18 Apr Diastasis Recti
It's common for the Rectus Abdominis (6 pack) muscles that run down the middle of your stomach to separate during pregnancy, this is called Diastasis Recti (DR). These muscles are designed to separate in the middle to give room for the growing foetus during pregnancy. This can occur anytime after the 12th week of pregnancy although usually it is more common in the later half of the pregnancy.
However, Diastasis recti isn't just an issue during pregnancy or just for ladies; men can have the condition too. You could be genetically predisposed to DR or develop the condition as a result of:
- heavy weight lifting with poor technique;
- overdoing crunch like exercises again with poor technique; or
- sudden weight gain which can cause extreme pressure on the abdominals from the inside.
First signs of a DR might be a slight bulge developing down the front of your abdomen (bump for pregnant ladies). You can check whether your RA have separated by placing your hands on the abdomen, if you can feel a small bulge like a marshmallow in the middle and above or below the navel then it will probably mean your RA has separated.
You can check the size of the separation with this simple technique. Ladies should wait until at least 6 weeks after birth to carry out this check:
- Lie semi supine (on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor);
- Using two fingers feel/palpate both above and below the belly button to obtain the most accurate reading;
- Lift your head and shoulders carefully off the floor (keep one hand behind your head or a series of pillows if needed;
- Feel/palpate the gap above/below the belly button and approximate how large the gap is. Use your fingers width ways in the gap to measure.
The gap should be ideally no more than two fingers width on flexion. If a gap is apparent commence with a gentle exercise regime to strengthen the Transverse Abdominals and Pelvic Floor - click here for details. If the gap is 4 fingers or more contact your health professional for advice and support.
Remember, all our bodies are different so heal at a different rate.