Updated: Aug 18, 2022
Diastasis recti occurs when the connective tissue between the outer abdominal muscle is stretched too far. If you look at a fit person with a six-pack you will notice an indentation line through the center running up and down, this is called your linea alba. This is the area where separation occurs most often with pregnancy. It can occur in men and the fit population, from too much pressure through the core.
What causes diastasis recti?
The linea alba becomes vulnerable from pressure through the core by loading incorrectly. If you push your stomach outwards with core exercise this can lead to thinning over time, and cause #incontinence issues, especially with lifting heavyweight. A pregnant belly is stretched making this area vulnerable. Some factors besides pregnancy that can affect this is age. It can also occur when weight is gained and lost in a short amount of time or from exercising improperly. There is no evidence to suggest that lower back pain is accompanied, always, with diastasis. However, it can be another symptom with someone with diastasis.
Variation of Diastasis Recti
Normal linea alba should be about the width and depth of the knuckles between your fingers and feel stiff. Diastasis Recti can be as little as 1 finger wide but very squishy and deep in depth. It can be shallow like the space between your knuckles and 2-3 inches wide but I've seen width be up to 6 or more fingers wide. It can run from the top of your rib cage to below your belly button and any variation in between. Some people only have it at their belly button. The belly button is usually the most vulnerable place and typically last to heal.
When should I seek treatment?
If you are unhappy with the look of your belly, if you are experiencing a lack of progression in your core strength, or fitness strength, back pain, or incontinence, these are all good reasons to seek help. Your core is the center of your body connected to everything else through your kinetic chain. If one part of your body is weak, it affects other areas of your body as well. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Fixing this link can change not just your physical well-being but your emotional state of mind. Find a postpartum recovery specialist (like myself) that can give you personalized exercise routine to not make it worse and help you recover.
How can corrective exercise help with diastasis recti?
The linea alba becomes vulnerable from pressure through the core. Some factors besides pregnancy that can affect this is age. It can also occur when weight is gained and lost in a short amount of time or from exercising improperly. There is no evidence to suggest that lower back pain is accompanied, always, with diastasis. However, it can be another symptom with someone with diastasis. The width is too great other options such as surgery may be suggested. Surgery should always be a last resort as it is more trauma for the body and time to heal. Exercise creates not just body awareness and connection to oneself. But the ability to avoid issues in the future that may be causing it.
Breath awareness to help you understand pressure management and alleviating more pressure on the already vulnerable area.
Mindfulness practices throughout your daily activity. Some activities may be suggested to avoid during your recovery.
Patient education to understand what muscles are overworking and what muscles are weak.
Custom targeted exercises and at home “exercise homework” to take away between sessions.
Corrective exercise specialists can provide the necessary tools to treat diastasis recti, allowing you to return to your daily activities stronger than ever.
To learn more about diastasis recti, book a session with your diastasis recti Portland/Vancouver/Camas specialist Jessa Freeman. She is also available to take private appointments online anywhere in the country. Email her at Jessa@modphysique.com to schedule a free 20 min. consultation.