What is Diastasis Recti?

Maybe you have heard people talking about this on the internet or have just been told by your doctor that this is what is going on with your tummy muscles. You may be left feeling worried about what this means for you and what you can do about it. In the first of this blog series this month I thought I would go into a little more detail on Diastasis Recti (or maybe simply put to you as muscle separation.)

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis Recti describes the separation of the Rectus Abdominis muscles (those 6 pack muscles) down the midline of the tummy that is made up of 2 halves. During pregnancy to make room for your growing baby your connective tissue (Linea Alba) between the 2 halves of the abdominal muscles will stretch. This is a normal occurrence and some studies suggest that at 35 weeks 100% of pregnant women will have some degree of separation and for the vast majority will heal within 8 weeks postnatal. Whilst this is common in pregnancy not only pregnant women or mums can have a DR.

Diastasis Recti and Postnatal exercise

Muscle separation doesn’t present the same way in every person as you can see from the image above. It seems most common to have the weakest area around the belly button but it is not always in this area. The best visual I have heard is from one of my mentors Jessie Mundell. If you can imagine that your connective tissue is like a pair of yoga pants that have stretched over time and you can see through when you bend over. The tissue has become stretched over time and becomes lax which causes the separation of the abdominal muscles.

How do you know you have DR?

To check on yourself if you have separation then check out how on this video. If you suspect you do you should go to a women’s health physiotherapist.

If you are exercising and you notice any doming or bulging around the abdominal area it may be indicating a separation. Stop doing the exercise and consult with a physio.

This can all seem overwhelming information but if you find yourself with this diagnosis I would love for you to know a few things.

  1. This is a common issue but it is not normal so you don’t have to put up with it.

  2. Surgery isn’t the answer most of the time so don’t resign yourself to that being your only option.

  3. GPs are not commonly trained in DR so it is best to seek out a physio who has experience.

  4. Please don’t be afraid of doing exercise.

  5. Exercise can help strengthen your core

  6. Nutrition, hydration and sleep are important pillars of healing your core.

How do you know if your Diastasis is healed?

There is a lot of misconceptions out there about Diastasis Recti. There is still a lot of research being done on how best to heal it, why some people get it and others don’t. So how do you know you have a healed DR? It was once thought that closing the gap was the most important part of healing a DR however, research shows that improving the tension of your connective tissue is much more important a closed gap. The muscles may never come fully back together but if you have good tension in the connective tissue and can do exercise and live your life without symptoms this is a good sign and is the goal for many people.

Be sure to sign up to my email list to for the next blog about nutrition tips for healing Diastasis Recti.