What Is It?
Diastasis Recti (DR): a separation of the abdominal muscles
Functional Core Weakness (FCW): The inability of the muscles of the core to effectively function and support the body for everyday physical demands without pain or dysfunction
Although Diastasis Recti is often considered only an issue with prenatal and postpartum women, it is commonly seen in men with ongoing Functional Core Weakness and muscle imbalance.
What Does It Feel Like?
Here’s how men describe what it feels like to live with Functional Core Weakness and Diastasis Recti:
(*not all men have all of these symptoms)
- A trench or football shaped bulge down the midline of your tummy when you do crunch like movements or cough
- Bulging tummy that gets worse with traditional abdominal exercises
- Back pain (lower, mid or even upper back)
- Overall weakness in your core – affecting your posture, your ability to lift or exercise
- Lower back or SI joint instability – where your back randomly “goes out”
- Sluggish intestinal function, constipation, the need to bear down to go
- Flared rib cage or barrel chest
What Is Causing This?
The core consists of three layers of muscle. The internal-most is your transverse abdominis which functions like a natural corset – designed to elongate the torso and balance the entire body. Typically, men with Diastasis Recti have over-developed external core muscles (the recti and obliques) and a neglected internal abdominal muscle (transverse abdominis). Over time, this lack of strength or stability forces your body to recruit other muscles to function. We call this a compensation pattern.
(Learn more about the function of the transverse muscle).
Typical compensation patterns in men are holding your breath, tensing when straining, bracing the muscles and recruiting upper and lower body muscles to stabilize the core. All of these strategies actually push out on the abdominal wall (even slightly) instead of drawing in and elongating the core. Over time, this habitual outward pressure makes the connective tissue of your abdominal wall (the linea alba) stretch, causing that midline separation known as Diastasis Recti.
(Did you know men living with Functional Core Weakness and/or Diastasis Recti are more susceptible to developing hernias?)
Check Yourself for Diastasis Recti
How Do You Fix It?
Both Functional Core Weakness and Diastasis Recti are treated the same way. Unlike what most people are told, diastasis recti does not require surgery and can be corrected with functional core rehabilitation. Our Functional Core Rehabilitation will strengthen the core, minimize movements making it worse, reconnect you to your body, close the separation, flatten your belly, relieve back pain and other symptoms, as well as retrain your body mechanics, posture, and alignment for long-term success.
The Tummy Team will help you regain neuromuscular control of your abdominal muscles and relearn how to use them correctly in all aspects of your life. We aim for functional use of muscles. Our goal is not to get you stronger for exercises, but stronger for living life. (Learn more about The Tummy Team approach)
Not sure which rehab program is best? Take this 1-minute questionnaire.