Diastasis Recti: What you need to know
Diastasis Recti is a condition, which occurs typically during pregnancy, whereby the connective tissue that holds the rectus abdominis together begins to seperate. This condition can also persist in males either congenitally or men that have a pendulous abdomen. I will speak mostly to this condition post-pregnancy, however, the treatment and solution are the same for both men and women. During pregnancy it is normal, however, post-pregnancy if it persists after several months and weeks it can be a sign of weakness in our core muscles.
The rectus abdominis is the most superficial layer of our abdominals; our 6 pack muscle. There are 3 other muscles that make up our abdominal group; the transerve abdominis- which is the deepest ab muscle and our internal and external obliques. These muscles work together with other muscles ie: diaphragm, pelvic floor and glutes to stabilize our back and hips during and after pregnancy.
This condition occurs due to excessive intra-abdominal pressure or loading.
How can I tell if I have diastasis recti after pregnancy?
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Relax your head and shoulders. Place your fingers (palm facing you) just above your belly button.
Lift your head, neck and shoulders slightly off the floor, press down with your fingertips. If you feel a gap, that’s the diastasis. You will feel the muscles close in around your fingers as you lift your head and neck. Don’t lift your shoulders up too high. Repeat the test in two other places: directly over the belly button and a couple of inches below.
You are aiming for a 1-2 finger gap or less. Immediately after pregnancy it is normal for this gap to measure larger, as the weeks go by keep checking and you should see the gap decrease to a 1-2 finger gap. If this doesn’t happen and the gap remains 3-4 finger widths – likely you have diastasis recti.
Your core is comprised of your Diaphragm, Pelvic Floor and Abdominal Wall
Exercise – Deep Abdominal Breathing. This is the first progression of several exercises that will engage all three core muscles.
Exercises to Avoid:
Oblique (twists) combined with crunches
‘Jack-knifes,’ pivoting at the hip + placing strain on the abdominals
Straight leg lifts