The term "diastasis recti" refers to the separation of the outermost layer of the abdominal muscles, the rectus abdominis, or recti (what we commonly refer to as the "six pack" muscle). The recti muscles are a pair of muscles that are joined together by connective tissue called the linea alba. During pregnancy, the pressure of the expanding uterus pushing against the abdominal wall causes this connective tissue to stretch, thereby causing the recti to spread apart. The more the connective tissue stretches and the recti muscles separate, the weaker the support system for the back and organs become. With the core in this weakened state, pregnant women and moms become more susceptible to many injuries and potentially serious medical conditions.
You can check yourself for a diastasis both during and after pregnancy. You will be checking the distance between the recti muscles, as well as the condition of the connective tissue that joins these muscles together. Lie on your back with your knees bent. With your middle three fingers pressed together, place these fingers on your belly button with your hand resting on your stomach. Your fingers should be pointing down towards your toes. Relax your abdominal muscles (do not contract or hold them in) and slowly start to lift your head slightly off the floor as you press your fingers into your stomach. Do you feel a gap between your muscles? You are checking to see how many fingers you can fit in between the two halves of the recti muscle when your head is lifted only slightly off the floor. Your separation may be less than 3 finger widths, so you may only fit 2 fingers between the muscles. If you don't feel the sides of the recti muscles against your fingers when pressing into your stomach, you may have to add in your pinky and fingers from your other hand. The recti muscles will come closer together the higher you lift your head, so for an accurate measurement make sure not to raise the head up too high. You may have to raise and lower your head a few times while pressing into your stomach in order to figure out exactly where each side of the recti muscle is. Also note how deep your fingers go towards your spine when you press into your stomach. The further in you can press your fingers, the weaker the connective tissue is. It's common to also have some separation about an inch above and an inch below the belly button, so be sure to check for a diastasis in these areas as well.
Yes! Whether you are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or many years postpartum, our Core Strength & Diastasis Recti Program can be used to both minimize the occurrence of abdominal separation prior to and during pregnancy, and improve an existing diastasis regardless of how long ago it was created. You need to learn the proper exercises to strengthen the transverse abdominis muscle (the innermost layer of the abdominal muscles that draws in the recti muscles) and how to engage this muscle properly in functional movements and exercises. Equally important, many every-day movements must be modified or avoided so you don't help create a diastasis or make an existing separation even worse. This can substantially help reduce or prevent a "mummy tummy," and more importantly, reduce or prevent lower back pain, sciatica, sacroiliac (SI) joint pain, and other potentially serious medical conditions.
- Fitnotic's Core Strength & Diastasis Recti Program is available through private instruction or as an online program. Please contact us for more information.
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: Web site content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer medical advice, or replace the recommendations of your doctor, midwife, or physical therapist. Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
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