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Diastasis Recti

Diastasis recti is the stretching or separation of the rectus abdominis (6 pack) muscles caused by the thinning of the linea alba (midline connective tissue).  

 

This can be seen with improper training of the abdominals and frequently occurs with pregnancy. As the abdomen expands during pregnancy everyone’s linea alba is somewhat stretched in the third trimester. Most bellies recover after, but some do not.  Women often describe this as their post baby “Mommy Pooch".

 

Diastasis recti separation leaves your abdominal organs unsupported, and if severe, can expose your digestive organs creating a stomach bulge.

Diastasis recti. Woman's abdomen divergence of the muscles of the abdomen after pregnancy

Commonly Treated Conditions

  • Low back pain

  • Pelvic pain

  • Constipation

  • Prolapse

  • Urinary incontinence

  • Poor posture

  • Inability to perform your everyday daily activities due to lack of core strength.

This separation can range from being isolated above the belly button, within the belly button, and below the belly button sitting above the pubic bone. In some cases, the separation encompasses the entire mid section of the core.

How to Assess for a Diastasis Recti

  1. Lie on your back in a comfortable position. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor.

  2. Place one hand on the midline of your core with your fingers flat on your midline

  3. Place your other hand under your head and neck for support. Lift your head slowly and begin adding pressure through the pads of your fingers. 

  4. With no diastasis recti, there is the sensation of a toned wall as you lift your head. If you feel a space, or your fingers sink into your core, you likely have diastasis recti. 

  5. Repeat the procedure for the areas directly above your belly button down to the pubis to determine whether the diastasis recti is isolated, or in your core as a whole.

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with Diastasis Recti that are not resolving, physiotherapy can help.

 

There can sometimes be good mechanical reason that your mommy pooch isn’t resolving.  Rotations in the pelvis, trigger points in the abdominal wall musculature, rib mal-positioning, and poor posture leading to increased intra abdominal pressure.

 

Organs also move to accommodate your little one and sometimes they need a little outside help to get back to their normal position. 

 

This is termed visceral manipulation (VM), a myofascial release technique performed around the organs. This can have a drastic effect on the abdominal wall and sometimes can be the missing component in rehabilitation.

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What to Expect at Your Visit

Your assessment starts with your story. A review of your description of your symptoms and concerns, birthing history, medical and surgical history, your lifestyle, functional abilities (and limitations), social or emotional issues and your personal goals you would like to achieve with therapy.

The Physical Examination

The physical exam includes a whole-body assessment.

 

Components of the assessment may include:

  • Postural assessment

  • Breathing evaluation

  • Abdominal wall assessment

  • Scar tissue assessment

  • Range of motion of the thorax, low back and pelvis

  • Core strength assessment

  • An intravaginal and/or rectal examination of the perineum if required 


The methods used are always based on your comfort and consent. I will discuss all options with you during your assessment.

You should expect to come away from the assessment with knowledge of your condition and a treatment plan.

You will be shown techniques to use at home for symptom reduction as well as suggestions for improving your posture and motor recruitment strategies.  

 

Treatment will address all the deficits found in the initial assessment with the aim being to provide you with the knowledge and tools to improve your musculoskeletal and urological function.

 

A Diastasis Recti exercise program will be provided based on your individual needs.