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Diastasis Recti- What is it?

By Dr. Brooke Meinema PT, DPT, FAFS

Many people in the pregnant and postpartum community have heard the term diastasis recti. While a diastasis can occur to people who have not been pregnant, it is more common to see this towards the end of a pregnancy and after delivery. A diastasis rectus refers to when the tissue between the abdominal muscles begin to separate. It does NOT necessarily mean the muscles or tissue have torn (this can happen, but it is not common), it just means that to allow for the baby to grow, the muscles need to have a little more space and so they move further away from the center. This is a normal part of pregnancy and should happen, but it will typically recover on its own within a month or two following delivery. There can be different variations of diastasis recti (as pictured) depending on where the separation occurs.

 

 

How can I tell if I have a diastasis?

Let me start by saying, if you are concerned you have a diastasis rectus that needs to be addressed, check with a medical provider for guidance (whether that be your OB/GYN, PCP, or physical therapist). There are a few things you can look for when assessing for a diastasis. First of all, if you notice “doming” (when the belly seems to bulge out in the middle) when you are lying on your back and go to lift your head off the ground, this is a sign for a diastasis (see image). Other signs can be the stereotypical “mommy tummy” or “pouching” in the lower belly.  Not all women with a diastasis will present with this, though.

 

 

How is a diastasis measured?

There are two things we look for when measuring a diastasis: the width and the depth of the separation. The width of the diastasis is measured by how many fingers fit between the separation of the muscles. The depth of the gap may be an even more important part, and this is how many knuckles deep the separation goes. We want to know if it seems soft and boggy, or if there is good tension even with a separation. Having this initial measurement of the width and depth of the separation can help us see the progress you make over time.

 

Can I exercise with a diastasis?

Returning to exercise with a diastasis can sometimes increase risk of injury, such as a hernia or a further separation, so making sure to address this can be important. With this being said, it does not mean you can never return to regular hobbies and exercises, it just means you will want to be mindful of HOW and WHEN you get back into things. There are exercises you can do to reduce the separation, activity modifications, and training to help return to your hobbies safely. Need help? Ask! There are many things that can be done to address this and help you get back to doing what you love! For a free 10-minute consultation, visit us at https://imovedaily.com/womens-health/ and fill out the form to contact a Women’s Health Physical Therapist and schedule your consultation.

 

 

References

https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/diastasis-recti-and-pregnancy/

https://sportandspinalphysio.com.au/can-i-heal-my-diastasis-recti/

https://thepilatesworkshop.com.au/tag/diastasis-recti/

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