s a Health Coach I am passionate about educating woman on diastasis recti because it is not commonly addressed in the medical community. Did you know that 2/3 of Woman have this condition. My obstetrician (OB) did not check for this condition post pregnancy and released me to begin exercising when my core was not able to do all exercises. This resulted in further injury to my abdominal wall.
What is Diastasis Rect?
Diastasis recti (also known as abdominal separation) is commonly defined as a gap of roughly 2.7 cm or greater between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle. That is a lot of big words. To put it simple your six pack muscles are separated about 2 or 3 fingers. It can cause your belly to sticks out because the space between your right and left abdominal muscles—which normally holds your belly in its place—has widened.
Variations of Diastasis Recti or Abdominal Separation
Who can have Diastasis Recti?
Anyone can have diastasis recti condition. Some causes may be due to:
Improper weigh lifting
Cirrhosis of the liver
However, it is MORE COMMONLY found in women post pregnancy. About ⅔ of woman have this condition. Yet many don’t know about it.
When a woman is pregnant the muscles separate allowing room for the developing life. After birth usually the muscles come back together. In Some woman this is not the case. There is an increased risk for woman who have multiple pregnancy and or a c sections.
What are the symptoms?
Belly bulge (belly hanging forward or sticking out when standing and a dome-like bulge when sitting up)
Lower back pain
Other intestinal discomfort that started or worsened after delivery
Pelvic floor issues
Pain during sex
These symptoms are not always associated to diastasis recti. I can tell you I only had one symptom above. That was mild lower back pain. My symptoms were different. For me it started with me motivated to lose my mommy pouch. I put on my old DVD I had done before pregnancy. As I began working out doing sit ups, I felt internal tearing and pulling. I powered through thinking it was just my body getting use to working out again. A few weeks in Internal itching began. This was internal and I would wake up with scratches all over my belly from scratching in the middle of the night. The last thing that happened was I felt my abdominal wall collapse while doing a higher more intense sit up. This is when I knew something was wrong. After seeing three Doctors I was left frustrated and feeling hopeless. This is how doctors responded to my symptoms, " Don’t exercise." Another told me it was in my mind. The third told me to change soaps.
Even though diastasis recti is a common condition, your doctor may not check you for it unless you ask—many doctors aren’t trained to treat or even recognize the condition due to our health insurance restrictions. When I reached out to my OB about it she informed me she had never heard of it. And later told me she had to google the condition and google how to check for it. This OB at least ordered a exploratory surgery to see if there was anything else going on. They found 6 strands of scar tissue attached to my abdominal wall and bowel. They should have seen my hernia but did not catch it. That was discovery was 3 years later.
So How do you check for Diastasis recti?
Since I am not a licensed Doctor or Physical therapist I am unable to diagnose this condition. I recommend this youtube video to start and then seek a confirmation diagnosis from a Doctor or Physical Therapist.
Youtube video https://youtu.be/2XAzDXZokEs
I had almost 4 fingers. After learning that I had this condition and being told insurance would not cover anything to help me repair the condition. I started my own research. I bought many videos and a stomach wraps trying to heal my diastasis recti. From the help of those videos I was able to close the gap to two fingers in 8 months. I believe due to me having the hernia it was preventing a full recovery.
How do you Exercise?
Lets start with the don’t s
Unsafe Exercises if you Have Diastasis Recti
Do not do sit ups, planks, incline sit-ups, intense abdominal exercise machines, oblique sit-ups/machine, exercise ball sit-ups/ball leg raises, bicycle legs, double leg raise, hanging knee raise, or any intense core moves.
These will push out the belly more and can cause more damage, and or pain.
Exercises to Do.
Pelvic Floor Strength
Diastasis Recti Safe Core Strength
It takes time to research and find a routine and exercises that will work for you and your body. Be patient and know you are on the right path.
This was a 5 year process for me and unfortunately my journey ended with me having to have surgery to repair my hernia and the diastasis recti. Surgery was my last resort and with the medical community not having proper knowledge and not recognizing the lack of function diastasis recti can cause on some made my journey not only emotionally but physically painful. I can say that at times my faith in God was the only hope I had. I am 8 months post op and have full function to do any exercise I want. I will always maintain my core strength exercises.
If you are interested in more information please call me for a free coaching session so we can come up with a specific exercise to help your recovery be successful.