Diastasis Recti - This is a term describing the separation of the abdominal muscles. The abdominal muscles consist of the rectus abdominus, the deeper transversus abdominus, and then the internal and external oblique muscles.
Separation of the linea alba during pregnancy is inevitable. The muscles need to separate to ensure the bady has room to grow. As the pregnancy comes to a conclusion, the muscles will remain separated for a few weeks and with natural progression they will come back together and a solid and continuous membrane will reform connecting the rectus muscles.
It can also occur in men! Chronic changes in breathing patterns, weight gain and age can cause a seperation.
The rectus muscles are important for normal function: Sitting up from laying down; rolling over; lifting the pelvis up; transferring weight; reaching; doing a push up; laughing; crying; forced breathing..........the list goes on and on.
For some women, the muscles never fully reconnect and they are left with a continuous separation. More than anything it can be an area which causes a great degree of distress and on occasions discomfort.
Addressing the separation is always on the mind of women post-partum. It is essential that they get their abdominal and pelvic floor muscles back to full function to ensure they have the necessary muscle strength and for the prevention of urge and stress incontinence. It is also important so that they can have a healthy sex life and feel confident in their bodies. Weak muscles have far reaching ramifications with the loss of sports participation and the comorbid factors that can develop from abstaining from physical activities due to the lack of confidence in the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
Seeing a pelvic floor therapist is essential and can guide you through the necessary exercises.
Doing the normal exercises or sit up routines can result in a worsening of the gap. Over exertion can result in the muscles contracting and pulling the opening wider or certainly not closing the gap.
It is first necessary to understand how large your gap is and for this it is best to see a physiotherapist with expertise in
this type of problem. Next you will need to have exercises prescribed that meet your level of separation. It is pointless to give you exercises that are too easy or difficult. Furthermore, you will need to learn the necessary techniques to ensure the muscle contractions are 'closing' the gap and not 'opening' it.
What to expect:
We will take a comprehensive history and examination of your problem to determine whether there were any problems during pregnancy.
We will establish what you have done up until now and whether you have tried to rectify the problem yourself. This will include understanding the type of exercises you have already undertaken.
Next, we will ask about your expected activity levels so that we can ensure you have a plan of action going forwards that will guarantee a smooth return to pre-pregnancy activity.
Examination will consist of postural analysis, testing the strength of the core muscles and measuring your gapping.
We will ask you to perform a sit up to see the effect on the abdominal separation.
Treatment will begin immediately as we will often start the assessment of the separation by asking you to contract the pelvic floor muscles and the deeper transversus muscles. This often has a positive effect on the abdominals and it is important to see if you can contract these.
The treatment plan will be established in the first session and we will provide you with simple exercises to ensure you can remember the format of the technique and the correct delivery of it. Poor adherence to exercise is often because the physio or exercise professional has not helped you to understand the activity. Our goal is to make you an expert in your own condition so that you can master the exercises and feel confident in what you are doing.
Rectus problems do not require the removal of any items of clothing other than exposure of the abdomen. The physical contact of the therapist on the abdomen will be to determine the extent of the separation. Please see Abarna or Rachel if you prefer to see our Female practitioners.
Book in to see one of our pelvic health therapists