The Unexpected Truth about Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti is a medical condition where the abdominal wall separates due to stretching of the connective tissue of the linea alba. This is an incredibly common (but not normal) condition that is a symptom of a much bigger issue, functional core weakness. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about diastasis, the cause, the treatment, and the prognosis. The Tummy Team specializes in the treatment of diastasis recti and functional core weakness and we spend a lot of time educating clients in ‘the truth about diastasis recti’. You do not need to be afraid or overwhelmed by the contradictory information out there. We have done the work for you and created a ton of resources to help you through the healing process. In honor of Diastasis Recti Awareness month, we have listed 12 things you may not know about diastasis recti. We hope this helps you get to the truth and find the hope and healing that is available.

Truth 1: Diastasis recti is common but preventable during pregnancy.

The abdominal wall was designed to stretch some during pregnancy to accommodate the growing uterus, it is not meant to excessively stretch, bulge or separate. Prenatal Core Training can effectively minimize this excessive stretching and keep diastasis recti from being an issue in pregnancy, birth or birth recovery.

Truth 2: Diastasis recti can be caused by crunches or sit-ups.

While most people agree that crunches and sit-ups should be avoided when trying to heal a diastasis, often people do not realize that these exercises can create consistent forward, forceful pressure against the abdominal connective tissue causing muscle imbalance between the internal and external abdominal muscles. Chronic crunch pressure and muscle imbalance are the main cause of diastasis recti regardless of if you have had a baby or not. Understand how fitness can impact diastasis here.

Truth 3: Poor posture can keep your diastasis from fully healing.

Collapsed postures place the transverse abdominis in a position that makes it very ineffective to activate.  The consistent elongated activation of the transverse abdominis is a key component in how to rehabilitate the core and heal diastasis recti. Working on optimal daily sitting, standing, working and parenting postures is essential to the comprehensive approach to diastasis rehab. We have plenty of free resources demonstrating some great examples of how to maintain optimal postures and alignments.

Truth 4: It’s never too late to effectively heal diastasis recti

As with all muscular conditions, prevention and early intervention are ideal but diastasis recti can be treated successfully years after it developed.  We have effectively helped clients who have had significant diastasis for over 20 years. The body has an incredible capacity to heal with given the right conditions.

Truth 5: Diastasis recti is not typically fixed by a fitness routine alone. Diastasis recti needs rehabilitation.

Diastasis is a muscle imbalance issue that requires neuromuscular rehabilitation and coordination retraining.  Fitness is most effective when we have connected functional core strength.  The Tummy Team starts with a comprehensive rehab approach than organically progresses into Tummy Safe Fitness.  Core Foundations is our most popular course that is designed to help heal and strengthen your core.

Truth 6: Surgery is not the best treatment for diastasis recti.

Diastasis recti is directly related to functional core weakness. Functional core rehab can rebuild the core and effectively close the diastasis without the trauma of surgery.

Truth 7: Diastasis recti is not related to weight gain or body size.

Diastasis recti can occur in significantly underweight and significantly overweight as well as healthy weight clients. It is a muscle-weakness, muscle-imbalance issue, not a weight issue.  You do not need to and should not weight until you “have lost the weight” to treat your diastasis.  Often the foundational strength you are missing is the key ingredient to the other healthy choices you are making.

Truth 8: It’s best not to wait until after you are done having kids to treat your diastasis recti.

Prevention and early intervention of diastasis recti and functional core weakness are so important. Doing functional core rehab during pregnancy and between pregnancies can help your diastasis as well as give you the core and pelvic floor strength and connection needed for smooth births and easier birth recoveries. If you have a diastasis, do not wait, get treatment now! You won’t regret it.

Truth 9: Planks do not help a diastasis heal.

Diastasis recti is a stretching of the connective tissue that leaves the organs unsupported and vulnerable. It is important to avoid gravity-dependent positions like planks where the pressure of the organs will press into the weakened connective tissue. Protecting the core from further damage while rebuilding the abdominal wall is an important balance. The Tummy Team primarily works with clients in upright functional postures that they can integrate into their daily life effectively instead of a set of isolated exercises. You can learn more about our approach here.

Truth 10: Diastasis recti is rarely diagnosed by your doctor (but you can still have it).

Until recently, physical therapy was often not effective for diastasis treatment and surgery was not a good option either. As a result, doctors did not look for or identify diastasis as a reason that you may be suffering from low back pain, weak abdominal muscles, pelvic instability and much more.  The good news is that you can actually check yourself for diastasis recti and functional core weakness. Check out this video to see if you have a diastasis:

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI66fwp-Ees[/embedyt]

Truth 11: Diastasis recti can contribute to poor fetal alignment, slow labor progression, and make pushing difficult in pregnancy.

The muscle of the core plays an important role in supporting the uterus during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Diastasis recti is always connected to functional core weakness. So when your core and/or pelvic floor is weak, it is not supporting the uterus the way it should. This is another reason why addressing diastasis during pregnancy is so important.  Prenatal Core Training can dramatically change the way your body handles pregnancy, birth and birth recovery.

Truth 12: Men also suffer from diastasis recti (it is not just a pregnancy issue)

Men can have diastasis recti and yes, it is treatable. Diastasis is caused by chronic forward forceful pressure against the abdominal wall and reinforced by muscle imbalances, poor posture, and breath-holding, bracing and bearing down. This can happen to anyone. Men are overlooked in the world of diastasis recti but they can do very well with functional core rehab and often heal faster and easier than the women we work with. Check out more about DR and men here. 

There is so much to learn about Diastasis Recti. The Tummy Team is dedicated to helping you get the information and resources you need to prevent, treat and heal your diastasis.

We have a ton of free resources and multiple education pages dedicated to diastasis recti. But in the end, we are physical therapists and functional core rehab specialists to helping you get the care you need is our priority. If you are local in the Camas WA area come see us at our clinic. If you are not local check out one of our 7 comprehensive online core rehab programs. If you are a rehab, birth or fitness professional and want to get more professional training in our approach check out our professional training site. We are here to help!

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