Diastasis Recti: What It’s Not

1. It Has Nothing to Do with Your Abdominal Muscles

Diastasis Recti (DR) is a separation of the abdominal muscles. Most often, it occurs in pregnant and postpartum women, but it can also occur in children and other adults. For my purpose today, I will be discussing DR as it pertains to pregnant and postpartum women. Your actual abdominal muscles have nothing to do with a diastasis. Your ab muscles are connected down the middle by tissue called the linea alba. This tissue softens and stretches during pregnancy to allow room for the baby to grow in your belly. So, your ab muscles aren’t separating, it’s the tissue between them that separates and becomes weakened.

2. It Is Not Unusual

As I stated in the first point, your body has to grow and expand to allow for the baby to grow and this causes a natural diastasis in almost all women who carry their babies to full term. It’s pretty much unavoidable, there’s nothing you can do to “prevent” a diastasis despite what many mommy websites advise you. For many women, this gap closes naturally in a few weeks postpartum, but for others, that tissue remains weakened and that’s when a diastasis can become problematic.

3. It Is Not Completely Debilitating

The most common symptoms/complaints that go along with a diastasis are a “mom pooch” type belly, low back pain, and incontinence. While you may end up always having a bit of a pooch, working on healing your diastasis can go a long way towards helping that. Low back pain is actually a complaint for many who have a weak core, which is essentially what a DR is. Your core is weak and not functioning properly, so the muscles in your low back are working overtime to compensate for it. Incontinence mostly has to do with a weakened pelvic floor which is, again, connected to your core. The more you work on your core strength, including the strength of those pelvic floor muscles, the less incontinence will be an issue.

4. It Is Nothing to Be Afraid Of

Even if your DR doesn’t close on its own postpartum, there are plenty of things that you can do to help yourself heal. Reconnecting your mind to your core and pelvic floor is key in the early days and weeks postpartum. The more you can engage those muscles, the more you will be able to strengthen that tissue. If you’ve heard that anything more than a 2-finger gap is problematic, you heard wrong. While it used to be believed that “closing the gap” was the most important thing, we now know that being able to generate tension in that linea alba tissue is more important. Being able to generate tension there is what will allow your core to function optimally without having other muscles of your body compensating for a weak core. There are lots of exercises that you can do, even early postpartum, to help yourself begin the healing process.

Be on the lookout this week for some great diastasis-friendly workouts!

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