What is diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti (DR) is defined as a separation of the abdominal muscles away from the midline of the belly. This can be seen in pregnancy and the post partum belly and is thought to occur due to the combination of hormonal changes and the growing baby pressing against the abdominal wall.
A small amount of stretching with pregnancy is considered normal however if the abdominals remain separated 8 weeks post partum, you may have a bigger problem. Some research has reported that spontaneous healing of a separation occurs within the first 8 weeks post partum, however after that point no further improvements were noted without intervention.
How do I know if I have it?
At this time, the research is limited when defining what is a normal “gap” and what is considered a problematic DR The following symptoms can indicate that you may have DR.
• If you notice a bump/pooch/tenting along the midline of your abdomen when you do any kind of “sit up” activity
• If you feel like your belly gets bigger and heavier throughout the day or if your belly continues to look pregnant post partum
• Positive crunch test:
o Laying on your back with your knees bent up, tilt your head into a crunch and feel along the midline of your abdominals, if you feel your fingers go deep and you can fit more than 2 across the midline, this is generally considered a positive finding
How do I fix it?
Luckily, DR is not a permanent problem and can be managed and corrected effectively with the guidance of a pelvic health therapist. A pelvic physiotherapist can help determine why your abdominals have not gone back together and ultimately help you get your core back – maybe even stronger than before!
3 exercises generally considered safe to do with a DR:
Transverse abdominal activation
3 exercises that may actually make your DR worse:
Crunches or curl up task
As a general rule, if you feel your stomach “pooching” during any exercise or day to day activity, you should avoid this- it’s your body’s way of telling you that you’re core is not strong enough for these movements.
Working with a pelvic health therapist, you can learn to connect with your core properly and get better faster!