Diastasis Recti (also known as abdominal separation) is commonly defined as a gap between the two sides of the Rectus Abdominis muscle.
It is very common in pregnancy, but can also occur in men and in women who have never been pregnant.
If you want to know whether you have diastasis recti, you can perform this simple test at home.
What is the Rectus Abdominis?
The Rectus Abdominis is only ONE of FOUR layers of abdominal muscles:
- The Transverse Abdominis (deepest muscle layer)
- The Interior and Exterior Obliques (next 2 layers) that form your waist
- The Rectus Abdominis is on the outside.
The distance between the right and left Rectus Abdominis muscles is created by the stretching of the Linea Alba, a connective collagen sheath created by the aponeurosis insertions of Transverse Abdominis, Internal Oblique and External Oblique.
What causes Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis Recti (DR) is the result of excessive intra-abdominal pressure or loading.
Pregnancy does not ‘cause’ a diastasis. It is simply that the increased load and further shifts in alignment of pregnancy exacerbate the root problem – that of excessive, ‘un-contained’ intra-abdominal pressure.
100% of women have some level of diastasis of the rectus abdominis in the third trimester.(Gilliard and Brown 1996, Diane Lee 2013)
Women are more susceptible to develop DR when over the age of 35, high birth weight of child, multiple birth pregnancy, and multiple pregnancies.
Diastasis Recti is a symptom of excessive and unsupported intra-abdominal pressure
This is the same state that creates other pelvic and abdominal problems including hernia and prolapse.
Typically, the separation of the abdominal muscles will lessen within the first 8 weeks after childbirth. However, the connective tissue remains stretched for many postpartum women. The weakening of the abdominal muscles and the reduced force transmission from the stretched linea alba may also make it difficult to lift objects, and cause lower back pain.
Additional complications can manifest in weakened pelvic alignment and altered posture.
Importantly, for many women the gap remains widened at 8 weeks, and if left untreated, this distance at 8 weeks remains unchanged at 1 year postpartum. (Coldron et al 2008, Liaw et al 2011)
66% of women with diastasis recti have some level of pelvic floor dysfunction (Spitznagle et al 2007). Diastasis recti and pelvic floor problems tend to go together.
The Abdominal Raphe (seam of tissue structures that form the meeting point of the 2 sides of all the core musculature) no longer provides tension and stability. Because ALL the muscles of the abdomen- Transversalis, internal and external obliques, as well as Rectus Abdominis – meet at this centre midline, all are compromised, meaning that this lack of protection and stability affects the whole body both aesthetically and functionally.
How can you treat Diastasis Recti?
DR should be treated as part of an integrated program designed to re-align, re-connect and then strengthen the entire core musculature, rather than be addressed in isolation (and rather than focusing only on ‘closing the gap’).
It is a good idea to work with a trained health professional at first, to ensure that you are doing the exercises with correct form, and that all parts of your body are being addressed and brought into alignment and balance. Not all core strengthening exercises are suitable for those with DR, and so it is worthwhile checking out what you should be doing with a qualified trainer or coach before you begin.
If you live near Twickenham, I can provide personal training sessions focusing on core stability, pelvic floor health and diastasis recti. You can book a session with me here.
If you do not live near me, and/or you are not able to work with a trainer at this time, then I recommend MuTuSystem, to help you strengthen your core and reverse the symptoms of DR. MuTu is short for mummy tummy and MuTuSystem is a 12 week home study programme which takes you through a series of gentle exercises which work together to strngthen and rebuild your core and pelvic floor.
Here is a video trailer so you can see what you can expect with the MuTu programme. In addition if you buy your Mutu programme before 15th January 2017 you will receive a 15% discount
So if you are fed up with your mummy tummy and want to improve your core stability or pelvic floor this year, there are two things you can do . Either come and see me, or get yourself a MuTu programme.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to MuTu system. I will receive commission if you buy this product. I will only post affiliate links to products that I wholeheartedly endorse and would use myself.
Rachel Law is a personal fitness trainer based in New Malden, Surrey. Qualifications: ActivIQ Level 3 Personal Training; Burrell Education Pregnancy Exercise Prescription; Burrell Education Advanced Pregnancy Wellness Practitioner; Burrell Education Advanced Post Natal Exercise Prescription; Burrell Education 3rd Age Women Optimal Health and Nutrition; Burrell Education Peri Natal Athlete; Burrell Education Pelvic Flow and Freedom; Olympic Weight Lifting; Premier Global Kettlebells; FIE Level Assessment and Mentoring