Diastasis recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles - well actually it's a stretch of fascia called the linea alba which is the centerline of the six-pack muscles.
Almost 100% of birthing people have some level of stretching during pregnancy. Occurrence varies greatly depending on many factors, some which include genetics, maternal age, and number of pregnancies. The good news is the fascia is adaptable! Many times it heals automatically, resolving on its own.
The linea alba is a type of connective tissue that contracts to create tension. This tension is very important for force load transfer and allows for shock absorption in the body. Without transference of force throughout the body, the force stops suddenly and eventually cause injury. It can greatly limit your ability to generate power.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about diastasis recti abdominis or diastasis recti (DRA, DR). Wellest is here to share how to perform a screening to know if you have one and our top 4 tips for you to address Diastasis Recti
How do I know if I have DR?
Sometimes a midwife or OBGYN will perform a DRA screening at your 6-8 week follow up, but more often than not diastasis recti is not addressed. A postpartum evaluation with a pelvic floor therapist includes a screening for a DRA and assessment of core function.
What a screening entails:
The client lays on their back with their knees bent and feet flat on a surface.
The therapist looks at the abdominal wall and linea alba at rest, placing fingers from sternum to belly button and lightly moving side to side feeling for the integrity of the connective tissue
The therapist performs the test again with the client lifting their head off the table in a mini crunch feeling for the borders of the abdominal muscle, the tension in the connective tissue, and any depth changes.
4 Ways You Can Improve Your Diastasis Recti
Posture: Finding a good position of your rib cage over a good position of your pelvis allows you to equalize your abdominal pressure, ensuring automatic access to your core muscles. If your rib cage is tilted backwards (commonly found in pregnancy) or overly flared, the abdominal pressure will push your abdominal wall forward
Hot tip - 30-second postural check in’s: head over heart over hips over heels.
Great to do during bottle feeds or diaper changes!
Ribcage Mobility: With common postpartum posture, there may be tension in the muscles around the rib cage or an area of your back called the thoracolumbar fascia. We love placing a towel roll or ball at your mid/upper back (at the bra line) and trace a circle clockwise and counterclockwise
Thoracic lumbar Fascia Release: If connective tissue along the lower back (hey there back tightness/aches) your diastasis may have a hard time closing. We love to use a ball at the wall and rolling out the fascia all along the lower back
Body Mechanics: Using good body mechanics during everyday tasks can dramatically improve your core function. Exhale when you’re getting up from sitting or when picking up something/someone from the floor to automatically turn on the core system
Here at Wellest, we take a whole body approach to Diastasis Recti to help you feel connected and strong in your body after baby.
-Dana Solomon, OT