The truth about diastasis recti:

There are many techniques available to help with this issue: Tupler, Dia method, and MuTu that promise they will fix and close the gap in your rectus abdominis muscles, a condition known as diastasis recti. Multiple studies reveal that specific exercises can help with diastasis, but they probably won’t close the gap entirely. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of research on it, and the studies that have been done, don’t have a 100% success rate. The US is pretty late in the game when it comes to diastasis care. Countries like: Great Britain or Australia have worked with women for years, and have done much more extensive research that addresses this condition. There is no a quick fix to this condition, so, beware of methods that promise one.

What is diastasis recti?

At stretch  of least 2.5cm of linea alba in width and depth.

Why do muscles separate?

A growing uterus and the baby put pressure on the linea alba, and that in turn leads to weakening of the tissue that begins to stretch. The stretched out linea alba creates a gap between the two sides of the rectus muscles.

Why does it happen to some women and not to others?

Large babies, and individual anatomical differences are the possible causes, but there is not enough research on the subject to state that these are the only causes. Bad posture and weak core muscles are also on the list of possible causes of diastasis.

Can I prevent this separation?

Again, there is not enough research to confirm that, however, some studies suggest that if you workout during pregnancy, it may help – yet they do not list specific exercises to help you avoid the separation. This was not the case for me. I worked out a lot, had strong core, yet ended up with massive diastasis recti. It’s very individual.

What are the numbers according to research?

The prevalence of DR was:

  • 1% at gestation week 21
  • 0% 6 weeks post partum
  • 5% 6 months post partum
  • 6% 12 months post partum

Different research show slightly different numbers, but they are close.

After a year postpartum, 32.6% of women, still suffer from diastasis recti.  However, the gap naturally closed for the majority participants within a year. Studies suggest that your body heals on its own, up to a year post delivery. If you want to help to achieve results faster, you can do this with breathing exercises and TvA activation, immediately following delivery and during the postpartum period. It will also make you feel better and you will recover sooner. Remember, there is no one method that will fix diastasis. It is usually a combination of breathing and strength training that involves a full body approach. Breathing exercises activating transverse abdominis, will always help to some degree. And if your diastasis was not severe, you might be able to regain some strength in your linea alba, if not, you can make it functional with proper strength training.

What the methods available have in common are:

They use TvA activation and breathing exercises. That’s the secret to “closing” or “healing” the gap. When I say that there is no “one method” that will heal diastasis recti what do I mean?  Well, there are certain exercises that will improve the activation of deep core muscles (primarily transverse abdominis muscle) and those will help get rid off the “mommy pouch” look. Until you eat a big meal J. However, muscles will not “grow” back together, because the linea alba loses its laxity. Still, diastasis is considered “healed” if you know how to activate your transverse abdominis to keep your core engaged, and keep your posture in proper alignment.

I have a functional diastasis recti. My gap is 2.5-3 fingers wide, but I do not suffer from lower back pain, bad posture, or a weak pelvic floor. I also have no “mommy pouch” because my deep core muscles are strong, and I maintain regular, “full body” workouts.

Diastasis recti abdominis during pregnancy and 12 months after childbirth: prevalence, risk factors and report of lumbo-pelvic pain 2016Jorun Bakken Sperstad1, Merete Kolberg Tennfjord1,2, Gunvor Hilde2, Marie Ellström-Engh2,3, Kari Bø1

2. Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy

Print version ISSN 1413-3555On-line version ISSN 1809-9246

Rev. bras. Fisioter. vol.13 no.4 São Carlos July/Aug. 2009  Epub Aug 21, 2009

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1413-35552009005000037

     3. Prevalence of diastasis of the rectus abdominis muscles immediately postpartum: comparison between primiparae and multiparae Review published: 2014.

4. Physiotherapy. 2014 Mar;100(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.physio.2013.08.005. Epub 2013 Oct

Effects of exercise on diastasis of the rectus abdominis muscle in the antenatal and postnatal periods: a systematic review.

Benjamin DR1van de Water AT2Peiris CL3.

 

Surg Endosc. 2017 Jun 8. doi: 10.1007/s00464-017-5607-9. [Epub ahead of print]

The general surgeon’s perspective of rectus diastasis. A systematic review of treatment options.

Mommers EHH1Ponten JEH2Al Omar AK3de Vries Reilingh TS4Bouvy ND3Nienhuijs SW2.

 

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About the Author : Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt NASM Personal Trainer and mom of 2 living in NYC. On a mission to find healthy balance through exercise in her life and help other women to do the same, because “the greatest gift you can give your family and the world, is a healthy You”.

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