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What is Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti is the separation of your abdominal muscles due to thinning of the midline tissues that connect the right and left sides. This is common noticed during the 3rd trimester of your pregnancy and into your postpartum journey. During your pregnancy several tissues, including your pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm, and abdominal muscles are stretched slowly and progressively over time. Following the birth of your little one, these tissues need rehab to recover just like a rotator cuff or ACL surgery. 

Anatomy of your Core

A good way to begin your diastasis recti rehab is understanding the muscular anatomy and function that make up your pressure system.

Your core is like a vacuum sealed sphere, it has a top, bottom, front, and back that function together under stress and pressure. This is what allows you to lift your ever growing baby from the floor to PR’ing your back squat.

Just under your rib cage lives your Diaphragm. This muscle is your breathing muscle. The bottom of the sphere, inside your pelvis, are the Pelvic Floor Muscles. These muscles act as sphincter control, sexual function, support to the pelvic organs, and stability to the pelvic bones. In front lie your Abdominals and in the back are your Paraspinals and Multifidus. These muscles are important for pressure management during strenuous activities, and add strength and control to the already very stable spinal and pelvic structures.

How to Test for Diastasis Recti

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place 2-3 fingers just above your belly button.
  3. Perform a crunch so your head and shoulder blades lift from the floor.
  4. Repeat again with fingers at your belly button and just below.

You might notice lack of tension beneath your fingers or a dome/cone shaped form at your midline. If you have noticed this doming with other daily movements, a core recovery program is a great place to start the healing process.

Training Diastasis Recti

The first step in training is learning how to create tension without doming. To do this, set up like above and draw tension in your abs toward your midline. Gently squeeze and lift around your vagina (be sure you are NOT sucking in and holding your breath), then perform that crunch like earlier. You want to notice more tension under your fingers and without doming. You just activated your transverse abdominis (deepest layer of your abdominals) and your pelvic floor muscles. 

Can I avoid a Diastasis?

The best way to minimize the degree of diastasis recti is knowing when modifications need to begin during pregnancy. There are tons of ways to stay active and keep the midline strong all of the way until birth!

Recap

Activating your transverse abdominis and pelvic floor muscles to help rehab your diastasis recti takes consistency and patience. This is not always a core strength deficit, but rather a mind to muscle connection. This takes time, practice, and confidence in returning to exercise. So be kind, patient, and loving to yourself as your work with your pelvic health physical therapist in your unique and amazing journey into motherhood!

At Onward Greenville, we pride ourselves in helping mothers get back to their active lifestyle, while managing the changes that happen during and after pregnancy. Dr. Jess is a pelvic floor specialist and has specialty training in treating the pregnant and postpartum fitness athlete. Contact Jess today or email jessica@onwardgreenville.com for a 15min consultation!