Abdominal Separation (diastasis recti) symptoms and treatment

What is Diastasis Recti ?

Diastasis Recti is known by many names:

  • Diastasis of the Rectus Abdominis Muscle (DRAM)
  • Separated stomach muscles
  • Abdominal separation
  • Ab separation

We think that Dr Carolyn Tayor offers one of the simplest explanations available:

“Diastasis of the Rectus Abdominis Muscle (DRAM) or Diastasis Recti is more commonly referred to as Abdominal Separation and effects the rectus abdominis muscle – which is the muscle at the front of the abdomen, which runs from the ribcage to the pubic bone. In well trained people, it is the ‘6-pack’ muscle. The join in the middle of the rectus abdominis muscle is called the linea alba. “

How do you get Diastasis Recti

Abdominal separation can occur during and after pregnancy and is caused by the stretching and separation of the linea alba (a fibrous structure that runs down the middle of the abdomen) above and / or below the navel (tummy button). This separation can vary in both length and width from a few mm’s to over 12 cm’s in larger separations.

What are Diastasis Recti symptoms?

You can check if you are suffering from Diastasis Recti during and post pregnancy.

  • First we would suggest that you like on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor in a comfortable position.
  • Put the palm of your hands on top of you stomach with your fingertips gently pressing into your skin.
  • Gently press your fingertips into the top of your stomach while raising your head off the floor, moving your chin towards your knees (in a similar way to when you do a stomach crunch) as this will cause your stomach muscles (rectus abdominis) to contract.
  • Repeat this gentle exercise while moving your fingertips above and below your navel (belly button) and try to feel if their is a gap between your abdominal muscles and if it is constantly the same width or if it gets wider/narrower us you move your fingers.
  • If you feel a gap between your abdominal muscles (abs), it may be that you have Diastasis Recti and we would recommend you arrange a visit to your Doctor to confirm.

How to treat Diastasis Recti

The severity of Diastasis Recti can vary hugely from very minor abdominal separation that will normally fix itself naturally to severe separation that may require surgery. The majority of cases are classed as minor to medium and do not require surgery but can be helped with exercises. A good physiotherapist will be able to offer you a variety of effective exercises that you can do to strengthen your core muscles. Supportive shorts, for example Women’s Supacore CORETECH® can help provide the support you need to protect your pelvis and lower back when getting back into exercise.

Tips to help treat Diastasis Recti

  1. Consult a specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist.
  2. Do exercises to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and transversus abdominis muscles.
  3. Avoid sit ups – these put more strain on the rectus abdominus and the separation.
  4. Consider finding a good Pilates instructor and try Pilates specifically aimed at new Mums.
  5. Avoid lifting heavy things over about 5-10kg.

References:

https://supacore.com/blogs/blogs/during-and-post-pregnancy-management-of-abdominal-separation

https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/linea+alba

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