Diastasis recti abdominis (DRA) has become a buzzword in the world of pregnancy and birth. In fact, one study showed that up to 60% of women suffer from diastasis recti during the postpartum period. As a Chiropractor who focuses on prenatal and postnatal care I often get questions about DRA. For this article I’ve included some of the most common questions I get in the office.
What is diastasis recti abdominis?
Diastasis recti abdominis is the physical separation of the recti abdominal muscles located on the front of the abdomen and stretching from just below the front of the ribs to the pubic bone area. The rectus abdominis muscles consist of two bands of muscle that run vertically and are connected in the midline by linear connective tissue called the linea alba. These muscles are commonly known as the “six pack” muscles. When DRA occurs the connective tissue between these two bands of muscles pull apart leaving a gap.
Why does diastasis recti abdominis occur?
Diastasis recti abdominis occurs when there is increased abdominal pressure causing the soft tissue to seperate. This can happen during everyday events such as lifting, straining, and some abdominal exercises. It is also very common during pregnancy due to the increased weight of carrying a baby.
What can I expect with diastasis recti abdominis?
Though diastasis Recti is an injury of the abdominal wall it has many effects on other parts of the abdominal cavity. Many people with diastasis recti abdominis experience pelvic floor weakness and dysfunction including urinary incontinence (peeing when you sneeze, cough, jump, or laugh) pain with intercourse, or constipation. Many people also experience hip and lower back pain.
How can I check myself for diastasis recti abdominis?
I’ve included a self-check video by certified health coach and personal trainer Carrie Harper. Carrie is ACE (American Council On Exercise) certified and the creator of Diastasis Recti Recovery System, an online course. She is an advocate of postpartum fitness and is a BirthBabyBody educational partner.
How can I recover from diastasis recti abdominis?
When recovering from DRA there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. You can recover from small separations in your abdomen through at-home programs, many of which are pilates-based and focus on strengthening the stabilizer muscles of the core. At BirthBabyBody our favorite online program is the Diastasis Recti Recovery System* by Carrie.
What not to do if you suspect you have diastasis recti abdominis?
There are a few things you want to AVOID if you have or suspect you have diastasis recti abdominis:
Avoid crunches and other abdominal workouts (e.g. sit-ups, planks, leg lowers, flutter kicks) that target both sides of the rectus abdominis at the same time
Avoid exercises that increase abdominal pressure including general heavy weight lifting without proper form and breathing
Avoid going from lying to sitting without proper posture
Avoid improper posture while standing/sitting including excessive anterior hip tilt, increased low back curvature, and an anterior rib cage (i.e. standing with your butt sticking out).
Watch the video below to learn how to check yourself for diastasis recti:
What people are saying about Carrie's Diastasis Recti Course
"Very helpful in gradually increasing core strength even if the core is very weak or has significant injury. Saw improvement quickly with a small amount of daily time commitment which makes it great for moms who are recovering after a birth or who have small children." -Rebecca
"First instructor to ever address the day to day limitations i have with my DR core injury and to explain that the abdomen muscles can flex in as well as push out! GREAT setup for my participation in the rest of the course- because, after all, what good is doing 6 weeks of therapy work if I’m just “undoing” all that work with my daily bad posture" - Meredith
"I liked that I was able to watch each module at my own pace. I also found it beneficial to hear Carrie describe what was going on as well as be able to watch the video and see it." - Jennifer
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*Full Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links from Carrie Harper, who we love! If you use them, BirthBabyBody might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that we only recommend educational tools that we love and use ourselves, and we always have our readers' best interest at heart.
Disclaimer: BirthBabyBody exists to provide health and wellness resources. The information on this site is for educational and advocacy purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical or psychological condition. Please consult your own health care provider for individual advice regarding your specific situation and needs.