Diastasis Recti (DRA) is a common concern people come into my clinic asking about, both during their pregnancy and then again postpartum. You may have heard of it, it’s the stretch of the abdominal muscles which often occurs due to a growing belly in pregnancy. Specifically, it’s the stretch of the linea alba, or the center line of connective tissue connecting the sides of your rectus abdominus (6-pac abs) and your transverse abdominus (deep abdominals). Anyone who carries a baby to full term will in fact have a diastasis recti!
On many people this connective tissue tightens up around 6 weeks postpartum. As physio’s we check this for you in a postpartum visit and during pregnancy can also check this although we check more for what is called coning. Coning is the bulge up along the midline of your belly when we ask you to do tasks like picking up a grocery bag, getting out of bed, or doing a sit up. We can teach you ways to control that doming during pregnancy. We can teach you ways to breathe, engage your abdominals and pelvic floor differently and sometimes will recommend an external cue like tummytape.
tummytape is a cotton-spandex gentle adhesive tape that can be applied right to the skin. It helps give your body awareness of your abdominals and can facilitate learning to control any coning during pregnancy. Check out this page to learn more about tummytape and how it works.
Postpartum, we check for both the size of the abdominal separation and the depth, or bounce back, of the tissues when we push down along midline. We’re actually more interested in how deep our fingers go compared to how far apart the separation is. Once we identify what specifically you need to work on, we can set a plan to help you restore your connection and control through your abdominals and core. For most people, treatment of diastasis recti involves some specific muscle training, breathe work, pelvic floor retraining, exercise modifications and progressions and for a small amount of people surgery is an option.
If this is something you think you are experiencing or want to know more about, I recommend reaching out to a pelvic floor trained physiotherapist near you and we would be happy to answer any and all of your questions and create a treatment plan specifically for you!