During pregnancy, specifically during the third trimester, abdominal muscles have to stretch to accommodate for the growing baby.
While the muscles can stretch, the Linea Alba (Latin for while line), which is a connective tissue that runs down the middle of the abdomen, cannot. When the Linea Alba is stretched to the point of separation leaving us with the gap in the middle of the abdomen, we call it diastasis recti. Sometimes after giving birth, things go back to normal several weeks later; and the gap closes. However, this is not always the case.
First, it’s the esthetics. It makes a woman look like she is still pregnant, and the tummy would not go away no matter how hard she tries to exercise and strengthen her muscles.
Second, it is function. The abdominal muscles are part of the core. Imagine our core being a closed canister with the diaphragm on the top, pelvic floor muscles on the bottom, abdominals in the front, and back muscles in the back. If there is a separation in the abdominal muscles, it makes your canister weak and unable to carry the load, like picking up the baby, for example. This core dysfunction is especially devastating to women who are very athletic and trying to get back into shape. It seems like no matter how hard they try-they hit a brick wall in the training routine.
Common problems associated with diastasis recti:
- Pelvic Pain
- Core Instability
- Low Back Pain
- Urinary Incontinence
- Organ Prolapse
- Poor Posture
The diagnosis of “Diastasis Recti” is confirmed by physical examination during the initial assessment by a physical therapist. The therapist will examine the depth, the width and the length of the diastasis; check the core strength, posture, breathing and movement patterns among many other things.
Diastasis Recti responds well to physical therapy, and women are able to go back to doing their favorite workouts or just go back to their normal lifestyle without any symptoms. Here, at Action Physical Therapy we have treated hundreds of women with this condition with great results. Our therapists have advanced training in women’s health issues as well as pelvic floor problems which greatly improves our success rate.
When we treat our patients, we don’t just treat Diastasis Recti. Remember, your abdominals are a part of a canister; and it is important to address any dysfunction associated with the problem whether it is back pain, urinary incontinence, organ prolapse, poor posture or instability. When treated properly, diastasis recti will be a thing of the past.