What is Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis Recti (DR) is a condition in which the rectus abdominis muscles separate due to pregnancy, weight gain, or exercising with poor form. It is caused by consistent forward and forceful pressure, and can be the bane of many women who are trying to decrease the size of their tummy following pregnancy.
“Normal” abdominal muscles are usually held close together, in a DR they’re now separated. It’s commonly thought that at DR has width of at least two fingers, although it’s common to be as wide as 5-6 finger-widths, or even wider.
Likewise, where the connective tissue is normally strong and shallow, it can become weak and deep, as in “push your fingers into your belly” deep!
The most common cause of diastasis recti is pregnancy because the growing uterus puts pressure on the abdominal wall. This extreme stretching of the abdominal wall combined with the effect of the relaxin hormones create an increased laxity in the connective tissue of your abdominals, the linea alba.
Add to that, the hunched posture of any new mother (due to feeding, carrying their baby, rocking etc) reinforces the conditions that contribute to this separation.
You may think that hitting the gym and doing a load of core work would help you out, but unfortunately that is one of the worst things you can do when you have Diastasis Recti. So keep away from crunches (no need to ever do those anyway as they are bad for your back), planks, push-ups and anything that makes your stomach bulge outwards.
Because the abdominal muscles help support the back and organs, a separation will cause your support system to be weakened causing instability and pain. With diastasis recti, the connective tissue that runs down the center of the abdominals (the linea alba) becomes thin and your organs push forward, contributing to a bulging tummy and increasing hernia risk. The overall weakness also can contribute to digestive track issues, menstrual cycle issues, and pelvic floor problems..
You can find some good initial exercises here, or if your DR is bad I suggest contacting a physical therapist that specializes in postpartum recovery.
I strongly feel that Diastasis Recti is something that needs to be something that more mothers need to be aware off. So if you felt that this article helped you, please share with others so they can benefit too.