A diastasis recti (DR) occurs when the rectus abdominis, your 6-pack muscles, separate in the front of the body. This commonly occurs during pregnancy but can also be found in persons with stomach obesity. As the abdomen increases in size, it stretches the front abdominal wall leaving the linea alba (connective tissue between your abdominal muscles) vulnerable to separation.
The illustration below shows how there can be different variations of DR, but these demonstrate how it can compromise the front abdominal wall. The degree and severity of DR are unique to each individual and with each pregnancy.
Let us look at the real problem first, which is managing our intraabdominal pressure (the pressure of our core) when breathing and during exertion. Our abdominal muscles play a huge role in supporting the pelvis, the spine, aiding in our ability to breathe and supporting our internal organs. However, when we cannot manage the pressure in our abdomen, it will go to the area of ease which is most commonly to the abdominal wall or pelvic floor. When we are not well practiced in breathing with lifting or sitting up, especially when a baby is growing inside the belly, we can unintentionally hold our breath and bear down during exertion. This creates unbalanced pressure in our core canister and exacerbates the doming of the rectus abdominis and the DR.
Here are 3 tips to try during your pregnancy to manage DR:
1. Activity Modification: Learn how to log roll when getting up from laying down, exhale as you stand up and rely on your leg strength, ask for help with heavy lifting or try to minimize situations where your place excess pressure through abdomen and stay active where you can as this can decrease risk for developing severe cases of DR.
2. Posture Awareness: Focus on stacking your ribcage over your hips when standing, instead of leaning back and putting pressure through the abdominal wall.
3. Abdominal Training: Learn how to activate your transverse abdominis which will decrease the doming caused by the rectus abdominis. In the video below, I go over basic activation with breathing you can practice at any stage of pregnancy.
At Activcore, we can address DR prenatally, during pregnancy and postpartum and give you the tools you individually need to keep you moving your best. Contact us to speak with a physical therapist who can help.
Learn more by visiting our pelvic health page.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.