Diastasis Recti Abdominis Explained
Do you notice a bulge in the center of your stomach when you sit up? Have you had multiple hernias? Do you feel that it is hard to train or activate your core muscles? Have you had previous abdominal surgeries? Have you noticed any bulging in your abdomen before or after pregnancy?
Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DR) occurs when the linea alba, also known as the connective tissue between the two halves of the rectus abdominis muscle, separates, partially separates or becomes thinned. This can result in noticing a bulge along the center of the abdomen with physical activities. Examples include coughing, sneezing, performing a sit up, rolling in bed, lifting heavy items, and getting in and out of your car.
Our core muscles play a very important role in our everyday function as they protect the spine during movement, help us maintain an upright posture and keep our abdominal contents in place. In order for our body to work harmoniously, our core needs to be strong and supportive. When there is weakness present, we begin to make compensations which can put us at a greater risk for injury. When a DR is present, you may be lacking core stability as there can be weakness throughout your abdominal muscles. This can be a contributing factor to low back pain, hip pain, balance problems, pelvic floor dysfunction and many other symptoms.
Men and women can both experience a DR at all different stages of life. It's very common among pregnant women due to the increased stress placed on the muscles. Men can have it as well, possibly from yo-yo dieting, doing sit-ups or weightlifting the wrong way, having increased weight gain especially in the abdomen and general postural dysfunction. Having more than one child makes this condition more likely, especially if they’re close in age. You’re also more likely to get it if you’re over 35 when pregnant, or if you’re having a heavy baby or twins, triplets, or more.
The common misconception is that those with a DR should avoid sit ups, oblique strengthening, leg raises, planks, and intense abdominal exercises. However recent research has shown that in order to improve core stability in individuals with DR, the entire abdominal wall needs to be firing and working in conjunction with the obliques, pelvic floor and hip muscles. The most important factor with exercises, is not which exercises to avoid, but are you performing exercises correctly with good abdominal tension and core activation. Supervision and guidance is a key at the early stages of beginning strengthening.
It is important to see a pelvic physical therapist if you believe you may have a diastasis recti abdominis dysfunction or if you have previously been diagnosed with one and have not recovered properly. If you feel that you have core weakness or notice a rise in the center of the abdomen, there are exercises you can begin to help strengthen and develop improved tension throughout your core muscles.
Each individual is different when it comes to their experience with diastasis recti. When seeking treatment from a pelvic physical therapist at IDPT, an individualized treatment plan and ways in which to progress treatment is created. IDPT works one-on-one with patients to address each and every need, in which we understand varies tremendously from one patient to another.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact one of our specialized pelvic physical therapists at IDPT by calling us at 732.508.9926 or visiting our website at innerdynamicspt.com
You can also give our office a visit at 1300 State Route 35, Plaza 2, Unit 102, Ocean, NJ 07712 or our brand new second location at 167 Route 37 West, Unit 2, Toms River, NJ 08755.