Diastasis Recti. What is it and can I help it?

I have recently had several Mummas in with a Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) they knew nothing about. It still amazes me that this isn’t checked at the 6-8 week postnatal check, but this needs to be checked and helped if it doesn’t go away on its own. So here are some worth knowing facts!

Firstly, a Diastasis is NOT a tear in the muscle but a distancing of the muscle from something called the Linea Alba, which attaches the rib cage to the pelvis and also connects to all the abdominal muscles.

Risk factors to a diastasis

  • having a belly button piercing
  • past abdominal surgeries
  • history of umbilical or inguinal hernias
  • a previous Diastasis
  • having an anterior pelvic tilt, when the pelvis is pushed forward and no longer in neutral. Neutral pelvis is important for the internal pelvic organs

 How does a diastasis recti occur?

The condition occurs when the anterior wall of the abdomen expands quickly in conditions such as:

  • Pregnancy
  • Abdominal weight gain
  • C sections
  • Abdominal surgery

How to help yourself when you have a diastasis recti

The best way to help a Diastasis is to first encourage correct breathing techniques. Ensure that the ribs are being used to correctly breathe and that the breath on exhalation is kept slow and steady rather than rushed through! During any exertion make sure this is always done on the out breath with good abdominal pressure so extra support is given. Learning to build good abdominal pressure is vital here.

Correct posture is also critical. Correct alignment ensures everything internally is where it’s meant to be, so no undue pressure or pulling structures out into a misalignment.

What to avoid when you have a diastasis recti

Avoid any exercise that puts repeat forward pressure onto your abdomen as this could be making it worse. Definitely avoid crunches, planks and exercises on all fours. Avoid slouching and keeping a pregnant posture and get assessed by a trained therapist.

If you are pregnant, in labour avoid holding your breath when pushing. Push only when you get a natural urge and these pushes are shorter. Directed pushing and breath holding can cause a Diastasis. The force on the midline is immense and can also cause damage to the Pelvic floor.

A wide untreated Diastasis can cause problems such as back pain, pelvic pain, incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

If you are unsure and want assessing please contact me for a 1-1 session where I can check breathing patterns, any separation, and discuss posture, possible pelvic floor control and a way forward.

I also run classes for pregnant and postnatal women looking at helping all the above areas. My training is ‘once postnatal always postnatal’ so it doesn’t matter how old your children are if you have a problem it needs sorting and you need helping!

You can read more about Tanya’s pregnancy classes in Olney and online here, or Tanya’s postnatal classes in Olney and online here.