Diastasis Recti 101
WHAT IS DIASTASIS RECTI (aka Abdominal Muscle Separation)?
Pronounced DIE-A-STA-SIS, this is a condition where there is a separation (diastasis) of your outermost abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus). When these muscles separate, the connective tissue (linea alba) joining these muscles stretches sideways. This stretching makes condition of the connective tissue thinner AND weaker. Separation occurs above, at, and/or below the belly button, which is the WEAKEST spot of the connective tissue.
WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF THE RECTUS ABDOMINUS (RECTI) MUSCLES?
The function of the recti muscles is to support your belly button, back and organs. So, if these muscles are separated, then you definitely have a weak core!
The recti muscles need to be close together in order to function properly. A strong core is NOT possible with separated muscles! In other words, your midsection won’t come close to looking like a "six-pack" if your recti muscles are separated.
WHO HAS IT?
We all are born with a separation so everyone at least starts out with one…women, men and children. It generally closes around age 3 after your nervous system has developed. But in some cases, the diastasis doesn't fully close.
DO I HAVE A SEPARATION?
In general, if you've had abdominal surgery, had any abdominal hernias; have been pregnant; have had a "beer belly" for a long time; have an outie belly button or protruding belly; did gymnastics, swimming, tennis, golf, and/or yoga, Pilates and crunches on a regular basis; and/or experience back or hip pain, bloating after eating, or poor posture.
Specifically, if you've given birth, you have a 30-50% chance of having a separation! Each pregnancy will worsen your separation. This contributes to why you possibly show faster with each pregnancy. So, whether you had a vaginal delivery or C-section, in accommodating the growth of your baby, your uterus expands and the recti muscles separate. This separation is what primarily caused the connective tissue to be stretched out.
SELF-CHECK FOR A SEPARATION
The following video walks you through a self-check for width AND depth of your separation. Checking for width AND depth are necessary. Some women who may have significant depth, even if they significantly closed their separation, may still have a pooch.
Be sure to check your belly in the THREE following locations and record them in a journal:
- 1-2 inches below your navel
- at your naval
- 1-2 inches above your naval
HOW DID I GET A SEPARATION?
Because our belly button is the weakest spot on the connective tissue, the recti muscles may have re-separated with continuous intra-abdominal force on and stretching of the connective tissue. Some causes (of re-separation) may include:
• Weight gain in your midsection
• Improperly breathing
• Doing exercises such as crunches and planks (please STOP doing these!)
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SIGNS THAT I HAVE A SEPARATION?
Countless people have it and are unaware that they have it! Some symptoms include:
• Mommy tummy
• Regular lower back pain
• Digestive issues (constipation, bloat, IBS, etc.)
• Pelvic floor issues (urinary incontinence, uterine prolapse, painful sex, etc.)
• Umbilical hernia
HOW DO I HEAL MY SEPARATION?
There are three ways to heal the thinner and weaker connective tissue:
1. POSITIONING the connective tissue and putting the recti muscles in proper starting position with belly binding. This provides support to your lower back and brings better blood flow to the connective tissue.
2. PROTECTING the connective tissue from being further stretched in your activities of daily living (including exercising) by engaging your recti muscles; &
3. STRENGTHENING the transverse muscle (TVA) with "separation safe" exercises (avoid facing down positions, arching your lower back, and forward crossover movements).
CLICK HERE TO VIEW BELLY THERAPY PROGRAMS