • Amie
      Posted at 10:15h, 15 July Reply

      As far as I understand it’s not usually concern as the muscles naturally get closer as the child ages. Usually about 3 years old they come together after the nervous system develops more. From my experience with three kids of my own, they all develop and gain strength at their own pace. If you want more diastasis information specifically you can contact Julie at the website linked at the bottom of this post. She is the one who wrote this post and is hands on with healing diastasis.

    • Sam
      Posted at 15:06h, 31 January Reply

      I have separated stomach muscles as a 14’yr old teenager. Is this bad? If so, how could I treat it and would I need an operation?

  • V calotychos
    Posted at 00:43h, 14 January Reply

    What do you recommend for a ten year old? My daughter will start pilates, i am hoping this will help her. Thank you for your post.

    • Amie
      Posted at 10:05h, 14 January Reply

      If you want more diastasis information specifically you can contact Julie at the website linked at the bottom of this post. She is the one who wrote this post and is hands on with healing diastasis.

  • Angie Ouellet
    Posted at 18:29h, 24 January Reply

    Hi
    We have a 2 year old that has Diastasis and was wondering if we should worry or if we should do something now to help heal and gain strength so he won’t have issues later on?
    Thanks
    Angie

    • Amie
      Posted at 09:31h, 25 January Reply

      What I understand from the nurse/certified trainer who wrote the blog, it’s not usually concern as the muscles naturally get closer as the child ages. Usually about 3 years old they come together after the nervous system develops more. If you want more diastasis information specifically you can contact the author, Julie, at https://www.diastasisrehab.com/contact. Have a great day! – Amie

  • Michelle
    Posted at 03:04h, 16 August Reply

    My daughter turns 7 in 2 months and has had diasastis from birth. Her muscles have never closed. The doctors have said its just the way she is. Her stomach looks as though she is constantly bloated. (She actually likes her ‘little fat belly’) She has also suffered severe constipation from birth too. She’s been on laxatives from birth and had , surpositorities and even had enema’s at hospital. She cries with stomach pains from constipation and I have to hold her hand every time she has a bowel moment because it’s so painful. She can go a week without a bowel moment. Mothers instinct has always told me that the diasastis and the bowel problem are linked, however I get told differently! I keep reading that if the muscles aren’t closed by age 3/4 then the child should have surgery. Vanity isn’t something I’m into, myself and my daughter aren’t bothered by her ‘bloated’ looking belly, so I would never get her surgery for that reason. However i would if it was causing her bowel problems. She does gymnastics so she is constantly exercising.
    I hate the thought that the diasastis might be causing her bowel problem and the constant straining from the constipation will cause a strangulated hernia. I don’t know what to do.

    • Amie
      Posted at 11:17h, 16 August Reply

      You may consider contacting Julie, the nurse who wrote this article, for more diastasis information specifically and perhaps get some advice and course of action at https://www.diastasisrehab.com/contact. Have a great day!

    • anna bir
      Posted at 03:19h, 21 April Reply

      I know this may be late. Look at dietary changes for constipation. Slow down on the dairy ad refined carbs. Increase on fruits. As much as she wishes to eat. Buy fruit that is sweet and tastes good. Pears are especially good. Water intake is important too.

  • Jean Micherlange
    Posted at 06:59h, 24 August Reply

    My son is one year and half he’s diastasis recti what can I do for him the Dr didn’t give me any medication

    • Amie
      Posted at 11:30h, 24 August Reply

      What I understand from the nurse/certified trainer who wrote the blog, it’s not usually concern as the muscles naturally get closer as the child ages. Usually about 3 years old they come together after the nervous system develops more. You may consider contacting Julie, the nurse who wrote this article, for more diastasis information specifically and perhaps get some advice and course of action at https://www.diastasisrehab.com/contact. Have a great day!

  • Jaeda
    Posted at 09:48h, 26 August Reply

    my daughter is 13, excersise a lot but has a round beer looking belly. how can I tell if she has diastasis and how can we fix it if she does.

  • Sam
    Posted at 15:08h, 31 January Reply

    I have separated stomach muscles as a 14’yr old teenager. Is this bad? If so, how could I treat it and would I need an operation?

    • Amie
      Posted at 15:29h, 31 January Reply

      I believe nurse Julie who wrote this article would say you could heal it with her system and not need an operation. You may consider contacting Julie, the nurse who wrote this article, for more diastasis information specifically and perhaps get some advice and course of action at https://www.diastasisrehab.com/contact. Have a great day!

  • Ellie Chartrand
    Posted at 17:59h, 10 June Reply

    Hello,

    I’ve had this problem literally my entire life. When I was 8 years old my family told me to suck it in. That’s what I did, that’s what I’ve done my whole life. I’m 41, I have no children. What can I do at home, what exercise’s can I do to actually bring those muscles together? Is it even possible after all this time? Please help.

  • Concerned Parent
    Posted at 08:43h, 08 September Reply

    Hi
    My daughter is 9 years old and we just noticed that she has a bulge in her stomach. Looks like a muffin top but by her belly button. The crease goes horizontal not vertical and she has some kind of indent on her right upper abdomen. I came across diastasis recti, do you think this is what it is? is it common for 9 year old girls? what can i do about it to help fix it?

    • Amie
      Posted at 12:25h, 08 September Reply

      It may be a more severe situation of a true herniated muscle and the bulge could be internal organs. You should contact her child’s doctor urgently.

      If it proves to be diastasis recti, you may consider contacting Julie, the nurse who wrote this article, for more diastasis information specifically and perhaps get some advice and course of action at https://www.diastasisrehab.com/contact. Have a great day!

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