Diastasis recti is defined as a separation of the rectus abdominis (six pack) muscle bellies by the width of ≥2 finger breadths (~4cm). Stretching of the linea alba (a “white line” of connective tissue from sternum to pubic bone) causes this gap. It is usually measured above, at, and below umbilicus. It is NOT a hernia or a tear!
- 100% of people at 35 weeks pregnant
- 50-60% of people at 6 weeks postpartum
- About ⅓ of people at 1 year postpartum
… Diastasis recti is normal and for many, resolves on its own
- Lay on your back and do a crunch up to the tips of your shoulder blades. At the top of the crunch, try to insert your finger(s) between the two sides of the rectus abdominis. Do you feel a change in the width of this space as you crunch? Some can see a bulge/cone/valley between the muscles as they crunch.
- Different positions or activities may show a diastasis recti that doesn’t show up in a crunch. If you’re not sure, watch yourself doing a pull up, overhead press, squat, or other relevant movement.
- Width is not the only thing that matters when it comes to diastasis recti! Tension across the linea alba is just as important. We want the gap to resist the pressure of your fingers. Even if the gap is still there, good tension can be created when you exercise.
Why does diastasis recti NOT go away in some people after pregnancy?
- Research hasn’t been able to determine why diastasis resolves in some postpartum people and not others
- There is no evidence that exercising a certain way causes diastasis recti
- Binding your belly postpartum will NOT change diastasis recti
- NO specific exercise is “safe” or “unsafe” for this condition
- There is also NO specific exercise that is the best for reducing or closing the separation
- Mild diastasis recti does NOT causes back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, or digestive problems
- Focus on function! People with diastasis have even returned to elite athletics. Having diastasis recti does not reflect your strength or capacity. Even if diastasis does not fully close, we can build strength to compensate.
Are you unsure of how to navigate the noise when it comes to diastasis recti? Information on the internet can mean well, but be scary and confusing. Contact Agile’s pelvic PT team to get moving again!