Diastasis Recti- Abdominal Muscle Separation
Do you know what one of the most commonly untreated issues women face after delivering a baby? It hardly ever gets diagnosed and if it does the medical community doesn’t think there is any solution other than surgery.
I’m talking about Diastasis Recti. This is the separation of the rectus abdominus muscle, which is the “six-pack” muscle in our abdomen. The rectus abdominus muscle has two sets of muscle fibers that run up and down from the sternum, or chest plate, down to the pubic bone. They are connected by a connective tissue called the linea alba. These muscle bellies can become separated and the connective tissue between them stretched thin with pregnancy. The muscle bellies get forced out to the side to make room for the expanding uterus. Also, activities with a forward forceful movements as in coughing, sneezing, laughing, or doing sit ups incorrectly can create a diastasis or make an already existing one worse.
The abdominal muscles are one of the most important muscles in our body. They are responsible for all of the support and movements in our trunk and consist of three layers. The most superficial layer, the Rectus abdominus, otherwise known as the “Six-pack” muscle, helps us to bend forward or sit up from laying down. The middle layer includes the Internal and External Obliques which helps us to twist and the deepest and most important layer, the Transverse abdominus, helps to compress the abdomen in and is part of our core muscles to stabilze the spine and pelvis.
How do you know if you have Diastasis Recti?
The separation of the Recti muscles is called a Diastasis Recti. You will know if you have one if you are laying down on your back and you place your fingers pointing down toward your spine in your belly button. When you lift your head any fingers that fill the space between the two muscle fibers of the rectus abdminus let’s you know you have a separation. One to two fingers separation is considered normal. However you also need to check the depth of your connective tissue. That linea alba needs to be very superficial. If you sink down past your fingertip the connective tissue still needs to heal.
Also another key sign you have a
separation is when you lift your head do you have any doming in the midline of your abdomen?
There are certain things we do like getting in and out of bed, doing abdominal crunches, and playing golf and tennis that can make this separation worse and keep it from healing.
At Intuitive Hands PT we offer training and education to teach you a 4 step program to help you heal a Diastasis Recti and also to help you lose the “pooch” from pregnancy. By learning how to use your body and strengthen your transverse abdominus muscle correctly you can loose your “pooch” and bring the rectus abdominus muscle bellies back together again.
Anyone with a diastasis can be helped no matter how long your muscles have been separated. If you are currently pregnant, reading this previous post on how to avoid developing onein the first place can help save you ton of effort in the post partum period.