Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti

Diastasis recti is a separation in the rectus abdominis muscles in the abdomen.  The split occurs at the linea alba which is the connective tissue which connects the two sections of the rectus abdominis (“6-pack”) abdominal muscle.

Diastasis recti occurs in women during pregnancy.  One hundred percent of women have some level of diastasis in the third trimester and the split in the rectus abdominis musculature is a normal part of pregnancy due to the effect of relaxin hormones on the connective tissues that occurs during pregnancy.

Diastasis recti can become problematic when the split in the musculature is persistent more than 8-12 weeks post-partum.  Studies show that about 40% of women have a diastasis at 6 months postpartum and 66% of women who have a diastasis also have some level of pelvic floor dysfunction.

Diastasis recti can be corrected with core rehabilitation focusing on regaining neuro-muscular control of the abdominal muscles and relearning how to use them correctly in all aspects of your life.  It is important to understand which exercises are helpful as “traditional” core strengthening exercises, such as sit-ups, crunches and oblique twists, can make the diastasis worse.  Physical therapy is an effective way to manage symptoms and improve functional mobility when a diastasis recti is present by working on: postural training, stretching, bracing and education.

Diastasis recti is not a condition that can be prevented as it is a natural consequence of pregnancy but physical therapy can help with your postpartum recovery.  If your diastasis recti is still present at 8-12 weeks postpartum, ask your physician for a referral to physical therapy as the earlier you see a physical therapist, the faster you will be on the road to recovery!

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