Diastasis Recti: Closing the Gap
Diastasis Recti is a condition we see commonly in the clinic. Most often it’s associated with pregnancy and the post partum times, but did you know that it can affect anyone? While can be considered a cosmetic issue, it is a major warning sign that a more serious issue with the core is going on. Lets learn a little more about this common condition.
What is it?
We all have a line down the middle of our body, that separates the two halves of the outer layer of abdominal muscles. It runs from the breast bone to the pubic bone. Diastasis recti occurs when there is a separation or widening between the two sides of of the muscles. Everyone has a little bit of a gap, but it is considered more of a problem when it’s 2 fingers wide or more.
What causes it?
Diastasis recti is common in pregnancy due to two things:
1. The growing belly that pushes out against the abdominal musculature, thinning the connective tissue.
2. The maternal hormones that cause the connective tissues to become softer and more flexible can promote laxity in the structures.
It is something that naturally happens to a degree during pregnancy, and after the baby is born, should come back to normal if your core was in balance before pregnancy. It is worth noting that in many studies, women who were active before pregnancy and continued that exercise throughout their pregnancy tend to be less likely to suffer with diastasis recti. But this is not always the case.
Outside of pregnancy, it can be caused by overdoing it on the wrong abdominal exercises, such as traditional sit-ups or crunches and/or weak deep abdominal musculature. It is not just about weak muscles though. An imbalance in the muscles of the abdomen, and your overall posture can also contribute.
Why is it a problem?
When you have a diastasis that continues for months after pregnancy, it is a problem. It is a sign that your core musculature is not working properly. If you’re wondering why you need your core working properly, here are a couple reasons to consider:
- Many who have diastasis recti also have or will have pelvic floor issues including urinary incontinence.
- A weak core can lead to ongoing lower back, sacroiliac joint, and symphysis pubis pain
How can we help?
Diastasis can be helped by improving your function and removing any imbalances in the core musculature. Some of you may be thinking, I know other women who are very fit and still have diastasis, what about them?? The answer to that would be that just because someone exercises, does not mean that their core is actually functioning properly and that they know how to properly activate and brace their core during exercise, breathing, and normal day to day activities. They may be loading their core in a way that is contributing to more tension (in the wrong way) on that front part of the abdominal muscles.
It’s important to seek expert advice if you are struggling to get your core back after pregnancy. Look for a practitioner that will take a varied approach to getting you functioning better as a whole to help get your core back in balance! For more information check out this book from Katy Bowman.
Yours in Health,
Specialising in Pregnancy and Post Pregnancy Care