Can I swim with Diastasis Recti?

This is something I get asked a lot in our private Facebook workout group (which you can join here)

There is a lot of conflicting information out there about swimming and diastasis recti.

 

A lot of physical therapists say you can't swim with diastasis recti.

 

I personally believe that you can swim with diastasis recti, in fact I think it is one of the best exercises because it is low impact and naturally elongates your core and allows you to engage the transverse muscle.

 

It also allows you to get into positions you don't normally use helping to stretch and strengthen other muscles.

 

However, there are some EXCEPTIONS!

Read below, and watch the video to make sure swimming is okay for you and that your technique is not going to cause your diastasis to get worse.

 


Don't know if you have Diastas Recti? Here is how you can self-test here

Do I have Diastasis Recti?
 

Why do PT's say NOT to swim with Diastasis Recti?

I think the main reason people are told not to swim with diastasis recti is because some swimming postures can cause our ribs to flare.
 

In order for our diastasis to come together our pelvis and rib cage need to line up.

The elongated postion of swimming (arms above our heads) can pull your ribs up and out into a flared position, which also takes the TVAs up and out putting the diastasis tn a stretched position.

So this means if your shoulders are internally rotated and your shoulder mobility is limited you will need to work on this BEFORE going swimming.

How do I know if I have tight shoulders?

Here are a couple of things to look at before you jump into the pool:

1) Are you able to engage your TVAs and keep your ribs down, when standing?
Don't know how to engage your TVAs, check out week 1 of the free beginners program HERE

2) Can you lift both arms over your head whilst keeping your TVAs engaged and ribs down?

3) Have someone take a photo of you front on - are your shoulders symmetrical or is one side lower than the other or twisted?

Swimming has a lot of repetition so you want to make sure you are repeating a good pattern not making asymmetry worse!

Watch this video for checks for individual strokes, and tips on what to check for

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Lets look at the different strokes

First make sure you have watched the above video as it gives you more information on each stroke.

Freestyle/Front crawl

  • Don't twist from the waist, make sure you "roll" onto your side

  • Breathe out as you bring your arm down through the water

  • Rib flaring happens most often as the arm goes back and on the overhead reach, so relax the arm and concentrate on keeping the rib cage down on the reach

  • Don't over extend on the reach

Breaststroke

  • Don't let your arms go out too wide

  • Don't arch your back

Backstroke

  • This is a hard stroke to get right, as it is easy to arch your back and flare your ribs

  • Need to work on your range of motion on dry land BEFORE attempting in the water

  • Don't arch to reach overhead, instead roll slightly onto your side

  • Keep your head still

  • Exhale as your arm goes down into the water and engage your TVAs

Kick board/Flutter board

  • Can flare your ribs due to holding the board above your head which can cause your back to arch

  • If you feel like you are arching your back and pushing out your belly DON'T USE it

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