YES!! Diastasis recti is treatable!
Initial awareness of diastasis recti leaves most of us feeling a bit overwhelmed and hopeless. But we are here to tell you that there is HOPE for your diastasis! Diastasis recti is very treatable. The Tummy Team has specialized in the nonsurgical treatment of diastasis recti since 2009.
There is limited information on diastasis recti and what is available is confusing, conflicting and discouraging. BUT the truth is, The Tummy Team has helped thousands of people heal their diastasis no matter how severe or how long they have struggled with it. Let us help you better understand how diastasis can be treated by having our specialists answer your most frequently asked questions about the treatment of diastasis recti.
Q: Can you fix diastasis recti without surgery?
A: Absolutely! Rarely is surgery the best solution for diastasis treatment. Diastasis Recti is a stretching of the connective tissue down the center of the abdominal wall that is caused by chronic forward forceful pressure and internal core muscle weakness. Surgery can attempt to sew the muscles together or place a patch over the weakened area but neither of these options improves the core weakness issue or the pressure that caused the separation in the first place.
Surgery often instead causes another trauma to the area. While you might be able to “patch” the gap temporarily, often this surgery fails and rarely will it assist with the functional core weakness symptoms that are associated with DR such as low back pain, protruding tummy, pelvic floor weakness, pelvic instability, and intestinal issues. However, The Tummy Team specializes in functional core rehab which will address all of these issues and does so very effectively. In the rare instances where surgery is encouraged we always recommend functional core rehab first to strengthen the abdominals and retrain the core prior to any surgical procedure with core prehab.
Q: My doctor said rehab won’t help my diastasis, why do you say it will?
A: Your doctor simply has outdated information. Diastasis recti treatment has come a long way in the last few years. In the past, traditional physical therapy and surgery have not been effective treatment options. We know better now! Functional Core Rehab has revolutionized how we look at the core and how we effectively prevent and treat diastasis recti. The Tummy Team now does professional training for rehab, medical, birth and fitness professionals to help change the current standard of care for diastasis recti and get up-to-date information to doctors worldwide. There is absolutely hope even if your doctor is unaware of it. This condition may not be your doctor’s specialty but it is ours.
Q: Is it too late to get treatment after having DR for years?
A: It is never too late to do functional core rehabilitation and to treat diastasis recti. Don’t allow the severity of your diastasis or how long you have suffered from this condition to keep you from getting rehab. No matter how long it has been, the core muscles can be retrained and the separation can close and rebuild integrity with the right type of rehab. We have worked with clients who have been living with their DR for over 30 years and still were able to heal.
Q: Will DR heal itself, partially?
A: In some cases, yes! The truth is that the body has an incredible capacity for healing when it is not fighting for survival and when we are not powering through life. A significant part of The Tummy Team approach is education and simply helping clients become aware of how our body was designed to function. The core is designed primarily for all-day postural and respiratory function. So when clients know how to help the core work in optimal alignments and proper connection through the breath, then the muscles heal. Understanding what is helping and what is limiting healing is key to the complete healing process. With this understanding, yes a diastasis can begin to heal spontaneously.
Q: How long will it take to fix my diastasis?
A: Just like in all rehab, there are many factors that affect the healing process. Most Tummy Team clients with a 3-4 finger diastasis or less can close their diastasis and initiate the functional core strength rebuilding in less than 3 months of intentional functional core rehab. If the DR is smaller often it takes less time, and if it is wider and deeper, then it will take more time.
Our approach is to not simply close the DR but to retrain the client to understand the movement patterns and lifestyle strategies that created the diastasis recti in the first place and then to systematically reconnect to the internal core muscles in a very meaningful and intentional way. In the end, it will take less time than you think and it will be so worth it.
Q: Can you have mild diastasis recti (say, 3-finger) and what appears to be a strong core when doing DR exercises but still have severe back pain?
A: A strong core is little to do with diastasis recti exercises and everything to do with using the exercise to connect to the right muscle and then to train you to use your core in all-day function. A 3-finger diastasis is actually pretty significant and can absolutely contribute to severe back pain. The core is not designed for isolated exercises but for postural support and reinforcing the stability of the spine during lifting and straining. The Tummy Team trains first in awareness and connection so we minimize the postures and movements that are sabotaging healing and then we work on rebuilding the core and integrating that strength into all of your daily activities.
We believe pain is always your body’s way of communicating something is wrong and begging you to fix it. If you are living with severe pain and have a diastasis then you do not have a functionally strong core. We do not believe in living in pain but instead giving you the tools to address what your body is asking of you.
Q: What are the other factors that affect the healing of a DR?
A: There are many additional factors that affect the healing process of diastasis recti:
- Hormones – it can take longer to heal your diastasis while pregnant and nursing as the relaxin, estrogen, and progesterone can increase elasticity in connective tissue. It often takes about 3 months after fully weaning the baby for your hormones to balance out. This does not mean you will not heal but it might make it slower. Learn more about how hormones can affect DR here.
- Stress/lack of sleep – Sleep is a form of nutrition that allows our body to repair. Increased stress and interrupted sleep impact our cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that when chronically high in our body can lead to additional connective tissue damage and can affect diastasis recti healing.
- Hydration/nutrition – a nutrient-dense diet is so important to any healing. Hydration helps with blood flow, toxin release and overall health as well. There are common deficiencies in the clients we see including magnesium which is essential for muscles to relax so muscle balance can occur. Keeping in mind that this is an internal healing process that requires your body to have the nutrients it needs to be successful is key to the rehab process.
- Chronic parenting postures – Posture is one of the most important components to healing diastasis recti. We tend to work with a lot of parents who live in collapsed and inactive parenting postures that are sabotaging the way your body needs to align to heal. Your body was designed to be most efficient as a long lean and lifted “string bean” but is living day to day life as a collapsed and rounded “kidney bean” so your core is robbed of the healthy alignments needed to allow healing. We offer a ton of resources to help you improve common parenting postures here.
These are just a handful of other issues that can impact the healing of your diastasis. The Tummy Team works holistically and considers the big picture. Diastasis Recti treatment is our specialty so we work with all the contributing factors to help you heal.
Q: Is Physical Therapy typically considered medically necessary and billable to most insurance companies?
A: Yes. There are specific diagnosis codes for diastasis recti and the related medical symptoms and the treatment can be quick an effective when you see a specialist. Diastasis recti is rarely a “stand-alone” diagnosis as it commonly coexists with other functional impacts like low back pain, SI instability, pubic bone pain, stress incontinence, constipation and more. The issue is not whether the condition requires rehab but finding the right rehab professionals trained in how to treat this condition. Doctors do not refer to PT when they have not seen good results. The Tummy Team is on a mission to change this through our online client programs and our professional training programs. We want everyone to have a specialist near them so this condition can be easily treated.
As you can see, there is absolutely hope to heal your diastasis recti. This can be a daunting process but we are here to help you through it. You do not need to live in pain, you do not need to continue to feel broken and you do not need to have invasive surgery. We have the answer and you can absolutely do this!
Remember, your body has an incredible capacity to heal. Even though diastasis is common, it is not normal and if left untreated, it will cause pain and dysfunction. Treating diastasis recti and functional core weakness is one of the specialties at The Tummy Team. Check out our clinic or online programs for ways we can help you no matter where you live.