Do you have a common body change that may be preventing you from getting that “pre-baby body” back after pregnancy?
A diastasis recti (DRA) is the term for an increased distance between the 2 muscle bellies of the rectus abdominis, or your “6-pack” muscles. This can occur from many things but is most commonly seen postpartum. During pregnancy as the baby grows and the belly expands, many things stretch including a tissue called the linea alba. This is connective tissue in your abdominal wall between the “6 pack” muscles. This can become a problem when, after the baby is delivered, the linea alba does not return to its original length and there is a disruption of the abdominal wall and trunk support.
It is estimated that 27% of women have a DRA in the second trimester and 66% in the third trimester of pregnancy. 53% of those women continued to have a DRA immediately postpartum and 36% remained abnormally wide at 5-7 weeks postpartum.
Although this is typically called diastasis recti, there is discussion on calling the stretching of the linea alba “inter-recti distance” as the former implies an actual separation which can be misleading.
The risk of having this occur is the lack of support at your abdominal wall. Your body relies on this, intra abdominal pressure, muscular strength, and fascial layers for support during all activities. If this is interrupted, you are at risk for injury which may include a hernia or a back injury.
DID YOU KNOW ?
This can occur in men and women? Although most commonly seen in postpartum women, this can also be seen in the general population including athletes who commonly participate in heavy weightlifting.
This is generally measured in centimeters and depending on the severity of the ‘separation’, there are several treatment options. More often than not, a diastasis can be corrected with proper intraabdominal pressure management techniques and strengthening exercises. These techniques are very specific and can easily be performed incorrectly. I always recommend consulting with an exercise specialist who is specifically trained to treat this, such as a pelvic physical therapist.
Check out my instagram @bri_mccormick.pt.dpt for other information and future videos on how to assess and check for it
Look for a future post featuring facts about DRA and PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION
If you have questions about how physical therapy, contact us or call (407) 753-2192.
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by: Bri McCormick PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Pelvic Floor PT
Boissonnault J S, Blaschak M J 1988 Incidence of diastasis recti abdominis during the childbearing year. Physical THerapy (68):7.
Lee D G, Lee LJ, McLaughlin L 2008 Stability, continence and breathing – The role of fascia in both function an dysfunction and the potential consequences following pregnancy and deliver. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 12, 333-348
Chiarello CM: the effects of an exercise program on diastasis reci abdominis in pregnant women; Journal of women’s health physical therapy 2005; 29(1)12-15
Lee D. The Pelvic Girdle. 4th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingston; 2004.
Richardson C, Jull G, Hodges P, Hides J. Therapeutic Exercise for Spinal Segemental Stabilization in Low Back Pain. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingston; 2004.