Understanding Diastasis Recti
I recall when I was first pregnant; I bought The Pregnancy Bible and read it diligently every day to see what was happening to me and my babe….
About three-quarters of the way through the book there was a tiny paragraph about diastasis recti that described it as when the abdominal muscles separate due to the stretching of the connective tissue during pregnancy. Nothing was included about stats, how to check for it, how to prevent it or what to do about it!
It sounded painful! And I thought for sure I would know if I had it. Not so, it took four years to diagnose it in myself. I kept learning (and am still learning) all about it.
Diastasis (DRA) is so far poorly researched, but thankfully the research world is realizing the impact and increased occurrence of this condition, so more studies are in the works.
What studies tell us
Diastasis recti is the separation of the outermost abdominals from the midline where they are connected via the linea alba causing a gap.
It's Not Just About Closing the Gap
Everyone is concerned with closing the gap, but it is more important to get the linea alba (the connective tissue that holds the two recti in place) tensioning properly; how you do that is through the pelvic floor (and alignment and breathing).
The linea alba is a complex highly structured meshwork of collagen fibers I refer to as “connective tissue.” The linea alba softens during pregnancy to allow the two rectus abdominus bellies to curve around the abdominal wall.
Some of the complaints that are associated with diastasis are:
• back pain
• Incontinence, prolapse and a
• bulging abdominal wall
It is typically never just one thing but rather a combination of influences that contribute to DRA. The more common compensatory strategies that develop in postpartum women are overusing the obliques (internal or external), reverse breathing or chest breathing, overusing the posterior pelvic floor muscles, and tucking the tailbone.
There is still much to be learned about diastasis recti, but what we do know is that it is very common, that we need to focus on improving the integrity of the linea alba, and that the first eight weeks postpartum are the most critical.
Restorative core exercises help restore the core in the first 8 weeks postpartum to help the muscles re-align, to protect and reinforce the integrity of the connective tissue. and restore core confidence for motherhood.
Awareness is Key
Awareness is key and can help minimize DRA. The first eight weeks postpartum are critical for healing, so take advantage of that. Common ‘core’ exercises can actually do more harm than good so find physiotherapy and fitness professionals who can help you with the ABC’s – Alignment, Breathing and Coordination (or Core-ordination as I like to call it!).
The Buff Muff App will teach you how to activate your pelvic floor appropriately and then add it to movement. You will see a reduction or elimination of leaks, a reduction or elimination of back pain, and those feelings of things ‘just not being right down there’ will ease.