Let's Talk About the Split- Diastasis Recti FAQs you need to know
Recently I've been getting a lot of questions on what Diastasis Recti is and how to cure it.
Diastasis Recti is the splitting of the rectus abdominis at the linea alba (a piece of connective tissue that normally keeps the midline of the rectus abdominis intact).
Here are the basics:
There is no known cause for DR. It can be the result of poor posture, improper breathing technique, genetics, stress from previous pregnancies, and of course, exercise. It is believed that DR is a normal part of pregnancy that 95+% of expecting parents will experience. I've seen a diastasis in my non-pregnant clients from body-builders, men, and younger women who are not TTC.
THERE IS NO CURE FOR DIASTASIS RECTI. If anyone tells you they can cure your DR, they are trying to sell you something. Belly bands, medications, or diets do not cure DR. Even some of the top researchers of DRA and physical therapists from all over the world have a hard time getting the "gap" below 2cm. You can, however, avoid surgery and live a perfectly happy life with a postpartum DRA. Many techniques to help reduce a DRA will also lessen your back pain, pelvic dysfunction symptoms, and flatten your waistline, even if that >2cm gap is still there.
Your linea alba is a connective tissue (fascia) that essentially holds your "six pack muscles" together above and below your belly button. So we can stretch and strengthen the surrounding muscles to help restore the tear.
An integrated approach of posture, breathing, corrective exercise, and stretching can help repair the split over time.
Most women experience some form of DR after pregnancy, but only a gap wider than 2cm is considered significant. A slight diastasis will likely heal itself over time. This is why it is so critical to avoid the exercises that will make it worse when resuming exercise postpartum.
Stretch marks, C-sections, and loose skin are not a cause or result of DR.
How to check for Diastasis Recti
(Please do not attempt to do this while pregnant or early postpartum, as this can contribute to it.)
Lay on your back on the floor and place one hand behind your head, as if you're about to do a crunch. Place your other hand on your belly button. Take a deep inhale, and as you exhale, lift your head and contract your abdominals. Feel above and below your belly button. Distasis Recti will feel like a gap larger than 2 fingertips wide either above or below your belly button.
You might also see and feel a small bulge in the center of your belly (it will feel soft and look like something "peeking out" of your abs).
Diastasis Recti can be prevented by establishing regular core work before and during pregnancy and by avoiding certain exercises. Exercises that cause pressure in the abdominal wall (crunches, full planks, deep rotations, and breathholding, for example) can cause the linea alba to stretch, resulting in a diastasis.
Why is this so important?
A split in the abdominal wall can result in back pain, pelvic pain, poor posture, loss of balance, and obviously, a weak core. Many women also find a diastasis unsightly, as it can sometimes look like a "pooch".
For exercises that can help heal your DR and prevent DR during pregnancy, please visit my workouts page.
Questions? Please send me a message here.