Do you have several questions about diastasis recti? You can end your search now. The Tummy Team has compiled the most frequently searched questions on Google about diastasis recti to provide you one space that can give you all the answers you need. Take a look at the questions below as well as our answers…
About diastasis recti
Diastasis Recti is a midline separation of the right and left sides of the abdominal wall. It can happen to men and women, regardless of age, weight or fitness level. It is common in pregnancy and postpartum due to the added elasticity of the connective tissue. With Diastasis Recti, the connective tissue that runs down the center of the abdominals (the linea alba) becomes thin and your organs push forward, contributing to a bulging tummy and increasing the risk of a hernia. Because the abdominal muscles help support the back and organs, a separation will cause your support system to be weakened leading to instability and pain.
Yes! Diastasis recti can be corrected with Functional Core Rehabilitation. This is the specialty of The Tummy Team. The treatment of diastasis recti includes a reconnecting to and retraining your internal core muscles in upright postures and optimizing your posture and alignment so your core engages and elongates consistently during all-day functional movements. In addition, rehab will improve the sensory connection of the muscles, the blood flow to the connective tissue, and minimize movements that create intra-abdominal pressure on your tummy. The Functional Core Rehab process includes some initial retraining exercises and stretches but is much more about retraining movement patterns and the functional use of your core muscles.
Diastasis recti presents differently in different clients. Sometimes you feel like you have a gaping hole in your tummy, or a bulging, tenting, or “pouchy” tummy or you could have trench down the midline of your belly that sometimes bulges up when you cough or do a sit-up motion. Other times you cannot tell by looking at the tummy but you have consistent symptoms of Functional Core Weakness like a weak, deflated abdominal wall, chronic collapsed posture, low back pain and instability, weak pelvic floor symptoms, and/or a sluggish digestive tract. The Tummy Team offers a self-check video that can walk you through checking yourself for a diastasis. (view it here).
Diastasis Recti can negatively affect much of the quality of your life and if untreated can contribute to chronic low back pain, pelvic instability, sciatica, digestive issues, birth complications, and serious pelvic floor dysfunction. In addition, the muscle imbalance and movement strategies that cause diastasis recti can put you at risk for developing an abdominal hernia that can be painful and in some cases life-threatening. Diastasis Recti (and all the related symptoms and side effects) is effectively treated with Functional Core Rehab. This is not a cosmetic issue, it is an important medical condition that needs to be treated.
Diastasis Recti is a midline separation of the right and left sides of the abdominal wall. It can happen to men and women, regardless of age, weight, or fitness level. It is caused by the most common compensation pattern for Functional Core Weakness: consistent forward and forceful pressure against the abdominal wall. This pressure can be from chronic poor postures, traditional abdominal exercises like crunches, sit-ups or planks, chronic constipation, and habitual bracing or bearing down. Diastasis Recti occurs commonly in prenatal and postpartum women due to the additional pressure of the growing uterus, extra elasticity in the connective tissue of the abdominal wall due to pregnancy hormones, and additional forward pressure from constipation and breath-holding and bearing down during delivery.
Belly bands or abdominal binding are similar to abdominal rehab splinting which is an important component to diastasis recti treatment. An abdominal rehab splint is a medical-grade, non-constricting support that reinforces the functional use of the inner core muscle known as the transverse abdominis. When used properly, it helps:
- promote neurological reconnection to the atrophied muscle
- protect and support the spine and abdominal organs
- give temporary support to the core while it is rehabilitated
- bring together and stabilize the two sides of the abdominals to help heal diastasis recti
It is important to combine abdominal rehab splinting with a comprehensive rehab approach or the use of a splint can actually lead to disconnect and slow the healing process. The Tummy Team sells rehab splints and recommends them with all of our online rehab programs.
No, diastasis recti is a stretching (sometimes severe) of the connective tissue that runs down the midline of the abdominal wall. A hernia is when that connective tissue tears. A severe and untreated diastasis can put you at risk for developing a hernia and some people have both a diastasis and a hernia. However, the rehab process is very similar and even hernias that need surgical repair benefit from Functional Core Rehab before and after surgery.
In most cases, diastasis recti can absolutely be prevented. Diastasis Recti is caused by repetitive forward forceful pressure on the abominable wall that is more prevalent when there is a muscle imbalance within the core muscles. When you identify and minimize the forward forceful pressure movements and strengthen the internal core muscles so they are not significantly weaker than the external muscles then diastasis recti can be prevented.
Diastasis recti is typically measured by the number of finger widths you can fit between the right and left side of the abdominal all on a diastasis check. Anything more than 1 finger is considered a diastasis. Diastasis that are 2-3 finger-widths are considered significant and separations of 3 fingers or more are considered severe.
Diastasis Recti is caused by chronic forward forceful pressure on the abdominal wall that causes the connective tissue to stretch and the tummy to bulge or tent. This occurs most often when men have weak internal core muscles, live in collapsed postures and hold their breath and brace or bulge their tummy when lifting, bending, moving, and straining. Addressing the muscle imbalance and retraining core strength and functional movement patterns can reduce the diastasis. The Tummy Team has an online rehab course specifically for men with diastasis recti.
Yes. Diastasis recti is a symptom of functional core weakness. When the core muscles are inactive, posture collapses and the organs of the abdomen are not supported well. The intestinal tract functions best with good blood flow and proper positioning in the abdominal cavity. Diastasis recti and functional core weakness contribute to constipation, difficult bowel movements, and at times symptoms of irritable bowel.
Solutions to Diastasis Recti
Often Diastasis Recti developed over months or years of muscle imbalance and poor movement strategies, but it typically does not take as long to heal. Depending on the severity of your separation, it could take 6 weeks to several months to completely heal. However, most Tummy Team Clients feel a difference in the muscle tone and connection in the first week of rehab. We focus not just on immediate results but on lasting results. Full diastasis recti rehab includes reconnection to the sensory and physical aspects of the corset during functional activities and time to allow for revascularization of the connective tissue to stabilize the abdominal wall.
Diastasis Recti can be effectively treated at home. The Tummy Team provides several comprehensive online Functional Core Rehab and Prenatal Core Training programs that walk clients week by week, step by step through the rehab process. It is important to look beyond a series of exercises but to treat the big picture. Diastasis Recti results due to disuse or misuse of your postural core muscles so retraining your posture in your everyday activities is key. Then spending time on rebuilding your upright core muscles and integrating that strength into your real-life movement patterns is the next step. This type of rehab is actually best done at home. Check out how our online rehab programs work here.
Yes! It is never too late to treat Diastasis Recti! The cause of diastasis recti is muscle imbalance combined with collapsed postures and bulging the tummy on effort. We can treat the cause of diastasis no matter how long the diastasis has been present. The body has an incredible capacity to heal when given the right tools and when it is not compensating for weakness. The Tummy Team has worked successfully with diastasis recti clients who have been struggling for decades and some clients who are well into their 70’s and 80’s.
Diastasis Recti treatment is more than a series of exercises. It requires retraining functional postural use of your internal corset muscle: the transverse abdominis. With The Tummy Team, the initial rehab exercises include active, elongated sitting, belly breathing with focus on exhaling, elongating, and engaging the core and abdominal massage to increase blood flow and sensory connection to the abdominal muscles. The bigger question here is what exercises DO NOT fix diastasis recti as many people are unintentionally making diastasis recti worse doing the wrong exercises. We instruct you to avoid crunches, sit-ups, planks (when your tummy hangs down and tents), and other high-intensity exercises that require bulging, breath-holding, or tenting your tummy. Simply avoiding exercises that create additional forward forceful pressure on the connective tissue of the abdominal wall will help the healing dramatically. You can learn more about true core strength here.
Yes! Surgery is not the best option. Diastasis Recti (even severe cases) can be effectively treated with Functional Core Rehabilitation. It is best to find a specialist like The Tummy Team that has the experience and focused training in this work because not all Physical Therapists are trained in the treatment of diastasis recti. Treatment includes retraining the internal core muscles that are responsible for your upright posture and stabilization combined with removing movement and exercise patterns that bulge or tent your tummy. The Tummy Team provides this type of treatment online to help diastasis recti sufferers get specialized treatment anywhere in the world.
No. Body weight has little to do with healing a diastasis. The internal abdominal muscles can be retrained and repaired regardless of your shape and size. Often repairing your diastasis with functional core rehab gives you more energy and less pain which can help you become more active and kick start some other healthy habits if you are carrying extra weight. Often clients are told or feel like they need to lose weight before they address the pain or weakness of their diastasis but we encourage clients to start rehab as soon as they know they have a diastasis.
A bulge that runs down the midline of the abdomen that tents up or pushes out when doing a crunch like activity, coughing or straining is most likely a diastasis recti. Poor movement patterns combined with muscle weakness forces the belly to bulge and stretch the underlying connective tissue causing a separation of the abominable wall. The separation in the muscles allows what is inside of the abdomen, typically intestines and belly fat, to push through and create a bulge.
Diastasis recti can be effectively corrected in as little as 6 weeks but also could take longer than 6 months. Healing time for diastasis depends on…
- The severity of the separation
- The time the client has suffered from diastasis recti
- If the client is currently pregnant or nursing (hormones affect healing time)
- Additional trauma related to the diastasis
- The health of the client (nutrition, sleep, immune system, and hydration all can affect healing time)
- How consistent the client is with the treatment plan
Diastasis recti can be effectively treated regardless of the severity and additional factors when the client receives the right treatment and is consistent.
Diastasis Recti & Pregnancy
Diastasis Recti is common during pregnancy due to the forward forceful pressure put on the connective tissue of the abdominal wall combined with the extra elasticity of the connective tissue due to Relaxin and other pregnancy hormones. Diastasis contributes to poor fetal alignment, increased low back pain, increased constipation, increased pelvic instability, and pubic bone pain and difficulty during labor and pushing. In addition, a significant diastasis combined with pregnancy increases the risk of developing a hernia. The good news is that diastasis can be treated during pregnancy to minimize all of these negative impacts. The Tummy Team offers 3 different online Prenatal Core Training courses to meet the needs of all pregnant women.
Yes, Diastasis Recti can be noticeable during pregnancy. Sometimes it presents like bulging or tenting of the tummy when getting out of bed, other times it presents with a torpedo-shaped belly bump, and other times you can only identify it with a diastasis recti test. It is helpful to check yourself for a diastasis and get prenatal core training to help minimize the effects of diastasis and strengthen your core for pregnancy, birth, and birth recovery. The Tummy Team has a “how to check yourself for a diastasis while you are pregnant” video to help you.
When alignment and functional core strength is effectively addressed early, a diastasis can be prevented during pregnancy. If a diastasis is discovered during pregnancy, it can be minimized and prevented from getting more severe as well. A comprehensive approach that works on optimal alignment, internal functional core strength and addresses the connection and coordination of the core and pelvic floor is the most effective prenatal treatment. It is important not to wait until after the birth to get care from a specialist for your diastasis. Here is how to start.
Yes! Prenatal core training or Core Preparation for Cesarean Birth are incredibly effective at treating diastasis recti and the connected symptoms of functional core weakness DURING pregnancy. The Tummy Team has a step by step approach to intentionally address these issues and prepare your core for the demands of pregnancy, labor, delivery, and birth recovery.
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If you are wondering how you can heal your diastasis, you’ve come to the right place. The Tummy Team specializes in healing diastasis recti and other symptoms of pelvic floor weakness as well as prenatal training. We highly encourage you to check out Core Foundations, Core Foundations for Men, and the other programs that we offer at https://online.thetummyteam.com/online-programs. Not sure what course may be best for you? Take our online program questionnaire and do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions!