Diastasis Recti

What is Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis Recti, otherwise known as an abdominal separation, is the distancing of the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscles.  The sepraration or gap occurs in the tissue in between the recti – the line alba.  I like to refer to it as a gap so you don’t think your muscles are cut or separated.  We all have a gap or distance between our two recti muscles.  But if this gap is over 2.7 cm or two fingerwidths, it’s considered diastasis recti.

Diastasis recti can occur in anybody.  But since you happen to be on a website made for moms, we will be focusing on diastasis recti during pregnancy and after pregnancy.

Research has shown that 30-60% of pregnant women can have diastasis recti.[1][2]

Diastasis Recti After Pregnancy

You can use this diastasis recti self test to check for this abdominal separation.  Then make sure you get a diagnosis from  your OB.

There are several movements and exercises you can do during pregnancy.  But in most cases the diastasis recti cannot be healed until the baby is no longer adding pressure to the tissues.

But what kind of exercise can be done?  Because it is the intra-abdominal pressure that caused the gap between the recti muscle to further in the first place, we will assume we should not add extra  pressure, i.e. traditional ab exercises.

During pregnancy, most ab exercises are not recommended because the intra-abdominal pressure (the baby) is continuing to grow!  Some research indicates traditional abdominal exercises should not be done. While anecdotal and other research indicates abdominal exercises should be performed.  Currently there is no industry standard.  So does this mean you are out of luck?  No!

I recommend some transverse abodminis exercises, postural changes, pelvic floor exercises and stretches.   It is always best to see a professional one-on-one for your specific needs (your doctor might recommend a physical therapist or physiotherapist).  We have a full library of Diastasis-Friendly workouts.

Overall what research shows:

Non-exercising women tend to not better their diastasis recti.

Exercising women tend to better their diastasis recti.

 

After pregnancy if you are left with this abdominal gap – it does not always mean you need surgery. There are some exercises and stretches you can do to narrow this gap. But know that doing traditional core exercises like crunches can make it worse and may not help it heal. Because your abs are no longer contracting effectively, you need to heal your muscles from the inside out starting with the pelvic floor and transverse abdominis.  Check out exercises for diastasis recti after pregnancy.

For fitness professionals, we cover this topic more extensively in our Prenatal & Postnatal Fitness course.

Check out our library of Diastasis-Friendly workouts.

 

[1] http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2016/06/20/bjsports-2016-096065.full, accessed August 1 2016
[2] Boissonnault JS. Incidence of diastasis recti abdominis during the childbearing year. Phys Ther (1988).

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