Diastasis Recti: Everything You Need to Know

The rectus abdominis muscles are found on the abdomen and are commonly referred to as the abs or “6 pack” muscles. There is a small band of tissue, called the linea alba, that connects the right and left side of the rectus abdominis muscles and is located at the midline of the body.

Definition

Diastasis recti is a condition in which there is a weakening of the linea alba allowing for an abnormally large separation between the rectus abdominis muscles. This widening of the linea alba allows for bulging of the abdomen and an appearance of still appearing pregnant after delivery.

Diagnosis

Diastasis recti is usually diagnosed through a physical examination with your doctor.

  • You may lay on the exam table with the abdomen exposed and slowly perform a sit up, causing the rectus abdominis muscles to contract. With diastasis recti, there would be a bulge at the location of the linea alba, between the two rectus muscles.
  • Measurements may also be taken at different levels of the linea alba during contraction and rest of the rectus muscles to determine the distance and if this exceeds the normal width of the linea alba.

If the diagnosis is not apparent on exam, but there is a question about diastasis recti, an ultrasound can be performed to better visualize the linea alba and any separation of this tissue.

Causes

Pregnancy can increase the risk for the development of diastasis recti, but this does not mean all women who are pregnant will develop diastasis recti. The linea alba and rectus muscles are stretched during pregnancy due to weight gain and increase in abdominal girth. This increase causes the pressure of the abdomen to increase and the further stretching of the linea alba, potentially leading to diastasis recti. During the postpartum periods,the linea alba can either decrease, stay the same, or increase. If there continues to be separation between 3-6 months postpartum, the diastasis recti will likely not close without treatment.

 

Treatment

The treatment of diastasis recti is aimed at strengthening the abdominal muscles and offloading pressure of the abdominal muscles.

  • A postpartum exercise program, as well as the Tupler method, which is use of an abdominal binder.
  • Bellefit abdominal binders work to improve diastasis recti by taking the pressure away from the abdominal muscles, in turn, allowing for the tissue to rest and heal.
    • The abdominal binders are typically worn for 18 weeks with an exercise program started after 6 weeks.
  • The exercise program is aimed at strengthening the abdominal muscles.

Prognosis

The majority of women that are diagnosed with diastasis recti that use an abdominal binder in conjunction with abdominal strengthening exercises, can typically heal their diastasis recti. For the small subset of women that are unable to heal with conservative therapy, there are several surgical options available.

 

Advertisements

Diastasis Recti

Video testimonial of Faith describing her Diastasis-Recti and recovery.

Pronunciation:

dye-uh-STAY-siss REK-tye

Also Known As:

diastasis, abdominal separation

Definition:

Diastasis recti is a condition where the right and left sides of the rectus abdominus (the muscle that makes up the front wall of the abdominals, also known as the “six-pack” muscle) spread apart at the body’s midline. Diastasis negatively affects the strength of the abdominal wall and can aggravate lower back pain.

Bellefit helps with diastasis

What causes Diastasis?

Abdominal separation occurs most often in response to the force of the uterus pushing against the abdominal wall during pregnancy, but can also happen when there is an extreme over-abundance of sub-muscular (visceral) abdominal fat. In pregnancy, hormones are also partially to blame, as they can soften connective tissue, allowing the separation to occur more easily.

Risks of developing diastasis are greater in women who:

  • are expecting more than one baby
  • have had abdominal separation with a previous pregnancy
  • are very petite
  • have a pronounced sway back or poor abdominal muscle tone

Genetics are also a factor in predisposing some women to this condition.

How do I recognize Diastasis?

While some mothers discover they have it during pregnancy, others don’t find out until after birth. It happens to mothers whether they deliver their babies naturally or with a cesarean section. You will develop a gap or space below your navel and will notice a small mound protruding at your midline.

What are the complications?

Without treatment, muscular separation can cause some common health problems including: chronic pain in the waistline, back pain and an alteration of your posture due to a lack of abdominal strength and support.

Treatment:

There are simple ways to treat a muscular separation after giving birth to your baby. Basic abdominal exercises prove to be very helpful along with the use of a Post Partum Girdle or Corset which reduces recovery time diminishes complications caused by muscle separation and adds the esthetic benefit of helping you return to your pre-pregnancy figure. Even without diastasis, post natal women need adequate core strength and stability for proper lifting and carrying. Your BelleFit Girdle or Corset will give you the support you need.

Will I Recover from Diastasis Recti?:

Unfortunately, flurries of misconception swirl around the issue of abdominal reconditioning-and particularly abdominal separation/diastasis recti-after pregnancy. You’re likely to encounter a broad range of contradictory opinions and advice about how to recondition your abdominal wall and how to restore the midline after childbirth. Some of these assertions can cause unnecessary alarm, while another common piece of advice-do a lot of “crunches”-can actually worsen abdominal separation/diastasis recti.

Diastasis Recti Test

This simple self-test will help you determine if you have abdominal separation/diastasis recti and how severe it is.

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
2. Place one hand behind your head and the other hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips across your midline –parallel with your waistline – at the level of your belly button.
3. With your abdominal wall relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
4. Roll your upper body off the floor into a “crunch”, making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis.
5. Move your fingertips back and forth across your midline, feeling for the right and left sides of your Rectus Abdominis muscle.

Special Precautions for Women with Diastasis Recti/Abdominal Separation

Avoid all activities that place stress on the midline, that stretch or overly expand the abdominal wall through everyday activities, exercise or inhalation techniques.

Some Types of Movement to Avoid

  • Movements where the upper body twists and the arm on that side reaches backward, such as during a tennis serve.
  • Exercises that require lying backward over a large exercise ball.
  • Yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as “cow pose”, “up dog”, all backbends and “belly breathing”
  • Most traditional abdominal exercises that work the exterior abdominal muscles, such as crunches and oblique curls.
  • All exercises that cause your abdominal wall to bulge out upon exertion.
  • Rising from a supine position by rolling up and twisting at the same time. Instead, roll first onto your side, and then use your arms to help push yourself up to a sitting position.
  • Lifting and carrying very heavy objects.
  • Intense coughing while your muscles are unsupported

Diastasis Recti and Coughing or Sneezing

If after childbirth you develop a cough from allergies or a respiratory illness, such as a cold or flu, instead of placing your hands across your belly and manually splint your abdomen together during coughing episodes, you may use your BelleFit Girdle or Corset. This will provide needed additional support, and prevent further separation of your midline.